Arminfo.info



 Monday, June 24 2024 11:37
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Total number of destroyed heritage sites by Azerbaijan in occupied  territories of Artsakh rose by 75%; Caucasus Heritage Watch sounds  alarm

Total number of destroyed heritage sites by Azerbaijan in occupied  territories of Artsakh rose by 75%; Caucasus Heritage Watch sounds  alarm

ArmInfo.Caucasus Heritage Watch (CHW) in its 7th Monitoring Report on the situation around  Artsakh signals a 75% increase in cases of destruction of Armenian heritage in the occupied territories of the NKR by Azerbaijan.

"Our last monitoring report (#6) was released in December 2023 in the  aftermath of the final expulsion of Armenian residents in  Nagorno-Karabakh in late September. For a brief moment, global  attention focused on the welfare of some 100,000 people fleeing to  safety in Armenia, while in the months since, as humanitarian aid  reached the forcibly displaced population, a related calamity has  preoccupied the region's heritage observers: the abandonment of  centuries-old cultural landscapes, now endangered by Azerbaijan's  zero-tolerance for Armenian cultural remains. At CHW, we had been  preparing for this eventuality for months. During the blockade of  Nagorno-Karabakh (December 2022-September 2023), we worked to  geolocate the hundreds of additional cultural heritage sites that  would require monitoring if Azerbaijan gained control of what  remained of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). With  the collapse of the NKR in September 2023, we added an additional 181  sites into our monitoring routines. We also expanded our capacity  through new educational initiatives, training Cornell and Purdue  students committed to learning the skillsets of heritage forensics,"  Caucasus Heritage Watch reports.

"Since the end of the 2020 Second Karabakh War, Baku has been  signaling its plans for massive infrastructure and redevelopment  projects in Karabakh, along with its utopian vision for turning the  ethnically cleansed territories into a "green energy zone" with  extensive solar and wind energy farms. As reported in the  international press, such rapid development, including massive  highway construction projects, hydroelectric power plants, two  international airports (just 100 miles apart), and planned housing  developments, is wreaking havoc on the environment per the United  Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and threatening cultural  properties in the path of omnipresent earth movers.

This winter, barely two months after the last of the embattled  Armenians fled Azerbaijan's lightening attack on NKR in late  September, Baku was awarded the honor of hosting the 29th Session of  the Conference of Parties (COP29) to the UN Framework Convention on  Climate Change. As many international journalists and environmental  NGO's have expressed, Azerbaijan is the latest in a series of  authoritarian petro-states selected to host the event ostensibly  designed to showcase environmental initiatives to mitigate the harm  caused by global dependence on oil. The preparations for this event  may have a grave impact on the region's Armenian cultural heritage.

For the past year, as both Armenia and Azerbaijan were vying to host  COP29, and as Azerbaijani and Turkish construction firms were tearing  up and tunneling through the Karabakh landscape, the Aliyev  government was advancing the accusation through the British PR firm,  Portland Communications, that it was Armenians who had despoiled  Karabakh's natural heritage. President Aliyev has claimed that 50-  60,000 hectares of forest (roughly the area of the city of Chicago)  were eradicated under the NKR administration, a claim that Global  Forest Watch  handily refuted using satellite imagery. Such hyperbole  directed at global audiences recalled an earlier complaint to the UN  that Armenians in NKR had destroyed 65 out 67 mosques in Karabakh  under their stewardship (a claim CHW refuted in our special report,  Between the Wars). Of immediate consequence for the cultural heritage  of Nagorno-Karabakh is that COP29 has become an engine for  fast-tracking development projects that Azerbaijan will use to  'greenwash' its well-documented record of human rights,  environmental, and heritage abuses. Overall, our Spring 2024  monitoring cycle has revealed the greatest number of impacted sites  since Spring 2021 when we began monitoring cultural heritage  following the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. We are deeply concerned  that the total number of destroyed heritage sites rose by 75% between  our Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 missions, along with a 29% increase in  sites classified as threatened. Two regions of the former NKR  highlight these troubling developments.

First, in the Kalbajar district, on top of the threats already posed  by ongoing construction of the Kalbajar- Lachin Highway (see map pp.  15-16), CHW documented the impact of planned developments in and  around the village of Zar/Tsar. In our recently released story map  "'Wreckage upon wreckage' in Kalbajar" we report on the fate of two  unique schools built during the Soviet-era with fragments of medieval  "spolia," or building materials recycled from historic Armenian  monasteries, churches, and cemeteries. Both schools fell to  Azerbaijani bulldozers this spring, testimony to the continuing  cycles of hatred and destruction that have caused loss after loss to  the region's cultural heritage. In the same area, we are closely  watching two Armenian churches threatened by the new gridded housing  development on the outer edge of Zar village.  The pair of 13th  century churches are the only structures still standing among the  bulldozed ruins of the town, and we encourage international  contractors to comply with the December 2021 International Court of  Justice ruling that called on Azerbaijan to prevent and punish the  vandalism and destruction of Armenian cultural heritage.

