And from Seychelles too

January 19, 2008 at 2:22 am (Djulfa destruction)

Apologies to the nation of Seychelles for failing to mention in our previous entry that an Internet user from Seychelles also has visited the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum. We are curious to know who! 🙂

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From Norway to Singapore A Silenced Story Is Being Heard

January 19, 2008 at 2:15 am (Denial)

Just days after the announcement of the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum, we have had hits from all over the world. 

Many of the visitors are from the United States, Canada, Turkey, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Russia, UK, the Czech Republic, Armenia, Sweden, Lebanon, Spain, Poland, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, France, Norway, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, United States Military and even Singapore.

A sad story of silenced sacred stones is being heard all over the world.  We hope that the Republic of Azerbaijan won’t ban the website.

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Azerbaijan Responds to the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum

January 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm (Denial, Djulfa destruction)

Armenians create website named Djulfa, Azerbaijani region and post false reports and footages

[ 18 Jan 2008 13:53  ]

“Website registered by Armenians falsifies the history of Nakhchivan, integral part of Azerbaijan, posts claims that this territory is an ancient Armenian land and false footages that Azerbaijanis destroy Armenian monuments in Djulfa,” parliamentarian Ganira Pashayeva told APA.

She said that the website named Djulfa is the next subversion of Armenians against Azerbaijan and added that all should worry about the fact that Armenians have squatted some of the domains connected with the names of Azerbaijan, Karabakh, Baku, Sumgayit, Nakhchivan and the occupied regions.
“The measurers should be accelerated for returning such domains, including to Azerbaijan and informing the world community about subversion against Azerbaijan. The relevant bodies should work out the process of registration of domains connected with the name of Azerbaijan in order to prevent such a problem in future. We should inform the world community on the level of media outlets, different embassies and Foreign Ministry that the materials posted on this website are false,” the parliamentarian said.
Ganira Pashayeva said that Armenians are anxious about our informing world community about vandalism acts of Armenia and their destructing cultural-historical monuments belonging to Azerbaijanis in occupied Azerbaijani regions including Nagorno Karabakh and historical lands of Azerbaijan and areas called Armenian Republic today and Armenians want to confuse international community.
“Not touching upon Armenian church in Baku is the indicator of the position of Azerbaijan in such issues. But all religious monuments belonging to Azerbaijan were destructed in Armenia today. This fact is enough for criticizing Armenians. To our regret, Armenians and their scientists posted articles covering these absurd and false claims against Azerbaijan in several encyclopedias, including Britanica encyclopedia,” she said.
MP stressed necessity of establishing body under one of the relevant state organizations for removing and observing this aggressive policy of Armenia against Azerbaijanis virtually.
“Especially, special measures should be taken for eliminating aggressive propaganda of Armenia against Azerbaijani monuments dating back to Christianity period. We should not allow Armenians to falsify history of Azerbaijan and present it to world community,” she said. /APA/


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Film “Julfa” on Cultural Destruction in Azerbaijan Available Online

January 10, 2008 at 5:41 am (Djulfa destruction, Djulfa history)

A version of the film “Julfa” by Research on Armenian Architecture, a non-profit organization, is now available online at

The film tells the history of the Djulfa (Jugha in Armenian) cemetery – from its past to the recent wipe out by Azerbaijani servicemen. It features unique footage from the December 2005 destruction with an especially disturbing scene of a crane pulling out a large cemetery tombstone from deep soil.

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Protecting Cultural Heritage – All of Them

January 8, 2008 at 4:40 am (Djulfa destruction)

Protecting cultural heritage

And the “both sides are to blame” argument

By Simon MaghakyanThe Armenian Reporter, January 5, 2008 Page A3

DENVER – “The Armenian side gave its consent to the realization of a monitoring [of cultural monuments by the Council of Europe] in the entire territory of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and we expect an analogous decision from the Azerbaijani side,” Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said in December 18 press conference. The foreign minister was making a reference to Armenia’s continued efforts to attract international attention to the destruction of the region’s cultural heritage.

Mr. Oskanian went on to say that Armenia is ready to allow such monitoring on its territory, whether or not Azerbaijan gives its consent. And so far there is no evidence that such consent by Azerbaijan is forthcoming.

While on a one-day visit to Nakhichevan last November, the U.S. Ambassador in Azerbaijan Anne Derse was confronted by angry Azeri students who were unhappy that an exhibit at Harvard University featured photographs of Armenian cultural heritage – today completely vanished – in Nakhichevan. During Mrs. Derse’s visit, the Nakhichevani branch of Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences issued an official statement proclaiming that “there is no Armenian historical or cultural monument among those registered” in the region.

In fact, these Armenian monuments no longer exist. One of the largest – the medieval cemetery of Djulfa – was wiped off the face of the earth two years ago, in December 2005, in a well-documented case of vandalism that was condemned by the European Union.

