Prevent the Cultural Genocide in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

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Since the Armenians’ religious and cultural heritage is the strongest expression of their ancestral roots, it has become a prime target for their oppressors.

We urge you to take action and help us preserve our national identity in the face of cultural erasure and appropriation.

Numerous cultural and historical monuments and places of worship factually Armenian in their origin shall be soon transferred to the Republic of Azerbaijan within the scope of the trilateral agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia to end the military conflict over the region of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), signed on November 10, 2020.

Not to fall into the details of the conflict, but it has been fact-checked and recorded by numerous international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, that Azerbaijan has committed numerous war crimes against the ethnic Armenian population of Artsakh during the said conflict: Azeri Armed Forces have shelled Stepanakert, Shushi, Hadrut, Martakert, Martuni, Askeran, Berdzor, and other civilian settlements in Artsakh with banned cluster munition, incendiary chemical weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile weaponry. Not explicitly mentioning the loss of civilian lives, hundreds of injured and almost 150,000 displaced ethnic Armenians that this offensive has seen, the targets of heavy shelling have been primarily civilian and cultural objects, most notably in this case the Holy Savior Cathedral in Shushi (Ghazanchetsots Cathedral), which has suffered two surgical aerial strikes from Turkish/Azerbaijani Armed forces.

More information on the shelling of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral can be found here.

Furthermore, several videos depicting the barbaric actions of the Azerbaijani military have been posted online: sacrilege of Armenian religious monuments, vandalism, arson, and robberies thereof.

The international organizations have neglected the situation so far, and a full-scale ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide of ethnic Armenians is highly likely if it has not already begun.

While many Armenians are grieving and mourning the loss of their ancestral homeland, we understand that the negligence from our side is unforgivable. Armenians, as a nation of monumental history and religious tradition, ask for assistance from several international organizations to preserve our cultural monuments and places of worship that will be soon transferred to Azerbaijan. It can be expressed in guidance on how to establish mechanisms so that the historical narratives are not shifted, Armenian churches and cathedrals are remembered as true to their origin, are not written off and showcased as Albanian (this is a common refrain used by Azerbaijani scholars and officials to lay claim to everything Armenian – they announce centuries-old monuments to not be Armenian but Caucasian Albanian in their origin), and helping us ensure that our cultural heritage is not utterly destroyed and demolished physically as in the case of Nakhichevan. First Deputy Minister for Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan has already declared the Armenian monastery of Dadivank in the Kelbajar region with ancient carvings in Armenian to be “one of the best testimonies of ancient Caucasian Albania civilization”.

These concerns are not trivial. They are not untimely. We all have seen the government-sanctioned destruction Azerbaijan has committed in Nakhichevan, demolishing or laying claim on 89 Armenian churches and cathedrals, 5840 tombstones, intricate khachkars (cross-stones) and other ornate headstones, 22000 estimated flat tombstones of Armenian origin, including the medieval global trade networks launched by Djulfa merchants, the barbaric destruction of the medieval Djulfa cemetery, destruction of Surb Hakob or the three adjacent churches of Shorot, founded in the 12th century, Surb Karapet (Holy Precursor Church) in Abrakunis, among many others. Since Azerbaijan banned international fact-finders from visiting Nakhichevan, justice has never been restored, and the world only knows what has happened to these cultural monuments and traces of Armenian origin from satellite pictures.

Should we choose to not act right now, the Armenian cultural monuments and places of worship in Kelbajar, Lachin, Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Gubadli and Zangelan regions, the city of Shushi, ancient ruins of Tigranakert, will be destined to the same fate as the ones in Nakhichevan (more). 

A comprehensive guide to cultural monuments in the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) can be found here.

If you would like to help provide humanitarian relief to the people of Artsakh, click here.

Thank you for signing and not being indifferent. May the culture of your people always be celebrated!