YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Following reports that Armenian cemeteries in historic Jugha (presently Julfa) in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan are being vandalized–the National Council of Armenia’s of Nakhichevan convened a meeting on December 4 in Yerevan and called on President of Armenia Robert Kocharian–Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin II–the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia Aram I–the National Assembly and the Government of Armenia–as well as Diaspora organizations to raise their voice against the cultural genocide committed by Azerbaijan.
Catholicos Aram I immediately sent a letter to the president of UNESCO Koichi Matsuura stating that soon–the 2,000 of the 12,000 Khatchkars that used to exist on the grounds will be available only through photos–unless rapid action is taken.
The Council has also applied to UNESCO asking that an international commission be formed to examine the damaged historical monumen’s on location–as well as to ask that the Jugha cemetery be turned into an international historical and cultural neutral zone.
Citing the France-based "Land and Culture" (LCO) organization–the council revealed that a cemetery-church was recently destroyed; the event was witnessed by Iranian border guards on the other bank of the Arax River. The historic cemetery–located 10-km from Julfa (Iran) and across the northern bank of the Arax River–has three hills–each representing different eras from the Twelfth to Seventeenth centuries.
The destruction of the cemetery had began much earlier–but after alarm signals by LCO–the vandalism stopped in 1998. Azerbaijani authorities have now resumed their vandalism–however.
At the beginning of Twentieth century–the cemetery in which ancestors of former Nor Jugha Armenia’s were buried–had some 12,000 Khatchkars. Due to premeditated destruction by the Azeri Government– the cemetery now has less than 2000 Khachkars–most of them vandalized.