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Western Azerbaijani Community calls for UNESCO fact-finding mission in Armenia

27 March 2023 18:13 (UTC+04:00)
Western Azerbaijani Community calls for UNESCO fact-finding mission in Armenia
Sabina Mammadli
Sabina Mammadli
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Western Azerbaijani Community urged UNESCO to send a fact-finding mission to Armenia to assess the state of Azerbaijani cultural heritage there, Azernews reports.

In the letter addressed to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, the community also called on the organization to assess Armenia’s level of compliance with its international obligations relating to the protection of cultural heritage and cultural rights.

Expressing concern with the destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia, the community stated its readiness to collaborate with UNESCO in carrying out activities aimed at assessing, restoring, preserving, and protecting Azerbaijani cultural heritage in Armenia, and ensuring the cultural rights of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to access and enjoy their cultural heritage.

The appeal informed that all Azerbaijanis were expelled from Armenia, where they once constituted the absolute majority, stressing that Azerbaijani historical and cultural heritage, including mosques and graveyards, were destroyed in Armenia. It was noted that the Armenian government destroyed and damaged Azerbaijani tangible and intangible culture before, during and in the aftermath of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

“The driving force for the destruction of Azerbaijani cultural heritage has been the systematic policy of racial discrimination by the Government of Armenia aimed at creating a mono-ethnic and mono-cultural space, a notorious objective that has unfortunately become the reality in this country,” the appeal read.

The letter pointed out that the only surviving mosque in Armenia, the Blue Mosque in Yerevan, is misrepresented as ‘a Persian mosque’ despite the fact that it was built and for centuries had been attended by Azerbaijanis.

Besides, it was underlined that the Tapabashi quarter of Yerevan, the last remaining trace of Azerbaijani culture, is now under threat of total annihilation.

“The Goycha Ashiq school, the backbone of the Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq, itself inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, took an irreplaceable loss due to Armenia’s ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis of the Goycha district, in nowadays Armenia. The Government of Armenia even demonstratively destroyed the monument and the grave of Ashiq Alasgar, a prominent representative of the Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq, in his native Goycha,” the appeal highlighted.

The community called for the peaceful return of the expelled Azerbaijanis from Armenia in safety and dignity, and the ensuring of their rights upon return.

“Protection of cultural heritage is not only a requirement of international humanitarian law but also a fundamental human right as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Enjoying cultural heritage is central to the concept of the dignified return of expelled people. Ensuring cultural rights, i.e. human creativity in all its diversity and the conditions for it to be exercised, developed, made accessible, preserved, and protected, is part of our fundamental rights, which Armenia has the obligation to ensure prior to, during, and after our return to our homes,” the letter continued.

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