For almost 30 years, Armenia has continued to illegally occupy around 20% of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory including the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts.
The UN Security Council condemned the Armenian invasion and occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories, making its position clear and unambiguous by adopting four resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884), which addressed Armenian aggression. The Security Council condemned the seizure and occupation of all occupied areas in Azerbaijan and demanded the immediate cessation of all armed hostilities along with the unilateral withdrawal of occupying forces from all those districts and areas. That was 1993. However, Armenia violates all the above-mentioned resolutions and a ceasefire agreement signed with Azerbaijan in 1994.
Starting from the early morning on September 27, units of the Armenian armed forces, grossly violating the ceasefire, shelled Azerbaijani positions using artillery mounts. Today, the Armenian army deliberately targets the civilian population, and damage civilians’ facilities and infrastructure, and hospitals in Tartar and Goranboy districts of Azerbaijan, grossly violating the requirements of the regulation of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions.
Hundreds of cultural institutions, including 22 museums and museum branches with over 100,000 artefacts, 4 art galleries, 4 theatres, 2 concert venues, 8 cultural and entertainment parks, more than 700 historical and cultural monuments, including Khodaafarin bridges with 11 and 15 arches in Jabrail district (7th-12th centuries), the Ganjasar and Khudavand temples in Kalbajar (13th century), a mausoleum in Khachyn Turbatli village of Aghdam (14th century), Azykh cave in Fuzuli, one of the world’s oldest settlements, and Shusha State Architectural Reserve, along with residential, educational, industrial and agricultural facilities in the territories occupied as a result of Armenia’s vandalism and aggression against Azerbaijan have been either destroyed or damaged. Vandalism, destruction, and appropriation of Azerbaijani historical and architectural complexes on the occupied territories continue today. Currently, Azerbaijan responds to Armenian army attacks with a successful counter-offensive operation to put an end to the injustice, to the 30-year-long occupation.
Azerbaijan is an active member of the international bodies such as UNESCO, those are built and empowered to prevent further devastations caused by armed conflicts. There are the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1972 World Heritage Convention, and many other international agreements aimed at preventing the annihilation of human heritage. The destruction and desecration by Armenia of the cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is the worst atrocity not only against the people of Azerbaijan but also against all humanity. Putting an end to the brutal aggression and preventing further destruction, should be a concern of not only Azerbaijan but also the whole world.
Dr Shirin Melikova,
Chairperson of ICOM Azerbaijan