ANCA Calls on Amb. Morningstar to Reject Baku’s Ban on Djulfa Cemetery

Urges U.S. Ambassador to Keep Pressing for Visit to Desecrated Christian Armenian Religious Site

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on U.S. Ambassador to Baku Richard Morningstar to honor his commitment to the U.S. Senate to secure access to the site, in Djulfa, Nakhichevan, of the Azerbaijani government’s 2005 video-taped destruction of a medieval Armenian cemetery, which houses thousands of intricately carved Armenian stone-crosses (khatchkars).

Graphic by Simon Maghakyan

In a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Baku on Nov. 5, Morningstar said that when he was recently in Nakhchivan, he “discussed at length with local authorities one such site in Djulfa, 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.” The full text is available at

“Ambassador Morningstar cannot take no for an answer,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “He can either keep knocking on Ilham Aliyev’s door until this baseless ban is lifted, or simply travel to the site of the Djulfa cemetery on his own. Either way, it’s clear that, as Americans, we should neither sell arms to an Azerbaijani military that destroys cemeteries, nor send any aid to a government in Baku that blocks U.S. ambassadors from visiting sites of peace-time cultural desecration.”

In response to questions by Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) during his confirmation hearing in June 2012, Morningstar had committed to “make every effort to visit the cemetery and that any kind of desecration such as that is unacceptable, outrageous, and I will do my best to get there, and soon.” He also said he would “amplify our concerns to the government of Azerbaijan and stress the need to respect and safeguard Armenian religious and cultural sites in Azerbaijan.”

In his recent statement regarding Djulfa, Morningstar spoke of Azerbaijan’s “diverse cultural heritage,” while remaining silent on the virulently anti-Armenia policies of the Aliyev government, including its escalating pattern of fatal cross-border attacks, and its recent pardon and promotion of Ramil Safarov, who axed to death an Armenian in his sleep during a 2004 NATO-sponsored peace training program in Hungary.

For more information about the history of the Djulfa Armenian cemetery and its destruction, during peace-time, by uniformed soldiers, acting under orders, visit

For a timeline on the international response to the Djulfa Cemetery destruction and Azerbaijan’s obstruction of an investigation, visit


  1. Every time I think about this, it makes by blood boil. This is is so vile, so low and so wicked, in my opinion no amount of money these imbecile Azeris can pay would make up for this. The only thing that would satisfy me is my witnessing of Azerbaijan’s complete and utter destruction.

  2. When you have no culture of your own you will never appreciate and treasure other people’s culture. This applies not only to Axeris but also their Turkish brothers who vandalized and destroyed Armenian and Greek magnificent cultural sites in their patch-country.

  3. Hagop, you are upset that Azeris’ destroyed an ancient Armenian cemetry in Julfa. Ok, fine. Now you know how we Azeris feel about the destruction of our cemetries in Lachin, Kelbecer, Gubadli, Cebrayil, Zengilan, Agdam, Susha, Askeran, etc, etc — the Azeri states adjacent to Karabak proper, which even Armenian government in Karabak and Armenia do no consider part of their territorial claims. These are “buffer” zones. And these cemeteries are not “arguably” centuries old, but mere 20 years old.

    So, I can completely relate to your feelings about desiring our utter destruction. I can relate, because every single Azeri feels the same way towards Armenia. With such mutual hatred, I am sure a new war will sooner or later break out. You should pray to God that Russia and Iran are still on your side when it happens, although … When (not if) Israel attacks Iran and US is drawn into the conflict, the entire chess board stretching into Caucasus will be re-set. Who know if Russia will be a viable player in Caucasus any more after the dust settles. Who knows.

    • Kerim,

      Do you know that once not so long ago (up until around less than 100 years ago) in history Nakhijevan was 98% Armenain.
      When Nakhijevan’s control was given to Azerbaijan by Russians Azeri control gradually drove Armenians out of there. Armenians who live in Asia minor up to the caucases thousands of years before Turkic arrival.

      Your cemetaries maybe true or maybe just propaganda, but they sure werent as ancient as ours that Azeris never respected.