Second, we continue to pay close attention to development activity in  Shusha, which this cycle has claimed two significant Armenian  heritage sites. In the most flagrant violation of the aforementioned  ICJ decision, the mid-19th century St. John the Baptist (S. Hovhannes  Mkrtich) Church, known locally as "Kanach Zham", was completely  leveled; CHW was able to narrow the destruction episode to between  December 28, 2023, and April 4, 2024. Within this same time frame,  the 18th-19th century Ghazanchetsots cemetery in Shusha was also  destroyed. Our December 2023 report (#6) noted the vulnerability of  this historic cemetery, which was already being used as a dumping  ground for construction refuse since last fall, and the eradication  of the site is now complete to make way for a planned housing  development. We noted at the time that without an international  response, the cemetery's destruction seemed inevitable, and it was.   Elsewhere, satellite monitoring is shedding light on the destruction  of modest sites - each relatively unremarkable on its own - but whose  elimination is part of the slow and steady work of cultural erasure;  a small historic cemetery near Garabulag (Khojaly district), or a  small sacred place once marked by 9th and 13th century khachkars  (carved cross stone) near Chartar (Khojavend district), now  bulldozed. Sometimes the work of cultural erasure consists of just  such banal, incremental destruction events - a few khachkars here, a  few tombstones there.

Finally, we should note that only one of the impacts documented in  this cycle are in the territories retaken by Azerbaijan in September.  But as Azerbaijan continues to turn Karabakh into a gold rush for  well- connected construction firms, CHW will remain vigilant in our  continued monitoring efforts in the region," they note. 

