OTTAWA, Canada—The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) announced on Dec. 8 that it is marking the 11th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s destruction of the historic Armenian cemetery of Julfa by calling on the Canadian government to hold Azerbaijan accountable for the systematic destruction of Armenian historical, cultural and religious sites and monuments.
On Dec. 10, 2005, the government of Azerbaijan began the final demolition of the historic Armenian cemetery in Julfa, an ancient Armenian city now located in Azerbaijan. This marked the final blow to the 10,000 intricately hand carved Khachkars (cross-stones) which were erected between the 6th through the 17th centuries. Khachkars are a uniquely Armenian form of stone carving which the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized as being both culturally and religiously significant to the Armenian people and constituting part of humanity’s shared intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.
By Dec. 15, 2005, the final destruction was complete. Approximately 200 Azerbaijani soldiers gathered at the Nakhichevan-Iran border to desecrate the remaining grave markers at the Julfa Armenian cemetery. The cemetery has since been replaced with an Azerbaijani military training base.
Despite clear evidence and condemnation by international bodies such as the European Parliament and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Azerbaijani authorities continue to deny this crime, while still promoting the destruction of all Armenian religious and cultural sites in the country.
“The Armenian monuments represent unique architectural value and the international community should be aware of the policy of their destruction that can only be defined as cultural genocide,” Shahen Mirakian, President of the ANCC said.
Mirakian called upon the Canadian government to exert the necessary pressure on the Azerbaijani government to end this campaign. “The annihilation of the civilization of a people is incompatible with any country aspiring to become an honest broker for peace, justice, and equality around the world. Azerbaijan cannot be regarded as such, until it faces its own history and respects the rights and freedoms of other nations,” said Mirakian.