March 26, 2021 – 11:48 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net – The international community should undertake measures to stop and condemn the crimes, including the cultural genocide being committed by Azerbaijan since September 27, 2020 to date, Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan said on Thursday, March 25.
Naghdalyan’s comments came after the BBC released a video, documenting the demolition of the Zoravor Surb Astvatsatsin Church near the town of Mekhakavan (Jebrail), which took place after the region fell under the Azerbaijani control. The same church had already been desecrated during the recent Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
“We strongly condemn this crime committed by Azerbaijan on the grounds of religious hatred. At the same time, the attempts of the Azerbaijani leadership to justify this barbarism are even more concerning, as it shows that this manifestation of vandalism was intentional in nature and is reminiscent of the systematic destruction of Nakhichevan’s historical and cultural heritage,” Naghdalyan said.
“This case of destruction of the place of worship after the recent war is not an isolated episode. The destruction of the more than 200 years old “Kanach Zham” church in the city of Shushi of the Artsakh Republic proves that the cultural vandalism carried out by Azerbaijan is based on only one criterion – hatred towards the Christian Armenian people./;
Naghdalyan said that despite the efforts to present itself to the world as a “center of tolerance and multiculturalism”, Azerbaijan has so far consolidated its position as a pioneer in the destruction of Christian heritage.
During the recent military hostilities, Azerbaijani forces launched two targeted attacks on the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi. After the city came under Azerbaijan’s control, the domes of another Armenian church commonly known as the Green Chapel were destroyed too. Azerbaijan earlier “restored” a church by replacing its Armenian inscription with glass art. Furthermore, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev visited the region of Hadrut in territories occupied by Azerbaijan and declared his intention to “renovate” a 12th century Armenian church, which he claimed to be “an Albanian church”. Aliyev went so far as to accuse Armenians of leaving “fake inscriptions” in the Armenian language.
Concerns about the preservation of cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh are made all the more urgent by the Azerbaijani government’s history of systemically destroying indigenous Armenian heritage—acts of both warfare and historical revisionism. The Azerbaijani government has secretly destroyed a striking number of cultural and religious artifacts in the late 20th century. Within Nakhichevan alone, a historically Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces destroyed at least 89 medieval churches, 5,840 khachkars (Armenian cross stones) and 22,000 historical tombstones between 1997 and 2006.