UK publication uncovers Armenia's vandalism in "Hiroshima of the Caucasus”
Thirty years of Armenian occupation did not take pity on anyone or anything, leaving thousands of people homeless, destroying lives, as well as the cultural and historical heritage of Azerbaijan. With the sole goal to pursue ethnic cleansing, the Armenian regime, which speaks about “Arstakh” being their homeland, did nothing but destroy and wreak havoc in what is said to be their “dear lands”.
Armenia did not even attempt to repopulate and flourish the Karabakh region but rather simply wiped down cities and villages, leaving everything in ruins.
In this vein, Azerbaijan’s Aghdam, which is often referred to as the “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”, has fallen victim to Armenia’s policy of ethnic cleansing with Juma Mosque being the only building that remains standing among the vast area of ruins.
Prior to the occupation, Aghdam was considered the commercial center of the entire region, where 143,000 people lived in the city with 124 villages. Some 145 historical and cultural monuments were registered in Aghdam and none of them survived the total destruction.
In a recent article titled “'They destroyed everything': Inside the war-torn lands of Azerbaijan's 'Hiroshima'” published in the UK’s “Express”, the author John Varga writes about his two-day trip to Azerbaijan’s liberated territories.
“The destruction and devastation is almost total, yet very little of it was inflicted by military means and warfare. The evidence speaks overwhelmingly of a calculated and deliberate attempt to eradicate any trace of the Azerbaijani people and their culture from these lands,” the British journalist wrote.
Moreover, the publication underlined that the Armenian military first looted the abandoned houses and then sold the empty properties to other Armenians and even Iranians for between US$200-300.
“The purchasers stripped the houses for all they were worth - first, they took furniture, washing machines and other household goods, before carting off bricks, stones, roof tiles and window frames. Finally, they set fire to what was left of the house, leaving nothing but some charred remains and a few bricks,” the article continued.
The journalist also did not miss Armenia’s eradication of any trace of the former inhabitants and their culture, specifically when it came to mosques and cemeteries.
But Varga was not the first journalist horrified by the tragedy of Azerbaijan’s liberated lands. A video reportage produced by the Associated Press stressed how “the return of Aghdam is a triumph for Azerbaijan, but the joy of returning is mixed with sadness and anger because one has to return to a devastated city.” The world-famous photographer Reza Deghati, who has lived in France for many years, visited Azerbaijan both during the First and the Second Karabakh Wars and pictured the aftermaths of the destructions.
Despite this aggression, the “Hiroshima of the Caucasus” is now being rebuilt and will welcome its first residents in 2025. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has made the reconstruction and rebuilding of Karabakh a priority of his political agenda by investing billions of dollars into the construction of new roads, airports, railways, houses and energy infrastructure.
In 2021, Azerbaijan allocated $1.5 billion for the reconstruction of liberated territories, followed by AZN 2.2 billion ($1.2 billion) in 2022. These funds will be used primarily to restore infrastructure (electricity, gas, water, communications, roads, education, health, and so on) as well as cultural and historical monuments.
“We are building nine new cities and initially more than 300 villages and towns from scratch. This is a rare and unprecedented model of post-conflict reconstruction by a national government using its own financial resources. In 2021-2022, the state of Azerbaijan spent about $4bn on reconstruction in liberated areas. This year, we plan to allocate at least $1.7bn.” President Ilham Aliyev stated.
The Azerbaijani leader has invested projects worth 40 million manats ($23 529) in the Aghdam Industrial Park, the number of residents of which has reached 15.
With the continuous investments in the reconstruction of Azerbaijan's liberated territories, the vandalized cities and villages are surely destined to blossom in the nearest future.
Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl
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