Last week, Hyperallergic.com published a groundbreaking forensic report trackingAzerbaijan’s recent destruction of Armenian cultural structures—89 medieval churches, 5,840 intricate cross-stones, and 22,000 tombstones—largely in Djulfa in Nakhichevan.
The report’s authors, Simon Maghakyan and Sarah Pickman, meticulously track the Azerbaijani government’s systematic campaign from 1997 to 2006 to rid the area of any Armenian structure or artifact in an effort to erase the area’s Armenian origin.
The report titled, “A Regime Conceals Its Erasure of Indigenous Armenian Culture,” introduces the reader to Armenia-based researcher, Argam Ayvazyan, who anticipated the destruction decades before it occurred.
“In 1965, after being taken to a police station for photographing a church near his birthplace, Ayvazyan received a warning from a visiting KGB chief, who treated the teenage offender to tea. In a recent interview with the authors, Ayvazyan recalled that Comrade Heydar Aliyev told him in Russian, ‘Never again do such things, there are no Armenian-Shmarmenian things here!’ Four years later, Comrade Aliyev would become Soviet Azerbaijan’s leader and then, in 1993, president of independent Azerbaijan,” write the authors of the Hyperallergic piece.
The article also delves into the 2005 march of the Azerbaijani army to Djulfa, where they destroyed Armenian cross-stones—Khatchcars—and were recorded by the then Prelate of Northern Iran, who was tipped off by the Iranian border guards who observed the military build-up from the border.
The authors also decry and discuss the lack of international reaction to the mass destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage sites, including UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, whose former leaders became allied with Azerbaijani government-run non-governmental organizations and groups.
Maghakyan is the founder of Djulfa.com, which chronicles the destruction of Armenian monuments in Nakhichevan. Founded in 2009, Hyperallergic, in an online “forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today,” as described on its website.