Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Acts of state-driven terrorism committed against Old Jugha remain unpunished
Today, December 15, 2010, marks the fifth anniversary of the destruction of the historic cross-stones located at the medieval Armenian cemetery of Old Jugha, which stands as an element of world cultural heritage. On 15 December 2005, the Azerbaijani government organized an operation carried out by their military which, conducted in broad daylight, finally completed the decades-long destruction of around 5,000 unique and irreplaceable cross-stones located at the cemetery of Old Jugha in Nakhichevan, which is a historic Armenian heartland.
This Taliban-style act was not an accidental crime of barbarity but, rather, a state-sponsored act of cultural terrorism, outright genocide and conscious vandalism. The final act of this inhuman campaign against the legacy of ancient Armenian civilization was directed by the clear objective of destroying all traces of Nakhichevan’s Armenian belonging.
On the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Azerbaijan’s Academy of Sciences on 14 December 2005, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued a call for his country’s scholars and academic institutions to “prove” to the international community the “lack” of the Artsakh (Karabagh) Armenians’ historical rights to the territory of Mountainous Karabagh and to substantiate his thesis that “being guests and appearing in Karabagh only in the 1870s, the Armenians have no historical rights over the territory of Mountainous Karabagh.”
If, in the case of Artsakh, these “scholars,” who have become complicit in the large-scale propaganda projects generously subsidized by the Azerbaijani president, were compelled to accomplish their “task” by merely falsifying history in foreign languages—since the Artsakh Armenians had “cut the leg” of the genocidal Azerbaijani state—in the case of the Armenian cultural heritage preserved in Nakhichevan this legacy was a slap in the face to Aliyev’s false historiography and was making the millions of potential petrodollars null and void. Thus, the army of the aggressor state was mobilized to execute that despicable objective, resulting in the destruction of the centuries-old cross-stones, “killed” one by one, and a military facility was constructed in its place, on the very hallowed ground where the cemetery had once stood for centuries.
By this action, the Azerbaijani leadership has reconfirmed that the Azerbaijani state only continues to be a threat, not solely to the Armenians, but also a threat to world civilization, and that not only the Armenians, but their cemeteries and their history have become persona non grata for Azerbaijan.
Since 2007, and on numerous occasions since then, the Heritage party and its leader Raffi K. Hovannisian, along with Heritage party Members of Parliament Zaruhi Postanjyan, Larisa Alaverdyan and Stiopa Safaryan have consistently spoken out against this crime committed in Old Jugha before the parliamentary assemblies of the PACE, OSCE and NATO, and before other international platforms, and also to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, insisting that a corresponding international fact-finding group must be sent to that region.
If that had been a Semitic or any other denominational or religious cemetery, the world would have been duly outraged, and at every forum or assembly this issue would have been on the agenda. This state-driven terrorism, however, was not only never discussed within international structures and simply condemned, but since 2007, Azerbaijan has been repeatedly hindering and restricting PACE and even UNESCO rapporteurs’ access to Nakhichevan.
Once and for all, the world needs to say NO to all states that commit and then deny human, national, and cultural genocides. The Azerbaijani state and its leadership must be held accountable, not solely for its genocide committed against the Armenians of Azerbaijan and Artsakh, but also for the cultural genocide committed against an entire civilization.
And the authorities and corresponding state bodies of the Republic of Armenia must see to it that international justice and international law are applied equitably and, inter alia, are enforced in the name of preserving the Armenian cultural heritage.
So that the human, national, and cultural genocides committed against the Armenian people may never again be repeated, the international community, including Armenia, must immediately recognize the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh, its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The return of Nakhichevan home to its native Armenian patrimony must follow.
And the foundation and anchor for all this is a strong, just, and rightful Republic of Armenia.