POST A COMMENT
Input digits     

News
I am supporting the idea of civic movement defying hypocrisy and  demanding truly peaceful COP29 - Luis Moreno OcampoI am supporting the idea of civic movement defying hypocrisy and demanding truly peaceful COP29 - Luis Moreno Ocampo
Historic decision as EU agreed to start visa liberalization dialogue,  EPF support for Armenia - Estonian FM Historic decision as EU agreed to start visa liberalization dialogue, EPF support for Armenia - Estonian FM
Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to make significant progress toward  finalizing peace agreement - U.S.  Department of StateArmenia and Azerbaijan continue to make significant progress toward finalizing peace agreement - U.S. Department of State
Ambassador of France: Registration for a French visa is individual  and freeAmbassador of France: Registration for a French visa is individual and free
Rosstat revealed the Rosstat revealed the "portrait" of migrants in Russia - Armenia accounts for 9% of visitors
Prime Minister of Georgia: Trump victory in the US presidential  elections can end war in Ukraine and stabilize the situation in the  South CaucasusPrime Minister of Georgia: Trump victory in the US presidential elections can end war in Ukraine and stabilize the situation in the South Caucasus
Ararat Mirzoyan participates in round table at the British  International Institute for Strategic Studies Ararat Mirzoyan participates in round table at the British International Institute for Strategic Studies
Armenian citizens are subjected to severe discrimination by the  Bulgarian border policeArmenian citizens are subjected to severe discrimination by the Bulgarian border police
Armenia wins 5 bronze medals at International Mathematics OlympiadArmenia wins 5 bronze medals at International Mathematics Olympiad
Papikyan thanks EU and its member states for the decision to support  Armenia Papikyan thanks EU and its member states for the decision to support Armenia
IDBank continues the IDBank continues the "By Your Side" Program
Representatives of Turkmenistan and ADNOC discussed the state and prospects of cooperation in the gas sectorRepresentatives of Turkmenistan and ADNOC discussed the state and prospects of cooperation in the gas sector
French Ambassador commented on liberalizaton talks with ArmeniaFrench Ambassador commented on liberalizaton talks with Armenia
Armenia`s Ambassador to Greece met with the Commander of the NATO Rapid Deployment Corps in  GreeceArmenia`s Ambassador to Greece met with the Commander of the NATO Rapid Deployment Corps in Greece
Pashinyan sends condolence message over death of the Secretary  General of the CVP Communist Party of VietnamPashinyan sends condolence message over death of the Secretary General of the CVP Communist Party of Vietnam
Earthquake in Georgia felt in Armenia Earthquake in Georgia felt in Armenia
Armenian premier`s office proposes joint mechanism to investigate  ceasefire violations on border to Baku Armenian premier`s office proposes joint mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations on border to Baku
Armenia`s premier congratulates Lithuanian counterpart Armenia`s premier congratulates Lithuanian counterpart
Declaration on Armenia`s independence must never be changed - expertDeclaration on Armenia`s independence must never be changed - expert
Yerevan welcomes decisions on liberalization of visa regime -  Armenian FMYerevan welcomes decisions on liberalization of visa regime - Armenian FM
Yerevan, Athens discuss initiatives to develop bilateral relationsYerevan, Athens discuss initiatives to develop bilateral relations
Yerevan reluctant to open brackets - opposition MP Yerevan reluctant to open brackets - opposition MP
Donald Trump will have to fight half of world after Biden leaves Donald Trump will have to fight half of world after Biden leaves
Azerbaijan invItes Armenia to COP29Azerbaijan invItes Armenia to COP29
"Eagle Partner 2024 exercise showcases ability to collaborate and operate in joint, high-intensity environment - U.S., European Command
CE Foreign Relations Council to consider results of dialogue on visa  liberalization with Armenia CE Foreign Relations Council to consider results of dialogue on visa liberalization with Armenia
2% of Georgian respodents consider Armenia principal friend 2% of Georgian respodents consider Armenia principal friend 
Armenia supports Cyprus on 50th anniversary of occupation of northern  CyprusArmenia supports Cyprus on 50th anniversary of occupation of northern  Cyprus
Meeting of the heads of transport departments of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan was heldMeeting of the heads of transport departments of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan was held
Retired Russian official makes revelations about secret meetings  before de-Armenianization of Artsakh Retired Russian official makes revelations about secret meetings  before de-Armenianization of Artsakh 
21-year-old karateka dies suddenly 21-year-old karateka dies suddenly 
Stepanakert mayor under administrative arrestStepanakert mayor under administrative arrest
Europe to accompany Armenia and Azerbaijan on their way to peace -  Olaf ScholzEurope to accompany Armenia and Azerbaijan on their way to peace -  Olaf Scholz
Armenia`s ministry of education reveals number of free vacancies in  vocational schoolsArmenia`s ministry of education reveals number of free vacancies in  vocational schools
Armenia`s Ministry of Defense reveals names of pilots killed in  Yak-52 crash  Armenia`s Ministry of Defense reveals names of pilots killed in  Yak-52 crash  
FMs` next 3+3 meeting to take place in Turkiye soon - Iranian  ambassador FMs` next 3+3 meeting to take place in Turkiye soon - Iranian  ambassador 
U.S forming powerful anti-Russian and anti-Iranian coalition in South  Caucasus - expert U.S forming powerful anti-Russian and anti-Iranian coalition in South  Caucasus - expert 
French ambassador to Armenia visits LoriFrench ambassador to Armenia visits Lori
Armenian premier holds meetings in London Armenian premier holds meetings in London 
Azerbaijani MFA responds to French president Azerbaijani MFA responds to French president 
It was Azerbaijan that unleashed 2020 war - Emmanuel Macron It was Azerbaijan that unleashed 2020 war - Emmanuel Macron 
Russian MP comments on employment of U.S. officer by Armenia`s  defense minister Russian MP comments on employment of U.S. officer by Armenia`s  defense minister 
Armenia`s MFA refutes Azerbaijani claim Armenia`s MFA refutes Azerbaijani claim 
Armenian premier reportedly refused meeting with Azerbaijani  president Armenian premier reportedly refused meeting with Azerbaijani  president 
Armenia`s high-tech industry minister, ICPC chairman discuss joint  research programmes between Armenian higher schools and ICPCArmenia`s high-tech industry minister, ICPC chairman discuss joint  research programmes between Armenian higher schools and ICPC
Armenia s government to allocate AMD 15.7mln to joint exhibition with  British MuseumArmenia s government to allocate AMD 15.7mln to joint exhibition with  British Museum
Azerbaijan arming itself actively - Armenian MPAzerbaijan arming itself actively - Armenian MP
Armenia`s CSTO membership is something only Armenian government can  decide  - U.S. Under-Secretary of State Armenia`s CSTO membership is something only Armenian government can  decide  - U.S. Under-Secretary of State 
U.S. is steadfast in reinforcing a sovereign, democratic, independent  Armenia U.S. is steadfast in reinforcing a sovereign, democratic, independent  Armenia 
Opening `Zangezur corridor` not on Moscow`s agenda - Sergei Kopyrkin Opening `Zangezur corridor` not on Moscow`s agenda - Sergei Kopyrkin 
Armenia`s new Constitution could be adopted not earlier than 2027Armenia`s new Constitution could be adopted not earlier than 2027
 European Council approves European Commission`s proposal for  negotiations on visa liberalization with Armenia European Council approves European Commission`s proposal for negotiations on visa liberalization with Armenia
Magdalena Grono to replace Toivo Klaar as Special Rep for South  CaucasusMagdalena Grono to replace Toivo Klaar as Special Rep for South  Caucasus
Armenia`s premier goes on working visit to UKArmenia`s premier goes on working visit to UK
Promoting protection of human rights and strengthening national  institutions project presented in Yerevan Promoting protection of human rights and strengthening national  institutions project presented in Yerevan 
Armenian FM, UNECE Executive Sec discuss cooperation Armenian FM, UNECE Executive Sec discuss cooperation 
Model projects of houses for forcibly displaced Nagorno-Karabakh  Armenians presented Model projects of houses for forcibly displaced Nagorno-Karabakh  Armenians presented 
Earthquake in Georgia felt in Armenia Earthquake in Georgia felt in Armenia 
Armenian vice-premier, U.S. Undersecretary of State discuss  cooperation in dealing with problems of forcibly displaced  Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians Armenian vice-premier, U.S. Undersecretary of State discuss  cooperation in dealing with problems of forcibly displaced  Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians 
EU has no official contact with Russia - Markus RitterEU has no official contact with Russia - Markus Ritter
Read more



Commented