And according to what Jonathan Henick, Public Affairs Officer at the American Embassy in Baku, told this writer, “[t]he Ambassador and others at the Embassy have raised the issue of the Djulfa cemetery with Azerbaijani officials.”

But during her short visit to Nakhichevan, Mr. Henick said, “The Ambassador did not have the opportunity to travel outside of the capital city. She did visit a number of interesting cultural monuments in Nakhichivan city, but our understanding is that none of those monuments were of Armenian origin.”

Perhaps the Ambassador missed a chance to visit the site where the world’s largest Armenian cemetery existed not too long ago. Instead, the American Embassy, as articulated by Mr. Henick, offered an important message to Armenia and Azerbaijan that “joint efforts to preserve monuments in both countries would serve the interests of safeguarding the shared cultural heritage of this fascinating region and might also be a valuable confidence- building measure in the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.”

The well-intentioned statement of the Embassy resonates with a popular Western sentiment that “both sides are to blame” for the cultural destruction that is happening. This argument is in a way a form of political correctness and seeks not to dehumanize any ethnic group.

Yet this approach avoids analysis of specific cases and unintentionally supports the prejudiced “barbarian” argument – “Azeris are barbarians they have always destroyed Armenian monuments,” and vice versa. It suggests that if we accept that a certain aspect of an ethnic conflict – such as destroying the other’s culture – may be an official policy or a norm among one side and not necessarily and equally among the other then this one side is more “civilized” than the other.

In reality, cultural destruction during ethnic conflict and who destroys how much and how it goes about destroying is not a reflection of “clash of civilizations,” but a representation of a slew of historical and social circumstances. These do not demonstrate the “humanity” of one people or another but whether one or the other perceives the opposite side as much human.

While ethnic conflicts do typically involve misbehavior by both parties this does not necessarily mean that the “both sides” argument should be thrown out without actual evidence. This is what the European Parliament tried to do in its February 16, 2006, resolution on the destruction of the Djulfa cemetery by calling on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop destruction of the other’s monuments, although the resolution’s title was specifically about cultural heritage in Azerbaijan.

The recent and continuing destruction of Baku’s old Armenian cemetery, where many Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Georgians and Azeris are also buried, a year and a half after the European Parliament resolution demonstrates the ineffectiveness of this approach.

Careful analysis demonstrates that there is a state-sponsored, systematic and popularly supported destruction of Armenian monuments in the Republic of Azerbaijan. This has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt by non partisan experts such as Steven Sim – a researcher equally concerned and heavily critical of Armenia’s treatment of non- Armenian monuments.

Azerbaijan, too, has indirectly confirmed this assertion by suggesting that there have never been Armenian monuments in Nakhichevan and even in Karabakh. The Azeri leadership makes an exception only with Baku’s surviving Armenian cathedral – perhaps the only Armenian monument in Azerbaijan that has not been destroyed, although it was damaged in 1990 riots and shut down since then.

Elsewhere in Azerbaijan, there are no such exceptions. As reported by BBC, in March 2005 Armenian letters were removed from church walls and nearby tombstones in the village of Nizh in central Azerbaijan. “The Armenians argue,” the BBC reported at the time, “that churches with this type of [Armenian] inscription are an indication of their long roots in the region.”

This carefully-worded statement attributed to “the Armenians” is that Armenians are indigenous, at least in comparison, to the area and having a distinct alphabet they can demonstrate their long presence. This type of vandalism is essential in understanding the reasons for systematic deArmenization in Azerbaijan. The cultural destruction is, consequently, an attempt to deny Nakhichevan’s Armenian heritage.

Had the Azeris a distinct alphabet that could mark their past presence in Armenia and Karabakh – would Armenians too engage in systematic destruction of cultural monuments?

Armenia’s leaders have no such reasons to rewrite history and instead try to contrast their policies to what Azerbaijan has done to Armenian monuments. The restoration of two mosques in Karabakh with government funding is the most recent such example.

A more realistic picture of Azeri monuments in Armenia is one of neglect and ignorance, as Vanadzor-based journalist Naira Bulgadarian reported for the IWPR Caucasus Report in September 2007. There is also an effort to present Muslim monuments on Armenian territory as belonging only to the Persians, and not the Azeris – while both groups, as well as Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs, can lay claims to these monuments.

Yet, as Ms. Bulgadarian reported, the Armenian government has also allocated funds to catalogue and to safeguard Azeri cemeteries. An exhibit in Stepanakert late last year featured photographs of about 30 Muslim monuments in Karabakh.

Azerbaijani officials and activists, on the other hand, have to a large degree ridiculed the discussion of monuments in the South Caucasus. Last October and November, as part of the effort to thwart the Nakhichevan exhibit at Harvard, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry distributed letters and statements claiming that “Armenians destroyed over 100,000 cultural monuments, hundreds of cemeteries and 1,000-2,000-year-old archaeological monuments in the occupied Azerbaijani territory.”

