UNESCO, the organization charged with protecting our global heritage, responded in February 2011 to our December 2010 petition asking it to hold Azerbaijan responsible for deliberately destroying the magnificent medieval Djulfa (Old Jugha) cemetery by officially discontinuing addition of monuments from Azerbaijan to the World Heritage List.
While the UNESCO letter says protection of Armenian heritage is of “constant concern” and acknowledges having received prior inquiries, it beats the same ineffective drum of calling on Azerbaijan to let UNESCO investigate the site of the cemetery – which is tantamount to inaction since Azerbaijan has consistently denied access to the cemetery and will continue to do so. That’s exactly why the American Association for the Advancement of Science used satellite techonology to investigate the destruction.
It is disappointing to see UNESCO unwilling to condemn the destruction of Djulfa, let alone hold Azerbaijan accountable for it. Very disappointing.
The UNESCO response is available at http://www.djulfa.com/unesco-response-to-2010-dvmm-petition/ and below:
Our founder Simon Maghakyan sent the following reply, available at http://araratmagazine.org/2011/03/silenced-sacred-stones/:
Your expression of “hope” to investigate the cemetery site is worth nothing, given the fact that you will never be allowed to visit Nakhichevan to investigate Djulfa’s (Old Jugha’s) destruction by the government of Azerbaijan which has used a number of excuses to deny access to the cemetery for many years and will continue hindering an investigation at any price.
That’s exactly why the American Association for the Advancement of Science used satellite technology to investigate the destruction, conclusively proving what video material and independent Azerbaijani journalist Idrak Abbasov (who has been abused by the authorities for his work) have already documented – that the Djulfa cemetery has disappeared from the face of the earth.
Instead of expressing false “hope” to be allowed to investigate the cemetery, you should condemn a priceless global heritage’s deliberate destruction documented beyond reasonable doubt.
It is very disappointing that UNESCO doesn’t have the will to condemn the destruction of the world’s largest medieval Armenian cemetery. The government of Azerbaijan has not only silenced thousands of sacred stones which were the proof and symbol of the Armenian heritage in Nakhichevan but has apparently effectively silenced UNESCO as well. I pray that you find the courage to reverse your inaction on this important violation of cultural rights.