By Akbar Mammadov
Armenian occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions in the war in the early 1990s has forced around one million Azerbaijani civilians from their homes, causing unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the country.
The occupation has also caused material damage, which is estimated at over $23 trillion, Trend has reported.
The Armenian vandalism following the occupation has resulted in the destruction of the Azykh and Taglar caves, the “Qara kopek” and “Uzerlik” hill kurgans which were the first human settlements in the occupied territories and are now used for military purposes.
Reigious and historical monuments in the occupied territories have also been subjected to aggression.
Cemeteries, tombs, gravestones, mosques, monuments belonging to Caucasian Albania in the territories of Shusha, Lachin, Kalbajar, Zangilan, Fizulu regions, our national cultural values proving the existence of Azerbaijanis in those lands have been subjected to aggression.
Armenians have painted names on the walls in Azykh cave, which represents vandalism against not only Azerbaijani culture and history, but also against world cultural heritage.
Azerbaijani MP Jale Aliyeva has told Trend that all literary samples created in the ojag (a place where something emerges or is created) of Ashiq Shamshir- written monuments by Miskin Abdal, Ashig Gurban, Ashiq Shamshir – have been burnt to ashes by Armenians. The monuments of prominent public figures Khan Shushiniski, Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Khursidbanu Natavan have been desecrated.
There are destructions of other cultural heritage related to literature, art, music.
Armenians have also used Azerbaijani mosques to keep animals.
It should be noted that the arbitrariness of the Armenian occupiers in the occupied territories, the deliberate destruction of historical and cultural monuments contradicts the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict, the 1992 European Convention and the 1972 UNESCO Convention.
The destruction of our material and cultural monuments in the occupied territories continues today as unprofessional excavations are being carried out in those territories. The finding of these excavation words are looted and taken to Armenia.
For example, Museum of History in the Kalbajar district with its unique collection of ancient coins, gold and silverware, rare and precious stones, carpets and other handicraft wares, museums in Shusha, the Lachyn Museum of History, the Aghdam Museum of History and the Bread Museum and others have also been destroyed, plundered, and their exhibits put on sale in different countries, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has reported. The Azerbaijani government has paid $500,000 to buy the bronze statues of the poetess Natavan, the composer Uzeyir Hajybayov, the singer and musician Bulbul looted from the occupied territories. The monuments would be sold as bronze scrap metal in Georgia if the Azerbaijani Government had not intervened. Similarly, a silver handbag looted from the Lachyn Museum of History was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London for $80,000.
Armenia has been conducting so-called “archaeological excavations” in the “Azykh” cave in the occupied Khojavand district since 2003 and in the area near the occupied city of Aghdam since March 2005.
It should be noted that in 2017, Azerbaijan raised in UNESCO the issue of violation of international law by foreign nationals engaged in illegal archaeological activity in Azerbaijan’s territories occupied by Armenia.
Overall, 13 world-important, 292 national and 330 local historical and cultural monuments, 22 museums with more than 40,000 items, 927 libraries with 4.6 million books, 808 clubs, 4 theatres and 2 concert halls, 8 culture and recreation parks, 4 art galleries, 85 music schools are located in the occupied territories. All these important facilities are still being destroyed by the Armenian occupiers.
The cultural monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan include the 11- and 15-arch medieval Khudafarin bridges and Niftaly mounds of the Bronze Age in Jabrayil, Albanian medieval Ganjasar and Khudavang cloisters in Kalbajar, the fourteenth-century Gutlu Musa oghlu tomb and Uzarliktapa residential area of the Bronze Age in Aghdam, the Azykh and Taghlar caves of the Paleolithic Age in Khojavand, and mounds of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Khojaly.
Among the destroyed architectural monuments are also Haji Novruzali Bey Mosque in Iravan, built by Gara Seyid in the second half of the XVIII century and the palace complex, called “Sardar Palace” or “Khan Palace”, also in Iravan, a valuable example of the palace architecture of Safavis and Gajars periods. Sardar Mosque of Iravan (sometimes referred to as Abbas Mirza Mosque) was also subject of systematic destruction until it was reportedly raised to the ground in 2014.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region, which along with seven adjacent regions was occupied by Armenian forces in a war in the early 1990s. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and around one million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France has been mediating the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the signing of the volatile cease-fire agreement in 1994. The Minsk Group’s efforts have resulted in no progress and to this date, Armenia has failed to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) that demand the withdrawal of Armenian military forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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