These incredible numbers are presented without any evidence. Yet, the fact that Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly rejected outside investigation of the monument sites is telling of their insincerity when it comes to the protection of monuments, including the Azeri ones.

There is nothing dehumanizing about discussing cultural destruction and accepting the possibility that under certain circumstances one side of a conflict may have a different treatment of cultural monuments than the other. In fact, it should be the role of scholars and interested observers to have an objective, universal and apolitical approach to cultural destruction and call things by their names in order to contribute to preservation of cultural heritage of all involved.

It is also dehumanizing for Armenians to forget the Djulfa destruction. Last month was the second anniversary of the final destruction; few Armenian newspapers or organizations have taken notice.

It took Armenians fifty years to begin a campaign for Genocide affirmation. It has been only two years since Djulfa’s destruction, and it should not take as long to realize that a campaign is underway today to erase the Armenian heritage and with it Armenian presence from the remainder of their homeland.

(PHOTO): The Old Djulfa (Jugha) cemetery in the 1960s.

(IMAGE): A satellite image of the Djulfa site in September 2003 before its final destruction. At right bottom is the Arax river; the still standing or lying khachkars are the darker patches between the ridges and around the lighter area – which is the section where khachkars were removed before 2003. Source: DigitalGlobe.

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Forgotten Destruction in the Region Without Rights

January 3, 2008 at 3:57 am (Djulfa destruction)

The recent destructions of tea-houses and private properties of residents in the Nakhichevan exclave of the South Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan by the authorities have led to naming Nakhichevan “a region without rights.”  It turns out, nonetheless, that property destruction is not a new entity in the troubled area.
No, the reference is not to the old Armenian cemetery that was reduced to dust.  What we are talking about is property destruction by, perhaps, the same exact servicemen who destroyed the world’s largest Armenian artifact in December of 2005 in Julfa or Djulfa, Nakhichevan.
And here is what happened before the cemetery annihilation to ordinary Azerbaijanis who live in the same district:
193 words
26 June 2003

Turan Information Agency (Azerbaijan)

(c) 2003 Turan Information Agency. All Rights Reserved.

This morning policemen in Julfa regional centre, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, demanded demolition of about 50 shops, Safar Kerimov, owner of one of those shops, told TURAN’s local correspondent. However, policemen have presented no documents permitting demolition of shops.

About 1,000 local residents gathered near the shops to express protest at activities of police. Nakhchivan Minister of Construction also insisted on demolition of the shops. Despite shop owners’ attempts, neither representatives of local executive authorities, nor municipalities agreed to receive them. Local authorities do not explain the reason why the shops must be pulled down. Situation has become tense in the city, because part of Julfa population depends on the shops’ incomes. TURAN’s regional correspondent reports the same campaigns are periodically held in Nakhchivan as well. Authorities said these measures are taken to “create and extend living environment.” Each time the shop owners hold actions of protest, but authorities ignore them.

According to unofficial  information,  small-size  points  of trade are demolished to force their owners to rent sales areas in big trade  centres,  which  are  usually   controlled   by   high-ranking officials.

And this too:
118 words
27 April 2004

Turan Information Agency (Azerbaijan)

(c) 2004 Turan Information Agency. All Rights Reserved.

Police employees started to demolish nearly 200 private trading objects near Julfa custom check point in Nakhchyvan Autonomous Republci.

Owners of trading objects report that all shops were privatized and insured. Over two hundred persons gather in front of trading objects to demand for housebreaking to end. Otherwise they threaten to expatriate themselves.

The foregoing objects sold houseware and employed 1800 persons. Each shop is worth $3 thousand to $15 thousand.

The authorities motivate demolition of shops by building of new custom house on that place. Nobody explains to people who will compensate damages for loss of properties and if new objects will be provided instead.

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Azeri Press Release on “Deliberate Destruction by Armenia”

January 2, 2008 at 3:34 am (Denial)

A December 29, 2007 press release from the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan, published in full at The Journal of Turkish Weeklya nationalist periodical, talks about Azerbaijan’s efforts of “countering” the destruction of Djulfa by Azerbaijani servicemen in 2005. 

Attention of international community was drawn to the facts of deliberate destruction by Armenia of the historic and cultural monuments, occupied Azerbaijani cities and towns, as well as illegal economic activities in the occupied territories. Preparation, publication and dissemination of reports, books and other materials by MFA became a serious contribution to informing international community about the facts of vandalism in the Armenia- occupied Azerbaijani territories and Armenia’s international legal responsibility for the policy of occupation against Azerbaijan became.

At the 6th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Azerbaijan proposed a resolution on protection of the cultural rights and property during the armed conflicts, which was adopted unanimously. The issues on protection of the historic and cultural heritage of the Azerbaijani people remained a central point of our cooperation with UNESCO, Council of Europe and OIC.

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