YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A recent Azeri state-sanctioned campaign to destroy and ruin Armenian khatchkars and graves in the Julfa region of Nakhichevan–has garnered international attention with Armenia’s Culture Ministry and His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenian stepping in to end the destruction of Armenian monumen’s at the hands of Azeris.
Disturbing eyewitness accounts emanated from Northern Iran–regarding desecration of the Armenian Khatchkars in the Nakhichevan region of the former Soviet Union. This has appeals to UNESCO by Armenia foreign ministry officials and Catholicos Karekin I.
A group of visitors to the St. Stephen’s Armenian Church in Tabriz bordering the Arax River and Nakhichevan reported witnessing desecration of Armenian graves and khatchars in the Julfa region of Nakhichevan.
The eyewitnesses–who photographed and documented the vandalism said that the demolished Khatchkars were carried away on a flatbed train–while another group leveled the ground. The group was told that this operation had been taking place for a week.
One of the eyewitnesses to the destruction–Arpiar Petrossian–a member of the Research into Armenian Architecture organization dispatched an appeal to the RAA chairman Armen Hakhnazarian–who alerted the monument preservation administration at Armenia’s Ministry of Culture. The appeal included photographs and the eyewitness accounts of the desecration.
The monument preservation board chairman Gagik Gurjian told Noyan Tapan that the ministry’s office had alerted President Robert Kocharian to take the necessary steps in halting further desecration. The preservation board also met with Etchmiadzin Catholicosate Vicar General Archbishop Karekin Nercissian–who pledged that he would address the matter with Islamic religious leader of the Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The RAA has also appealed to the UNESCO representative at Armenia’s foreign ministry–who has taken the dossier to Paris–in order to garner international support on the matter.
Hakhnazarian expressed his anger–saying that while the government of Iran was spending national funds to renovate Armenian monumen’s in that country–its neighbor was organizing a "cultural genocide."
In his appeal to UNESCO Executive Director Federico Mayor–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s has expressed his anger regarding the Azeri authorities campaign to destroy Armenian monumen’s.
The Catholicos called on Mayor to do his utmost to prevent the desecration of Armenian historical and religious monumen’s–while thanking UNESCO for its efforts to preserve the Armenian monastery in Cyprus and the Armenian Church in Baku from falling prey to Turkish and Azeri destruction.
"On behalf of Armenian both in Armenia and the Diaspora–I appeal to you to undertake immediate measures to end the vandalism–which can be deemed as a gross violation human rights and desecration of holy monumen’s which have served as a site for prayer and pilgrimage," stated the Catholicos in his letter.
"We are deeply angered that such violation are taking place overtly–as the world stands idly indifferent," stressed the Catholicos–who also dispatched an appeal to World Council of Churches president Conrad Raiser.