TODAY.AZ / Politics

Int'l community rapped for double standards on Armenia's ongoing cultural genocide against Azerbaijan

18 June 2022 [17:14] - TODAY.AZ

By Vugar Khalilov

At every opportunity, Yerevan accuses Baku of destroying the "Armenian cultural heritage" in Azerbaijan's liberated lands, while disregarding its own decades-long cultural terror against its neighbor, Azernews reports.

On June 7, during a meeting with UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone in Paris, Armenian Education and Culture Minister Vahram Dumanyan slandered Azerbaijan, blaming it for cultural vandalism against Armenian cultural and historical monuments, Azernews reports.

In turn, Ottone stated that work is underway to send an expert mission to Karabakh and the surrounding territories to investigate the situation at the venue.

Azerbaijan has always welcomed the UNESCO technical delegation, which is planning to visit the region. Azerbaijan and UNESCO agreed on all preparations for it bilaterally.

Despite Azerbaijan's repeated pleas and letters to UNESCO, the organization's mission was unable to visit the region due to Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands as UNESCO said in its 2005 report.

Concerning UNESCO's mission to Armenia, the Foreign Ministry earlier stated that Azerbaijan has repeatedly warned UNESCO and the international community of the destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia.

During a virtual conference on February 4, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, French President Emanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan achieved an agreement on UNESCO missions to be sent to Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Azerbaijani NGOs, on the other hand, have provided UNESCO with substantial information on the damage, as well as pictures and other documentation about the purposeful policy implemented by Armenia to destroy the centuries-old cultural legacy of Azerbaijanis in Armenia.

Azerbaijani NGO leaders have asked UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay to send an expert group to Armenia to assess the current state of Azerbaijan's centuries-old cultural and historical heritage but to no avail.

Armenia committed ethnic-cultural genocide as well as ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis. There were no Azerbaijanis left in Armenia as a result of the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from their ancestral regions in the early 20th century. Over 250,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from their own homes and became refugees as a result of the final deportation in 1988 alone.

By pursuing a policy of both ethnic and cultural genocide, Armenia has purposefully erased all traces of Azerbaijanis, the historical and ancient residents of these territories, plundered, destroyed, embezzled, and distorted the Azerbaijani people's cultural legacy. At the same time, ancient place names in these areas were changed to Armenian ones.

“We provided a number of proofs in our earlier appeals to UNESCO. For example, along with other proofs, we have emphasized that the Blue Mosque, the Gala Mosque, the Shah Abbas Mosque, the Tapabashi Mosque, the Zal Khan Mosque, the Sartib Khan Mosque, the Haji Novruzali Bay Mosque, the Damirbulagh Mosque, the Haji Jafar Bay Mosque, the Rajab Pasha Mosque, the Mohammad Sartib Khan Mosque, the Haji Inam Mosque and more than 300 other mosques located in Armenia were deliberately destroyed, misappropriated or used for other purposes in the early 20th century. Only the Damirbulagh Mosque functioned as intended until 1988, but it has now been completely demolished and replaced by a high-rise building,” the statement by Azerbaijani NGOs reads.

Over 500 Azerbaijani cemeteries in Armenia, such as Aghadada, Ashaghi Shorja, Gullubulagh, and Saral have been destroyed. The tomb of great Azerbaijani poet Ashig Alasgar, whose tombstone was erected in his native village in the ancient Goycha district, was also destroyed.

Armenians have destroyed virtually all religious and historical monuments in the previously occupied territories of Azerbaijan during the 30-year occupation. Some 65 out of 67 mosques were destroyed, Aghdam's Juma mosque was partially preserved due to its use by the Armenian armed forces for military purposes, and the Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shusha was presented as a "Persian" mosque after the so-called reconstruction.

UNESCO should include evidence of Armenian vandalism against Azerbaijani culture in its reports. Today, Azerbaijan is experiencing double standards and the silence of international organizations about the realities of Armenian damage to Azerbaijani territories during the 30-year occupation.

Armenia perpetrated ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Azerbaijani people. In addition, during the Armenian occupation, the Azerbaijani cultural legacy, which is part of the global cultural heritage, was exposed to genocide and damage. In occupied territories, historical sites were destroyed and mosques were desecrated.

Despite numerous applications to UNESCO, which supports the preservation of world heritage and culture, Azerbaijan has gotten no answers. Azerbaijan has applied to UNESCO on the fact that a mission was dispatched to its former occupied lands to investigate the facts of Armenian vandalism against its cultural heritage; nevertheless, this agency has not taken any action.

According to Azerbaijani MP Afat Hasanova, UNESCO continues to use double standards, failing to highlight Armenian vandalism in its reports. This injustice must be corrected, and UNESCO must include data about Armenian damage to Azerbaijani culture in its reports.


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