APPEAL of Members of the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan to the world heritage organizations

Members of the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan appealed to international cultural heritage organizations in connection with the deplorable condition of architectural monuments in the liberated territories of Nagorno-Karabakh of the Republic of Azerbaijan: World Monuments Fund; OWHC: The Organization of World Heritage Cities; United Heritage; United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites; International Council on Monuments and Sites; UNESCO; Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB); University of Minnesota Center for World Heritage; Yangon Heritage Trust; Association for Heritage Interpretation.

 

APPEAL

of Members of the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan

to the world heritage organizations

 

The international community is well aware of the history and the nature of the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started in 1992, and on its implications. The emergence of the conflict is related to the territorial claims raised by Armenia against Azerbaijan. As a matter of fact, Armenia aimed to take advantage of the conflict and occupied 20% of Azerbaijan territories, including Nagorno Karabakh as well as the Lachin, Qubadli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Fuzuli, Agdam and Kalbajar districts.

Resolutions of the UN Security Council N 822, 853, 874, 884 condemn the Armenian aggression and demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the Azerbaijani territories and return of refugees to their homes, however, Armenia ignores the efforts and calls of the UN in this area. As a result of the Armenian occupation, 102,757 exhibits belonging to 23 museums of Azerbaijan, 376 paintings belonging to 4 State Art Galleries, 4.6 million books belonging to 927 libraries, 13 archives, 260,000 archived documents, 5,300 architectural monuments, including 2,261 archaeological monuments, 64 garden-park monumental and memorial monuments, historical and cultural heritage items kept in 50,000 private collections were vandalised, destroyed or misappropriated and brought out from the country as a result of the armed aggression of the Republic of Armenia. In addition, 365 clubs, 761 libraries, 193 houses of culture, 310 temples, 72 mosques, 199 burial mounds, 161 ancient cemeteries, 184 ancient settlements, 165 places of worship and shrines, 39 tombs were destroyed by the Armenian occupants.

The consequences of the expansionist policy of Armenia against Azerbaijan are not limited only to the occupied territories. The aggression is large-scale and multi-directional. The aggression is accompanied by either the destruction or Armenization of national and cultural property in the territories occupied by Armenia. For instance, the Azykh Cave near the Fuzuli city dated back to 700 thousand years, which is considered to be one of the earliest human settlements in Europe, is a unique cultural property of the world. For some time, Armenian aggressors used the cave to store the ammunition, then it was used as a shooting ground for soldiers, and afterwards, they involved international experts to carry out illegal archaeological excavations there and undertake provocative actions aiming to misappropriate this ancient property belonging to Azerbaijan and to appropriate not only the area, but also the history.

Current treatment of Azerbaijan's historical monuments clearly demonstrates Armenian vandalism. Armenians have destroyed or caused harm to hundreds of historical - religious and cultural monuments in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. The deliberate destruction of dozens of burial mounds, human settlements, cemeteries, sacred places, Muslim religious monuments and other archaeological monuments by the Armenian occupants dealt a serious blow to the history and culture of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's cultural heritage is an integral part of human culture, therefore, the protection and preservation of historical and cultural monuments bearing evidence to the centuries-old history of our people in the territory of our country is a problem of international importance.

In this regard, the destruction and deliberate damage of cultural and historical monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan contradicts the  Hague Convention "On the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict" (1954), the  European Convention "On Protection of the Archaeological Heritage" (1992), UNESCO Convention "On Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage" (1972).

At the same time, according to the provisions of the 1970 Paris Convention on Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Property, actions against cultural property and cultural heritage during armed conflicts are considered a war crime under international criminal law.

In gross violation of these internationally accepted norms, Armenia for 30 years inflicted devastating blows on the historical architectural heritage in the occupied territories, destroyed Islamic monuments, falsified Christian Albanian monuments, tried to "restore" and Armenianize them, conducted illegal archaeological excavations in Azerbaijan, and artifacts collected in Karabakh museums were stolen and taken to Armenia.

Different religions existing in Azerbaijan at various times have also had a great impact on the social life of the human communities in Nagorno-Karabakh. As in all regions of Azerbaijan, in Karabakh, the concurrent development of Christianity and Islam, as well as their interaction, has been reflected in the construction of the Azerbaijan architectural monuments. This, in turn, clearly demonstrates how deep are the roots of the traditions of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. Armenian vandalism against the cultural heritage arouses profound indignation.

As a result of the Armenian aggression and occupation, Azerbaijan has suffered concrete material and moral damage, and Armenia, as an aggressor state, bears the responsibility for this damage to Azerbaijan.

Thus, the events of 30 years show that Armenia has been violating all international agreements and committed aggression against the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. Today's deplorable images of the liberated villages and cities once again show how much damage has been done to our country and demonstrate the vandalism of the Armenians. We condemn the untrue appeals of a group of people under the influence of the Armenian lobby to international organizations about the alleged "aggression" by turning a blind eye to the real acts of aggression and vandalism, we declare that they are aimed not at protecting the cultural heritage but at tarnishing the image of Azerbaijan and doing harm to its right cause. We draw the attention of international organizations to this issue for the investigation and legal assessment of illegal actions of Armenia.

 

On behalf of the members of the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan,

Elbay Gasim-zada

Chairman of the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan

Honored Architect

Member of the INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ARCHITECTS Council

 

 

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