      During the soviet period, even within Karabakh region and probabely other regions in Azerbaijan and Nakhijevan Azeris used the sones from our Churches and cross stones to built schools rather than preserve them.

      Recent destruction of the midevel cemetary in Nakhijevan was finishing up the vandalism and ignorance.

      Believe it or not or accept it or not the Armenian history is part of Azeribaijan’s land history. I question why Azeris don’t want to uphold the truth. Knowing part of the truth is in Aliev’s long rulling anti-Armenian campaign that probabely started from his father.

      The history of both Azeribaijan, and Armenia is interlinked with Russia since end of WWI. Even today we are not the only ones dependant on Russia.

  4. Kerim:

    1. {“. Now you know how we Azeris feel about the destruction of our cemetries in Lachin, Kelbecer, Gubadli, Cebrayil, Zengilan, Agdam, Susha, Askeran, etc, etc”}

    Show us proof – from independent sources.
    Don’t manufacture lies like you did before: you remember the one about claiming you were in Baku and there was no massacre of Armenians in 1990 ?

    The destruction of Armenian Khachkars was documented by an independent source:

    show us similar evidence from non-fake, non-Axeri sources, then we’ll talk.

    2. {“You should pray to God that Russia and Iran are still on your side when it happens, although …”}
    Axeris still cannot comprehend that a population of about 150,000 Armenians of Artsakh massively defeated a country with a population of 7 million (during the war).
    Having grown up with tall tales that gyavur Armenians run as soon as Turkic askyars show up, the Axeri leadership keeps trying to convince their gullible population that Armenians won because of massive Russian and Iranian help. I guess that is why they consider someone who murders a sleeping man with an ax a national hero.
    Fact is Russia, or more accurately Soviet Union, was actually helping Axerbaijan in the beginning of the war. During the war, Soviets were helping both sides equally: selling the same weapons to both sides. Only towards 1993/1994 when Armenians turned the tide and started rolling the Axeri invaders, Russians decided to side with the winners. Even in 1994, Russians saved your hide: NKR tank columns had assembled to push all the way to the Kura River. Heydar Aliyev begged his KGB buddies in Moscow to stop the Armenians: Moscow did.

    And Iranians did not help Armenians militarily: only heating oil, foodstuffs, and general goods. Thank you Iranian/Persian cousins.

    3. {“Who know if Russia will be a viable player in Caucasus any more after the dust settles. Who knows.”}
    Right: Russia is going to allow US or Israel to establish a base in Axerbaijan. Same as in Georgia.
    US and Israel had poured US$ billions into Georgia. Stupid delusional Saakashvili listened to Bush & Cheney and decided to attack the Bear.
    When the Bear growled, NATO trained Georgian troops ran all the way back to Tbilisi.
    Russian tank columns could have cut Georgia in half, but decided it was enough after 5 days of mauling the toy soldiers. .

    If Sultan Aliyev makes the same stupid mistake of messing with the Bear, Axeristan will be cut into many little pieces.
    There are lots of minorities in Azerbaijan: all they need is Russia’s help to declare independence.

    Neither US nor Israel is going to risk nuclear war with Russia to save a gas station by the fake name of Azerbaijan.
    There are lots of other gas stations in the world.

  5. Avery, here are a couple of points:

    1) Using such insulting terms as Axeris proves your caliber as a person incapable of maintaining an objective and respectful frame of mind. It is childish to descend into name-calling simply because you disagree with the other side. I can disagree with you while maintaining respect towards Armenians as a nation. You seem to be incapable of doing so, and are boiling with hatred and bigotry.

    2) I did not deny that Julfa cemetery was destroyed. So your reading comprehension skills (yet again) shows deficiency. By the way, can you blame us? You guys claim that any place that has any traces of Armenian traces is an Ancient Armenian land, and you resort to arms to take it over.

    3) And here is a link from the Minsk group talking about the destruction of Azeri occupied territories, including cemeteries. But did you really need a report to know what happens to territories completely destroyed by war. Not only cemeteries, but literally everything is destroyed in these lands. So I am not sure what you are trying to deny … that these lands have been razed to the ground, with or without cemeteries? Are you allowing any Azeris to visit their family graves in Lachin? Are Azeris preventing Armenians from visiting their cemeteries ? At most, you can cite one or two villages, compared to 7 Azeri states! How many states of Armenia has Azerbaijan taken over, where the living relatives cannot visit their cemeteries?

