Ararat Alliance compares Azerbaijan’s actions in Nagorno-Karabakh to the Taliban, citing the forced displacement of over 100,000 ethnic Armenians, desecration of churches, and defiance of the European Parliament and the International Court
YEREVAN, ARMENIA, February 12, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ — Following the European Parliament’s resolution (www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2023-0356_EN.html) condemning as ethnic cleansing the forced displacement of over 100,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, MEP Kaljurand expressed disappointment in Azerbaijan’s behavior (www.opendemocracy.net/en/eu-armenia-refugee-war-azerbaijan-gas-energy-russia-security-rights), leading to calls for a review of the EU-Baku gas agreement. The resolution also called for sanctions against Azerbaijani officials for human rights abuses.
Despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling of November 17, 2023 demanding a safe return for displaced Armenians (www.icj-cij.org/node/203314) none have returned due to fear of reprisals.
In addition to ethnically cleansing the Caucasus enclave of its Armenian population, which had resided there for almost two millennia, Azerbaijan plans to change the identity of the ancient Armenian churches in Nagorno-Karabakh. There are more than 500 ancient Armenian Christian architectural monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh (www.museumofthebible.org/location/ancient-faith-the-churches-of-nagorno-karabakh).
In 2020, a significant portion of Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of Azerbaijan, and reports of Armenian churches being vandalized started to draw international attention.
The International Court of Justice has ruled on 07 December, 2021(www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/180/180-20211207-PRE-01-00-EN.pdf) that Azerbaijan must “take all necessary measures to prevent and punish acts of vandalism and desecration affecting Armenian cultural heritage, including but not limited to churches and other places of worship, monuments, landmarks, cemeteries and artefacts.”
However, after the ethnic cleansing in September 2023, the rest of Christian monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of Azerbaijan and Baku created a working group for “restoration of Albanian religious temples” called to change the identity of the Armenian religious, historical and cultural monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pope Francis called on 15.10.2023 (www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-10/pope-calls-attention-to-humanitarian-crisis-in-nagorno-karabakh.html) for the protection and respect of monasteries and places of religious worship in Nagorno-Karabakh. “My concern about the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh has not abated”, stated the Pope. “In addition to the dire humanitarian situation of refugees, I would like to make a special appeal for the protection of monasteries and places of worship in this region”.
The Ararat Alliance Forum has petitioned UNESCO’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay (www.governmentprnews.com/government_articles/2024/02/azerbaijan-defies-the-internationl-court-of-justice-popes-plea-vandalizes-churches-of-nagornokarabakh-508350.htm), to send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and include its historical Christian monuments in the World Heritage List. They point out that Azerbaijan’s actions constitute state vandalism, likening them to the actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the crimes committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
On January 8, 2024, the US State Department added Azerbaijan to the US List of Religious Freedom Offenders, citing mistreatment of Christians, Muslims, and displaced ethnic Armenians (https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2024/january/azerbaijan-religious-freedom-watch-list-cpc-uscirf-artsakh.html.)
THE ARARAT ALLIANCE FORUM (https://araratalliance.am/en) is an Armenian NGO conducting historical, economic, strategic and cultural studies to help advance democratic development and strengthen national security of Armenia. The First Ararat Alliance Forum was held in June 2022 in Yerevan.
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