The Armenians have destroyed hundreds of historical and religious monuments in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, Chairman of the Azerbaijani State Committee for the Work with Religious Organizations Mubariz Gurbanli told Trend on Oct. 7.
“Thus, the Armenians want to obliterate the historical traces, the spiritual memory of the Azerbaijanis who lived for thousands of years in these territories,” the chairman said. “The Armenian vandalism is also observed in relation to the Azerbaijani historical monuments located in the occupied territories.”
“There are 403 historical and religious monuments in the occupied territories, including 67 mosques, 144 churches and 192 sanctuaries,” Gurbanli said. “These cultural samples belong not only to the Azerbaijani people, but to the entire humanity. From this point of view, protection of the monuments is of international importance. This is aggression not only against Azerbaijan, Islam, but also against the culture of mankind.”
“The Armenians not only dismantled the inscription on the Upper Govheraga Mosque in the Azerbaijani language and replaced it with a board with the words 'Historical and Cultural Monument, Upper Mosque, 1883, is protected by the state'. They also changed the facade of the mosque,” the chairman said. “This must be seen as a continuation of vandalism aimed at the heritage of the Azerbaijani people.”
Gurbanli stressed that the destruction and intentional damage to historical and cultural monuments as a result of the arbitrariness of the Armenian occupiers contradicts the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property during armed conflict, the 1992 European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, and the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972.
“Despite this, the invaders continue to carry out illegal archaeological excavations on our territory, destroy historical monuments and mosques, and falsify our historical and cultural heritage,” the chairman said.
“Not only Islamic monuments, but also monuments of the period of Caucasian Albania are subjected to aggression in the occupied territories,” Gurbanli said. “The acts of falsification and misappropriation of all Christian monuments are committed in the occupied territories.”
“We have repeatedly sent the appeals to the international organizations on this issue,” the chairman said. “We demanded Armenia to be hold legally accountable for its vandalism. We want these atrocities to get an international assessment.”
Gurbanli stressed that according to the available information, the work in the Upper Govheraga Mosque has been carried out by the Iranian company Part Saman Cahan Co.
“The Armenian side even stressed that this choice is not random because supposedly this mosque is closely related to Iran’s history and culture,” the chairman added. “In general, the pearls of Islam belonging to the Azerbaijani people in the occupied Azerbaijani territories are purposefully set up for the monuments of the Iranian cultural heritage. For example, as is known, the Azerbaijani national-architectural style of the Blue Mosque in Yerevan has been set up for the Iranian style, although all the historical and cultural monuments in the occupied Azerbaijani territories belong to the Azerbaijani people and their cultural heritage.”
“During the period of Panah-Ali Khan’s power, a mosque was built of cane and reed in the place of this mosque," Gurbanli said. "The mosque was rebuilt by Ibrahim Khalil khan from stone in 1768. It is a well-known historical fact that in 1883-1884, the Upper Govheraga Mosque was built by architect Karbalai Safihan Sultanhuseyn oglu Garabagi upon the instructions of the daughter of Ibrahimkhalil Khan Govheraga.”
“initially, this mosque was without minarets and looked modestly,” the chairman said. “Apparently, Govheraga did not like it and therefore the 'Upper Mosque', which survived up till now, was built there. According to the Armenian press, the 'restoration project' of the Upper Govheraga Mosque is being implemented through the financial and moral support of the 'Artsakh government', the Armenian Revival of Oriental Historical Heritage Foundation and the Iran-Armenia Friendship Association.”
Gurbanli emphasized that according to the available information, head of Part Saman Cahan Co, Sayid Nahavandi, received a higher education as an architect in Armenia, and this is a significant fact.
“Great interior changes made by Armenians in the Upper Govheraga Mosque under the pretext of repair causing great damage to the monument, and the statements made by the Armenians that this monument allegedly does not belong to the Azerbaijani people testify again to the Armenia’s aggressive policy,” the chairman said.
“Carrying out illegal 'repair and restoration work' in the mosque, grossly violating all the norms and principles of international humanitarian law and attracting a foreign company to this process, along with an encroachment on the Azerbaijani culture, is also an attempt against the Islamic world and world culture,” Gurbanli said.
“From this point of view, the participation of a company of neighboring, friendly Iran in this process is extremely sad,” the chairman said. “On this occasion, we have repeatedly appealed to the leaders of the Iranian relevant state structures, as well as to the embassy of this country in Azerbaijan. The destruction of monuments and the falsification of history as a result of the Armenians’ aggressive policy is the moral terror directed against the entire Islamic world. The participation of any Muslim country or its citizen in this terror is unacceptable.”
Gurbanli also expressed hope that friendly, fraternal Iran will stop attempts of the Armenians living in the country to harm the Azerbaijan-Iran relations.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
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