    3) On Russia .. Again, you seem to be reading what you want to read. I did not say Russia is going to be waged a direct war against by US/Israel over Azerbaijan. What is likely to happen is this: Russia will be cut off from having an influential rule. And remember, Russia has done this before … retreating and leaving their Armenians allies to fend for themselves (i.e., 1915). And here is how it COULD play out, and again (to make sure your poor reading comprehension skills do not lead you astray), I am not saying this is what WILL happen. But the possibility is there, which is why I said ‘who knows if Russia will still be there as a major player in Caucasus, which would be a disastrous outcome for Armenia). So here is a possible scenario. Israel attacks Iran; US is inevitably drawn in; it becomes a protracted conflict, US/Israel uses Azeri Iranians (about 16 million of them) to destabilize Iran, with a promise of unification with Azeri Republic); Azeri territory is also used to support the war against Iran; Azeris are promised SOMETHING in exchange; taking advantage of the upheaval, Azeris make a move to retake our land; Russia tries to reassert itself but is denied access to the action scene by the Georgians, over which Azeris have a huge leverage because of oil and overall strategic alliance; Russia is given a strong signal to stay away from the Azeri theatre, not because the West loves us, but because Russians doing would interfere with their war against Iran; Russia does not risk entering a major conflict over a tiny Armenia and strategically retreats hoping for a later return; Azerbaijan destroys Armenian armies, helped with Turkey; when the dust settles Azerbaijan, unified with the South Azerbaijan, is a country with over 25 million population, compared to a barely 2 million Armenians — you do the math.

    Don’t be tempted to call this scenario far-fetched. Consider just these two facts … Azerbaijan would never endanger its existence by entering the fray over Iran, UNLESS it is promised something back (i.e., Karabak), because we would essentially betting the whole house on this deal. Second, Russia has amassed troops in North Caucaus, expected some crazy scenario like the above. The thing is, they would have to come through Georgia, which will never happen without a war with Georgia, or they can come through Azerbaijan, which will never happen without a war with a NATO member Turkey. All for what? To protect a poor tiny country like Armenia? And iis not just me who is thinking up such unpredictable scenarios. International crisis group, and almost all experts warn that the Karabak conflict needs to be resolved soon because it can easily escalate (with or without Iran) into a major regional war. So given all this, Armenians would be well advised to measure their OWN strength. There was a gross overestimation of Russia’s reliability in 1915, and unfortunately many Armenians perished in the aftermath.

  6. “Russia has done this before … retreating and leaving their Armenians allies to fend for themselves (i.e., 1915) […] There was a gross overestimation of Russia’s reliability in 1915, and unfortunately many Armenians perished in the aftermath.”

    You’re twisting the historical facts, Kerim.

    Armenians were not ‘allies’ with Russians back in 1915 in the true sense of the word. For instance, the Ottoman empire was an ally of Germany. This said, did Armenians hope that Russians would advance deeper into Eastern Turkey so they could at last throw off the loathed Ottoman shackles? Yes, having seen the horrors of Hamidian and Adana massacres, they did. However, it’ll be infantile to say that the Russians were not advancing to free Western Armenia. Russia and Turkey were on the opposite sides of the WWI fronts, and Russians, naturally, aspired to use ethnic unrest as a means to weaken their enemy. Russian aspirations, however, were not indicative of the fact that they entered into an ‘alliance’ with any ethnic minority in the Ottoman empire. May I remind you that as much as they occasionally gave ammunition to one or two Armenian revolutionary groups, they also did so to the Assyrians, and, guess what, to the Muslim Kurds who were pillaging and marauding the Armenian villages. Quite an alliance, I guess! But you wouldn’t call either the Assyrians or the Kurds ‘allies’ of Russia, would you? You’re just parroting the Turkish propaganda that tends to somehow justify the barbaric slaughter of the Armenians because Armenians were ‘allies’ to the Russians.

