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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Britannica Changed “Nakhichevan” to “Naxçıvan”

December 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm (Denial)

According to the “Article History” tab for the Britannica Encylopedia Online entry on the region of Nakhichevan (now part of Azerbaijan), Britannica’s associate editor Laura Etheredge changed the name of the region from the international and Armenian term, Nakhichevan, to the official Azerbaijani toponym Naxçıvan on August 18, 2010.

Britannica hasn’t changed so far Nakhichevan to Naxçıvan on Britannica Kids.

Britannica has used the term “Nakhichevan” for at least a hundred years.

It is unfortunate that Britannica is aiding Azerbaijan’s campaign of erasing Nakhichevan’s Armenian roots by changing the indigenous name of the region.

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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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Nakhichevan: Azeri journalist told “never come back”

March 12, 2009 at 3:52 am (Denial, Djulfa destruction, Righteous Azeris)

Idrak Abbasov, an Azeri journalist who confirmed the December 2005 destruction of the Djulfa cemetery in an Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) article in April 2006, has been harassed by the Azeri authorities in Nakhichevan and instructed to never visit the region.

Idrak Abbasov
Photo: Idrak Abbasov (via Radio Free Europe)

In the words of another Azeri journalist with IWPR:

An Azeri journalist said state security agents last week used the pretext of giving him an interview to detain, insult and abuse him.

Idrak Abbasov, a correspondent from the Zerkalo newspaper and an employee of the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety, IRFS, had traveled to the Nakhichevan region, which is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory.


“Just as soon as I sat at the table, my hands were forced round and tied, they even closed my eyes. They took my phone, my camera and my documents. They took me to a room I didn’t know and started to ask about the reasons for my trip in a rude way, with insults and threats. I tried to explain that I had come to report. They told me that no journalist can come to Nakhichevan without the agreement of the local authorities.”

He said one officer asked him about connections with local journalists, then accused him of being a spy for Armenia. After two hours of interrogation, the MTN officers told him to get off the territory of Nakhichevan and never come back. He said the stress had made him feel ill, and he had been taken to hospital.


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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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Canadian Response to Azerbaijan’s Angry Letter

February 6, 2008 at 5:58 am (Denial)

In an interview with a Sacred Heart University professor, The Armenian Reporter’s February 2, 2008 (on Reporter’s Washington editor Emil Sanamyan’s blog) issue has published COPRIM’s, a Canadian company, response to Azerbaijan’s angry reaction to COPRIM’s sponsorship of a November 2007 Harvard panel on the destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage in the region of Nakhichevan, a remote region of the South Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan:     

The undated letter signed by the Azerbaijani chargé d’affairesin Canada, Farid Shafiyev, told COPRIM “to withdraw support to this exhibition” alleging that it was an initiative of the “Armenian communities abroad [that] exhibit [a] radical and chauvinistic stance” and seek to create “the so-called Greater Armenia.” The communication also included pages of the Azerbaijani government’s anti-Armenian propaganda.


In response, a COPRIM attorney sent a letter to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Canada on November 18, stating that “the sponsorship and mounting of the Exhibition constitutes a legal act both in Canada and in the United States of America” and “constitutes an expression of one of the fundamental freedoms this country offers its citizens.”


The CORPIM attorney further noted that the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission’s “presence and activity in

Canada is limited to diplomatic representation between the Government of Canada and your Government, and between your Government and its citizens or nationals. You have no right, privilege or businessi. Writing directly to a Canadiancitizen who has not solicited anyassistance or information fromyou;ii. Advising a Canadian citizenon the exercise of his political andlegal rights;iii. Attempting to influence bypersuasion or threat, a Canadiancitizen engaged in lawful activity;iv. Interfering with a Canadiancitizen’s exercise of rights inCanada or in the United States ofAmerica;v. Invading the privacy of a Canadiancitizen by investigating theownership of COPRIM Inc., a Canadiancorporation.”The attorney further notified the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, and Harvard Universityof the Azerbaijani demarche and demanded “an immediate written retraction of your letter with an unconditional apology for having sent it, the whole within five (5) days.

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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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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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