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NGOs urge UNESCO to inspect Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia

11 February 2022 10:00 (UTC+04:00)
NGOs urge UNESCO to inspect Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia

By Vugar Khalilov

Azerbaijani NGO leaders have asked UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay to send an expert group to Armenia to assess the current state of Azerbaijan's centuries-old cultural and historical heritage, Azertag has reported.

The appeal was made at a UNESCO event in Armenia to assess the state of Azerbaijan's cultural heritage, according to the report.

It was emphasized that Armenia has consistently opposed the implementation of such a mission in order to conceal its nefarious and illegal activities.

However, as a result of a videoconference between the Azerbaijani, Armenian, French leaders and the European Council president on February 4, 2022, it was agreed that a UNESCO mission to Armenia and Azerbaijan would be realized.

“We do hope that Armenia, which took on this commitment, does not obstruct the execution of the UNESCO mission, and that as a consequence of the objective report of this mission, the whole world will be made aware of the actions committed against the Azerbaijani people's centuries-old heritage. Armenia will be held accountable for its conduct,” the statement said.

The NGO representatives underlined that they had constantly alerted UNESCO about Armenia's cultural genocide against the Azerbaijani people's heritage.

"As a result of a purposeful policy implemented by Armenia, the centuries-old cultural legacy of our people on Armenian land faces extinction," they stated.

It was stressed that Armenia committed ethnic-cultural genocide as well as ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis. There were no Azerbaijanis left in Armenia as a result of the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from their ancestral regions in the early 20th century. Over 250,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from their own regions and became refugees as a result of the final deportation in 1988 alone.

It was added that by pursuing a policy of both ethnic and cultural genocide, Armenia has purposefully erased all traces of Azerbaijanis, the historical and ancient residents of these territories, plundered, destroyed, embezzled and distorted the Azerbaijani people's cultural legacy. At the same time, ancient place names in these areas were changed with Armenian ones.

“We provided a number of precise facts in our earlier appeals to UNESCO. For example, along with other facts, we have emphasized that the Blue Mosque, the Gala Mosque, the Shah Abbas Mosque, the Tapabashi Mosque, the Zal Khan Mosque, the Sartib Khan Mosque, the Haji Novruzali Bay Mosque, the Damirbulagh Mosque, the Haji Jafar Bay Mosque, the Rajab Pasha Mosque, the Mohammad Sartib Khan Mosque, the Haji Inam Mosque and more than 300 other mosques located in Armenia were deliberately destroyed, appropriated or used for other purposes in the early 20th century. Only the Damirbulagh Mosque functioned as intended until 1988, but it has now been completely demolished and replaced by a high-rise building,” the statement added.

It noted that over 500 Azerbaijani cemeteries in Armenia, such as Aghadada, Ashaghi Shorja, Gullubulagh and Saral have been destroyed. The tomb of great Azerbaijani poet Ashig Alasgar, whose tombstone was erected in his native village in ancient Goycha district, was also destroyed.

In general, Armenia has deliberately destroyed thousands of Azerbaijani cultural heritage sites, which testifies to Armenia’s intolerance towards the Azerbaijani people, as well as an insult to all humanity.

All this proves that Armenia does not recognize any universal values and its impunity for all these illegal acts conveys a wrong message to the world community, the NGOs said urging steps against Armenia.

“For this purpose, the existing tools of international law should be deployed. In particular, the deliberate destruction, distortion and appropriation of cultural sites is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, in particular, the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1954 and 1970 UNESCO Conventions. These are war crimes. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage is also a matter of peace and security, as defined by UN Security Council Resolution 2347 adopted in 2017,” the statement stressed.

The request was signed by a number of Azerbaijani NGO representatives, and it included a list of tangible Azerbaijani cultural material that Armenia had appropriated.

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