    Further, Russians did not ‘retreat and leave the Armenians to fend themselves’. Russian armies stationed in the Caucasus were needed at the time in the Western front more than they were needed in the Caucasus front. That is why they had to change dislocation. With a passage of time, the Bolshevik turmoil, the February and October revolutions in 1917, and the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty caused the Russians to withdraw from the Caucasus only to return there in 1920 under the red banners. Your mentality seems to be limited to favoritist or race politics factors only (Russia-Armenia/Turkey-Azerbaijan, etc). When you’ll attempt to look more thoroughly at the events, you’ll understand that the so-called ‘Russian-Armenian alliance’ or ‘Armenians’ overestimation of Russian reliability’ are cheap Turkic myths. In reality, by 1915 Armenians have given hopes that Russians would advance and organized a few self-defense resistances, such as in Van.

    Lastly, Armenians did not ‘unfortunately perish’ after the Russians withdrew. Armenians were savagely exterminated en masse in a genocidal act, when Turks realized that no one would stop them from salvaging as many lands as possible for the disintegrating Ottoman empire. By their historical presence in Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) Armenians posed an obstacle for the staged Turkification policies of the Young Turk government. Here, again, your mind works mostly within the confines of a narrow race politics, disregarding the broader picture.

    How many non-Armenian and non-TurkoAzeri books have you read on the subject?

    • Correction. “However, it’ll be infantile to say that the Russians were not advancing to free Western Armenia” should read: “However, it’ll be infantile to say that the Russians were advancing to free Western Armenia.”

  7. Gourgen, I see what you are saying. I am not saying that your post completely changed my mind about Russia’s role in 1915. To be frank with you, I am not very familiary with the Turkish-Armenian history of that time period. It seems that you are. So I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

    What I would continue to say thoug is this. Yes, Armenians may not have relied too much on Russian in 1915. But I venture that Armenians are relying too much on Russia right now. And they shouldn’t. No nation should ever relay on an external power (whether it be Russia or Armenian-friendly US Congressmen) for their security. Whether Armenia likes it or not, it is stuck with its neigbors of Turkey and Azerbaijan. And it better find a way to co-exist peacefully with them. Forget about Azerbaijan. Turkey is just too strong of an enemy to constantly aggrevate (regardless of whether or not you have justified historical grounds for grievance).

    • Kerim, I see what you’re saying and I’d hypothetically agree that ‘no nation should ever rely on an external power’. If Armenia was geographically positioned where Switzerland now is, I’d fully accept your point. But Armenia is where it is, and one of her four neighbors is a genocide-perpetrator and denialist and the other is murderer and war-mongerer. In Realpolitik, nonetheless, it is not unusual to find allies to strengthen national security. Armenia is not an exception. If you think AzerBEYjan is not relying on Western oil companies for its national security and defense concerns, you’re gravely mistaken. By the way, how does AzerBEYjan’s permission for the Russian Gabala radar station go with you argument that ‘no nation should rely on an external power’? Then don’t rely, kick the Russians out!

      You say: ‘whether Armenia likes it or not, it is stuck with Turkey and Azerbaijan and it better find a way to co-exist peacefully with them.’ Can you present a single fact when Armenia didn’t want to co-exist peacefully with the both? When the Republic became independent and wished to maintain peaceful relations with Turkey, was it not Ankara that closed borders, imposed a blockade, and denied establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia? When Armenians of Artsakh appealed for the constitutional transfer of the region from one republic to the other, was it not peaceful? I bet, by suggesting that Armenians establish a ‘peaceful co-existence’ you mean ‘submissive co-existence’. Should any nation ever be submissive to the other?

      Re: Turkey. Armenians don’t ‘aggravate’ it. Armenians express their righteous indignation with the fact that Turkey denies the guilt of their Ottoman predecessors while the world increasingly admits their mass murders as genocide. Armenians have much more reasons to be aggravated by the Turks, because they annihilated 2 million innocent people and stole two-thirds of our ancestral lands. Only because Turkey is considered a strong enemy, we should forget the Turkish crime? Is this what you’re suggesting? Then forget about Khojaly, why won’t you? Armenia has proven to be a stronger enemy compared to AzerBEYjan, hasn’t it?

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