Armenian Assembly of America Recalls the Destruction of Christian Armenian Cemetery, Monuments by Azerbaijan

Armenian Assembly of America Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) recalls the complete destruction of the Christian Armenian cemetery and related monuments in the historic Armenian city of Julfa (aka Djulfa), Nakhichevan in present-day Azerbaijan 10 years ago. The Ilham Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan is fully responsible but has escaped any accountability.

In 1998, UNESCO called on the Azerbaijani authorities to stop the demolition process, however, the Aliyev regime resumed the destruction in 2002.

Three years later, on December 10, 2005, Azerbaijan’s military completed destroying the remaining ancient cemetery with sledgehammers, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment. The cemetery originally consisted of 10,000 intricately designed Armenian stone crosses or “khach-kars,” an example of which is on display at the Unite Nations headquarters in New York. Azerbaijan’s military razed the site and put in its place an open-air shooting range for military use.

Details of the destruction were videotaped, showing clearly that Azerbaijani military personnel were responsible for the destruction of this historic site. Following a worldwide outcry, in February 2006, the European Parliament voted 85-5, adopting a resolution condemning the Azerbaijani government’s destruction of the Armenian cemetery in Julfa. The resolution also called on Azerbaijan to allow a delegation of European Parliament Members to visit the archaeological site at Julfa. In March 2006, the Aliyev regime banned the European delegation from visiting the historic site. That ban remains in place as officials from the United States, Europe, and other countries have not been allowed to visit the site for over a decade.

Details of the destruction were videotaped, showing clearly that Azerbaijani military personnel were responsible for the destruction of this historic site. Following a worldwide outcry, in February 2006, the European Parliament voted 85-5, adopting a resolution condemning the Azerbaijani government’s destruction of the Armenian cemetery in Julfa. The resolution also called on Azerbaijan to allow a delegation of European Parliament Members to visit the archaeological site at Julfa. In March 2006, the Aliyev regime banned the European delegation from visiting the historic site. That ban remains in place as officials from the United States, Europe, and other countries have not been allowed to visit the site for over a decade.

In July 2007, the Armenian Assembly submitted testimony regarding the willful destruction of the Julfa Armenian cemetery before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, in a hearing entitled: “Ideals vs. Reality in Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy: The Cases of Azerbaijan, Cuba, and Egypt.”

On December 8, 2010, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reported that Azerbaijani authorities have completed a decades-long campaign to remove traces of the ancient Armenian presence in the South Caucasus, dating back thousands of years. Using advanced satellite imagery, the AAAS confirmed Azerbaijan’s state-sponsored eradication of the landmarks of Armenian civilization in Nakhichevan.

“The parallels between Aliyev’s destruction of Christian monuments and what the Taliban and ISIS are doing is undeniable, but the difference in reactions is striking,” stated Armenian Assembly of America Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian. “The difference can only be explained by the Aliyev regime and the Turkish government paying influence peddlers to cover up such crimes, and that cover up needs to stop,” they said.

A record of Azerbaijan’s destruction of Julfa and the Armenian Assembly of America’s actions are available on the Assembly’s website under the “Issues Center” tab entitled “Old Julfa Armenian Cemetery Destruction.”

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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