Culture Minister: Targeting cultural heritage is war crime [PHOTO]
By Laman Ismayilova
A briefing for foreign diplomatic corps and media representatives on "Armenia's crimes against the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan" was held at ADA University on October 28.
The briefing was attended by Assistant to the Azerbaijani President, head of the Presidential Administration's Foreign Policy Department Hikmat Hajiyev, First Deputy Minister of Culture, Acting Culture Minister Anar Karimov and ADA University Vice Rector Fariz Ismayilzade.
In his speech, Fariz Ismayilzadeh stressed that Armenia's policy of military aggression and aggression against Azerbaijan which has lasted for almost 30 years, also targets Azerbaijan's cultural heritage.
Speaking at the briefing, Hikmat Hajiyev said that the Armenian armed forces continue to aggressively attack Azerbaijani settlements, firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in settlements far from the military zone of the defeated country.
As a result of Armenia's aggression, four civilians were killed in a rocket attack on Garayusifli village of Barda region on October 27. Another terrorist act was carried out in Barda the following day.
The Assistant to the Azerbaijani President noted that one of the goals of Armenia's policy of aggression is to deliberately destroy the national heritage of the Azerbaijani people. These are ethnic and cultural cleansing, war crimes. The cultural genocide committed by Armenia against the Azerbaijani people is an attack on Azerbaijani culture and world cultural monuments in general.
In his remarks, Anar Karimov said that Karabakh is the cradle of Azerbaijani culture, which Armenia has occupied for almost 30 years, looted its cultural heritage and destroyed its historical monuments.
He noted that Karabakh, which has a rich cultural heritage, is home to such great personalities and cultural figures as Panahali khan Javanshir, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Molla Panah Vagif, Bulbul, Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev and many others.
Anar Karimov noted that the destruction of historical monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, the looting of cultural heritage is aimed at destroying the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis in these areas.
The destruction of historical monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh, which testify to the centuries-old existence of the Azerbaijani population, is an attempt to lose these traces, to destroy the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis.
According to statistics from the early 1990s, 2,625 monuments were registered in the occupied territories.
This list includes 11 monuments of international importance, 240 of national importance and 455 of local importance, In total, 706 monuments were protected by the state.
He also noted that hundreds of cultural institutions, including 927 libraries with 4.6 million books, 808 palaces of culture, clubs and houses of culture, 85 music and art schools, 22 museums and museum branches with more than 100,000 exhibits, 4 art galleries. , 4 theaters, 2 concert halls, 8 culture and recreation parks, as well as one of the oldest settlements in the world in the Fuzuli region - Azykh cave, Shusha State Historical-Architectural Reserve fell victim to Armenian vandalism.
The same trace can be also traced in Zangilan, which was recently liberated by the Azerbaijani Army.
The Minister stressed that the use of the mosque in Zangilan as a stable is a violation of international norms and an insult to the Islamic world.
"This is an act of vandalism. We hope that this fact will be strictly condemned and evaluated by international organizations. We hope that international organizations will call on Armenia to stop targeting and destroying historical monuments," he said.
Nearly 300 mosques were registered in the Irevan province in the early twentieth century. Only the Blue Mosque has partially survived so that Armenian side could hide its aggressive actions from the international community.
Speaking about the recent atrocities committed by the Armenian armed forces, Anar Karimov said that the rocket attack on Ganja, a second largest city and the ancient cultural center of Azerbaijan, about 80 kilometers from the conflict zone, not only killed and injured civilians, but also damaged historical buildings. Other monuments, such as the 19th-century Ganja Gymnasium, the ninth-century Imamzadeh Mosque, and the 19th-century Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church, were also damaged by Armenian rocket attacks.
Anar Karimov noted that manuscripts and other valuable exhibits owned by museums in the territories occupied by Armenia were destroyed or stolen and sold on black markets. In addition, valuable examples of Azerbaijani carpet weaving were looted.
"We will raise the issue of how to bring them back. This includes valuable exhibits and our carpets. We found our valuable carpets at some auctions. We will continue to return those carpets and valuable exhibits to our country," said Karimov.
"Targeting cultural heritage is a war crime. For more than 27 years, Armenia has been systematically and deliberately destroying or changing the nature of 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 the 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.
The damage to historical and cultural monuments, houses of culture, libraries, theaters, music schools and museums located in the regions liberated by the Azerbaijani Army would be measured.
Relevant monitoring would be carried out and the Ministry of Culture will restore these monuments and cultural institutions.
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