Another US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Denied Access to Djulfa

November 17, 2012 at 4:29 am (Awareness, Denial, Djulfa destruction)

According to a statement on the website of the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, Ambassador Morningstar – like his predecessor Matthew Bryza – was denied access to the Djulfa cemetery.

Since my arrival in Baku as Ambassador, I have made an effort to become more familiar with this wonderful country, its people and history. Most recently, I traveled to Nakhchivan… It has been an opportunity to see this country’s diverse cultural heritage up close, an experience that I think is important for anyone coming to live and work in Azerbaijan.

The history of the region is a difficult one. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict resulted in thousands of deaths and severely altered the physical landscape of the region, including sites of historical, religious and cultural significance.

When I was in Nakhchivan, I discussed at length with local authorities one such site in Julfa, where, according to evidence from credible sources, an ancient Armenian cemetery was desecrated or destroyed. I regret that the authorities, citing security reasons, made it impossible for me to visit the site and personally see what is there.

Despite being denied access to Djulfa, Ambassador Morningstar sees light at the end of the tunnel:

I am nevertheless heartened by stories of efforts to protect each country’s heritage. Today in Baku, for example, I visited the Armenian Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, where I learned about the church’s history and the preservation of books and manuscripts in the Armenian language.

Ambassador Morningstar’s interest in preservation is laudable, but he seems to miss the point of the intentional destruction of Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan. The reason why the church in Baku he visited has been preserved is because, unlike medieval Djulfa, it was built in the 19th century. Official Azerbaijan claims that Armenians appeared in the Caucasus in the 19th century (despite Armenians’ thousands of years of rich history in the region).

Incidentally, Ambassador Morningstar’s statement was originally released through the Azerbaijani media. The Embassy promptly responded to our request for official confirmation of the statement and shortly after posted it online.

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A Music Video about Djulfa

January 2, 2012 at 6:34 am (Awareness, Commemoration, Djulfa destruction)

Armenoids and Nushik Tati made an Armenian music video last year about Djulfa (Jugha) and its destruction. Thank you to Emil Sanamyan from the Armenian Reporter for sharing the video with us. You can watch it at or below:

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Meet the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum Advisory Board

December 25, 2011 at 6:24 am (Awareness)

We are a volunteer-powered project, and are proud to have the guidance of a great team of specialists and human rights activists, listed at and below:

  • Dr. Lucy Der Manuelian: Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Professor of Armenian Art and Architectural History, Department of Art and Art History, Tufts University
  • Steinar Gil: Norwegian diplomat and philologist; Ambassador to Azerbaijan at the time of Djulfa’s destruction
  • Dr. Dickran Kouymjian: Haig & Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian History and Art, Emeritus, Director of Armenian Studies Program, Emeritus,  California State University, Fresno.  Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia
  • Jora Manoucherian: President of Research on Armenian Architecture – USA
  • Dr. Ian McIntosh: Director of International Partnerships and Projects at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Senior Editorial Advisor to Cultural Survival Quarterly, The World Report on the Rights, Voices and Visions of Indigenous Peoples
  • Dr. Anahit Ter-Stepanian: Professor of History of Architecture, Russian Modernism, and Art and Revolution at Southern Connecticut State University; Professor of Art History at Sacred Heart University

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The Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum in Asbarez

December 25, 2011 at 6:19 am (Awareness, Djulfa destruction)

Several newspapers mentioned us in their report on the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s satellite documentation of Djulfa’s destruction.

In particular, the California-based Asbarez Newspaper reported on December 8, 2010:


“Azerbaijan’s war against indigenous Armenian heritage in Nakhichevan cannot be justified in any way–including by the gridlock in the negotiations over the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that fought for independence in the early 1990s from Azerbaijan precisely so that a destruction similar to Djulfa’s would not take place there,” Simon Maghakyan, the founder and project Manager at the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum (, said today in a widely circulated email to media and advocacy groups.

“The loss of Djulfa was a blow to not just Armenian culture, but also to all world heritage,” said Maghakyan.

Maghakyan criticized UNESCO, “the organization charged with protecting our common heritage,” for its “shameful silence” on Djulfa’s destruction and urged action to tell UNESCO that “its unequivocal protest is long overdue.”

Maghakyan provides a more detailed account of the five-year rampage against Djulfa in a special blog post on the Amnesty International’s “Human Rights Now” blog. The post, titled “Cultural Oppression in Azerbaijan can be read here.

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Explore Djulfa Cemetery on Global Heritage Network

November 21, 2010 at 4:56 am (Awareness, Djulfa destruction)

Global Heritage Fund’s Google Earth-powered Global Heritage Network explores the destruction of Djulfa.

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Matthew Bryza and the Destruction of Djulfa

November 21, 2010 at 4:52 am (Awareness, Djulfa destruction)

Ambassador-designee-in-waiting Matthew Bryza was grilled by Armenian lobbies in the United States for his muted protest of the destruction of Djulfa when he was in charge of the South Caucasus region.

