By Laman Ismayilova
First Deputy Minister of Culture, Acting Minister of Culture Anar Karimov has appealed to UNESCO Director-General Odre Azuley.
In the statement, Anar Karimov touched upon humanitarian ceasefire that Azerbaijan and Armenian agreed for the exchange of prisoners and the recovery of the bodies of those killed in the conflict. Azerbaijan Armed Forces withdrew from the conflict zone on the first day of the ceasefire, while Armenian side violated a new humanitarian ceasefire and launched missile attacks on Ganja, the second-largest city in Azerbaijan
He stressed that 3 children lost both parents, more than 10 residential buildings and more than 100 civilian infrastructure were damaged as a result of this inhumane act.
In his appeal, Karimov stressed that the intention of the Armenian missile attack was to commit terrorist acts against innocent civilians.
"For the first time, using high-destructive SCUD ballistic missiles, the Armenian armed forces sought to cause fear and provoke discord among people with intention of causing as much damage and destruction as possible. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, this is a war crime and must be strongly condemned by the international community. Such a barbaric act can never be justified because nothing can justify the deliberate firing of civilians. The Armenian armed forces are targeting civilians as well as journalists working in the conflict zone. Recently, the staff of the Azerbaijani National Television came under fire from the Armenian armed forces, as a result of which two journalists were injured and their cars were damaged. It should be noted that in violation of the obligations of freedom of the press and international expression, the Armenian Foreign Ministry has revoked the accreditation of "Novaya Gazeta" by Russian journalists due to independent reports from the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia. As a result of Armenia's indiscriminate shelling, educational infrastructure, religious and cultural monuments and buildings are being seriously damaged. According to the latest information, 37 schools have been damaged or destroyed so far," said in the statement.
The Minister stressed that along with the 19th-century Ganja Gymnasium, other monuments, including Imamzadeh Mosque (19th century) and the Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church (19th century) were damaged due to Armenia's constant rocket attacks.
In his appeal, Anar Karimov emphasized the role of Ganja in the history and life of Azerbaijani people.
"This city is not only one of the cultural centres of the region, known for its great poets and philosophers such as Nizami Ganjavi, Abulula Ganjavi, Mahsati Ganjavi, but also historically symbolizes the strength and resilience of the Azerbaijani people against foreign aggression. Taking this into account, it's no coincidence that in 1918, Ganja became the capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic that was the first democracy in the Muslim world," the Minister noted
"As you know, targeting cultural heritage is a war crime in accordance with the ICC's famous decision in 2016 regarding the case of Al-Mahdi. For more than 27 years, Armenia has been systematically and deliberately destroying or changing the nature of the cultural and historical heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. This was documented by the OSCE fact-finding missions in the occupied territories in 2005 and 2010. In addition, satellite images and reports from international media show that these illegal actions violate international humanitarian law, including the 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols," he added.
"As a loyal member of UNESCO, Azerbaijan has always supported the noble mission of the Organization as a valuable element of the collective memory and identity of the people to preserve its cultural heritage. As you know, my country has supported both the technical and financial support of the development and publication of the Military Guide to the Protection of Cultural Property, which is widely used not only by UNESCO member states but also by other international organizations such as NATO. This instruction is the first such publication informing the military about the protection of cultural property during armed conflicts," said in the statement.
Notably, Azerbaijan and UNESCO have been enjoying successful cooperation since 1992. In 2003, the parties signed the framework agreement on cooperation in the areas of culture, science, education and communication, which allowed Azerbaijan to become one of the donors of UNESCO.
Many Azerbaijan's cultural sites have been included into UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Icherisheher (Old City), Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah's palace were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000, while since 2007 the Gobustan National Historical-Artistic reserve was also listed among these heritages.
Shaki, a significant city at the crossroads of the historic Silk Roads was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee held in Baku.
In 2017, UNESCO recognized Azerbaijan's dolma as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Art of crafting and playing with kamancha, presented jointly by Azerbaijan and Iran, was also inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
UNESCO successfully celebrated the 600th anniversary of the death of the great Azerbaijani poet and thinker Imadaddin Nasimi and the 200th anniversary of the first settlement of Germans in Azerbaijan last year.
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