“What was that if not fascism?” Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan said of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev’s recent visit to occupied Hadrut, where he ordered the removal of Armenian medieval inscriptions from churches and other monuments.
Tatoyan added that Aliyev’s actions were nothing but “ethnic-religious based hatred at the highest levels of government and proof of Baku’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Artsakh.”
Aliyev made the remarks when visiting the 12th century St. Mary’s Armenian Church in the village of Tsakuri, in the Hadrut region of Artsakh.
“This is an Albanian church. The Armenians tried to Armenianize this church, they wrote inscriptions in Armenian here, but they did not succeed. This is our ancient temple, the temple of our oudi brothers, they too will come here. Just as our mosques were desecrated, so were the ancient Albanian temples desecrated by the Armenians. But we will restore, all these writings are fake. These inscriptions were added later. They have created a false story for themselves. Meanwhile, they did not succeed. (…) Is a Turkish mosque. They falsified everything and turned it into a garbage dump. Look at what they’ve done to place, and then they say it is Armenian,” Aliyev said according to a translation provided by Tatoyan.
The 12th century St. Mary’s (Surp Asdavdzadzin) church in Tsakuri village is the former monastery complex of the village Tsaghkavank, where the church has been preserved, explained Tatoryan, adding that according to the khachkars—stone crosses—the church dates back to 1198 and differs by its round door. The church is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and culture of Artsakh.
“A few days ago, it was confirmed that the church of St. John the Baptist, popularly known as Kanach Dzham (Green Hour) in the Azerbaijani-controlled town of Shushi, had been destroyed. The church was destroyed not during the war, not during the armed attacks, but afterward,” said Tatoyan who has prepared a report about the destruction of the church, as well as Aliyev’s comments. He said he plans to dispatch the report to relevant international bodies.
“But we especially note that for years in Azerbaijan hatred and enmity toward Armenians has been sown in this way at the highest state level, and it is not only hatred based on ethnicity, but it is also religious hatred,” said Tatoyan.
“The facts published in the report clearly prove that during the September to November war in Artsakh, the Azerbaijani authorities carried out ethnic cleansing and a policy of genocide,” stressed Tatoyan emphasizing that the same policy continues “to this day.”
“These same statements and words by the President of Azerbaijan inspired the Azerbaijani soldiers to torture and behead, dismember bodies and commit other atrocities against Armenian servicemen and civilians in the April 2016 War and during the September to November 2020 war,” said Tatoyan.