For articles on the Brzya controversy including Djulfa’s issue, check Asbarez here and here, and the website of the Armenian National Committee of America here.

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Fifth Anniversary Nearing

November 21, 2010 at 4:48 am (Awareness, Djulfa destruction)

Next month marks the fifth anniversary of the destruction of Djulfa.

To mark the anniversary, a satellite image comparison and analyses will be published reconfirming the destruction of the ancient cemetery through scientific data. A petition addressed to UNESCO will also be featured.

In the meantime, check out an interesting story on the destruction of Djulfa from a 2009 blog post.

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Artwork: Lost khatchkar from the cemetery

December 6, 2009 at 11:36 pm (Awareness, Djulfa destruction)

By Vahe Ashodian (USA) – published by permission

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Dr. Vugar Seidov’s ( communication to

December 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm (Awareness, Denial)

The following email was sent to Radio Free Europe publicizing a message to our website from an Azerbaijani “humanitarian consultant” and founder of Azerbaijan National Cultural Association of Hungary.

December 6, 2009

Dear Editor:

An otherwise predictable propaganda piece penned by a group of Azerbaijani activists commendably concludes “for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis to refrain from any hostile, derogatory, or inflammatory rhetoric.”

One of the coauthors of the latter opinion, regrettably, ignores his own advice in a message to an online project documenting Azerbaijan’s December 2005 demolition of the ancient Djulfa cemetery – on the Iranian border – in Nakhichevan. Dr. Vugar Seidov’s unsolicited email to our website on December 2, 2009 reads, in full:

“This is complete bullshit. If there is no Armenian in Julfa, why should there be a cemetery? Bye-bye, cemetery! You, idiots, should have taken your fucking khachkars with you when you left Julfa. Your fault. Keep crying, you Armenian nomads from Phrygie [sic].”

Dr. Seidov’s unhealthy reference to the thousands of sacred Armenian khatchkars, intricately carved tombstones reduced to dust in December 2005 and later replaced with a military rifle range, speaks for itself. His characterization of Armenians as “idiots” and “nomads” is disturbing too, to say the least.

Dr. Seidov’s barely concealed hatred is inconsistent with his self-promoted image as a consultant “on humanitarian, legal and international issues.” Bigots like him should have no platform at Radio Free Europe.

Simon Maghakyan
Founder and Project Manager
Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum –

The Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum documents the deliberate destruction of indigenous Armenian cultural monuments in Nakhichevan, Republic of Azerbaijan.

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Azerbaijan Denies Yet Another European Visit to Djulfa

July 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm (Awareness, Denial, Djulfa destruction)

When, in February 2006, the European Parliament officially condemned Azerbaijan’s December 2005 deliberate destruction of the world’s largest Armenian medieval cemetery – Djulfa – the Azeri authorities denied European delegations’ visit to the site.


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe  (PACE) delegation was already in Armenia – just miles away from Djulfa. But Azerbaijan didn’t allow them to visit the cemetery stating that the delegation must first visit Nagorno-Karabakh, the de facto Armenian republic that was placed under Azerbaijan by Stalin in the 1920s.  


The European delegation then decided to visit Nagorno-Karabakh. In fact, they planned to visit all the South Caucasus Republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to asses the situation of minority monuments.


Azerbaijan, which still claims Djulfa was never destroyed because it didn’t exist in the first place, then said that it would only agree to the visit IF the delegation visited Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan (which is impossible since Nagorno-Karabakh is in a technical war with Azerbaijan and the only real way to visit Nagorno-Karabakh is from Armenia).


In an apparent desperation in the face of Azerbaijan’s continuous tricks to keep the delegation out of Djulfa, Edward O’Hara  – head of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education – has suggested to drop the idea of visiting all countries at the same time and instead start off by visiting Azerbaijan first.


According to Azerbaijan’s Trend News agency, O’Hara said on June 21, 2008 that he wants to visit Baku – Azerbaijan’s capital city – and Nakhichevan, the area where Djulfa was destroyed, as part of his first visit. Azerbaijan’s reaction is, as always, most predictable. According to Trend, an Azeri official, says that “We can agree to [visiting Azerbaijan first], but only if the rapporteur [O’Hara] visits Nagorno-Karabakh and its nearby regions occupied by Armenia beginning from Azerbaijan. We want him to see the Azerbaijani monuments destroyed by Armenians in the occupied territories.”


The Azeri official, in his own words, “informed the rapporteur that Nakhchivan does not have any ancient Armenian moment.”


And that is exactly why O’Hara wants to visit Nakhichevan – a region where thousands of indigenous Armenian monuments were surveyed just two decades ago – and find out why there aren’t any ancient Armenian monuments.

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