Visit to Nakhichevan Shows Why Armenians Can Never Again Live Under Azeri Rule

Harut Sassounian


Scottish researcher Steven Sim reported about his troubling experiences in Nakhichevan, a historic Armenian territory now occupied by Azerbaijan. Since Sim’s 2006 revealing report has not been adequately publicized in the international media, I would like to present here some of its highlights.

Sim stated that he entered Nakhichevan by land from Turkey and traveled to the village of Abrakunis at Yernjak valley. When he asked a 12-year-old about an ancient church there, the boy pointed to an empty piece of land.

Sim next visited Bananiyar, known to Armenians as Aparank, where he reported that “at least until the 1970s there were some ruins of a large medieval church located on high ground in the middle of the village. Now a mosque is built on the former church grounds.” At Norashen, two Armenian churches and a graveyard had existed at the north-western edge of this village. He found no trace of either churches or the graveyard.

On his 3rd day in Nakhichivan, while traveling by train to Julfa, Sim observed the remains of the Jugha graveyard. He reported seeing “a hillside covered by stone slabs, spread out over three ridges. All of the gravestones had been toppled, without any exceptions.”

In Ordubad, Sim was taken to the police station where his bag was searched, as he was interrogated about the purpose of his visit. He was then placed on the next bus back to Nakhichevan city. From there he went to Shurut which used to be “a small Armenian town during the late medieval period, with churches, schools, monasteries, scriptoria and several tens of thousands of inhabitants.”

At the neighboring Krna village, there were no traces of the local Armenian Church. The same was true about the village of Gah. When he asked a passerby about the church in Shurut, he was told that it had been destroyed.

In Shurut, Sim was confronted by a group of villagers. When he said that he had come to see the old church, they told him that there was never a church in their village. As he left Shurut, the taxi driver told Sim that the villagers had phoned the police in Julfa and that law enforcement officials would probably be waiting for him somewhere along the road.

A car was indeed waiting for Sim. “A policeman got into the back of the taxi and asked me if I had a topographic map, and an ethnographic book.” When Sim answered that he did not, the policeman made a cursory search of his bag. In Julfa, Sim stopped at the police headquarters, where his bag was searched again. After waiting in a corridor for a while, Sim was taken to the town’s Araz Hotel. He was escorted to a garden in the back of the building. Sim was finally allowed to leave after 3 hours. Everything in Sim’s “bag was taken out and carefully looked at, and the bag itself was examined for any secret compartments. This lasted for about 15 minutes, without a word being spoken.”

Sim was asked about his job. How much did he earn, who paid him to come to Nakhichevan, and why would he spend his own money to come here? The officers examined carefully Sim’s notebook and checked through all of his photographs stored in his digital camera. They showed most interest in a photograph he had taken in Nakhichevan city. “It was of a stone slab that I had seen in the gardens opposite the Momina Hatun mausoleum, surrounded by a large collection of ram-shaped gravestones. On this stone was carved a cross rising from a rectangular base.”

The Azeri officials told him that it was not a cross. Sim told them that he had read about the church in an Armenian book. They angrily responded: “It is wrong. It is lying to you. You see, Armenians are always lying — they are lying to everyone.” They also stated that “there never were any Armenian churches anywhere in Nakhichevan. There were no Armenians ever living here — so how could there have been churches here?” The Azeris told Sim: “We think that you are not here with good intentions towards the Azerbaijan republic.”

Sim stated that his unpleasant experiences in Nakhichevan shed “some light onto the attitudes that Azerbaijan holds about Armenians and anything Armenian.” The report shows why it is impossible for Armenians of Artsakh (Karabagh) to live ever again under oppressive Azeri rule. If a Scottish visitor is treated so poorly, imagine how much worse Azeris treated their Armenian subjects in Artsakh until its liberation.

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  1. ara said:

    I was there years ago in the late 1970’s all over-the remnants of our ancestors could be breathed in the air-they were marched out, butchered and removed-the physical evidence-well-they had to rid us of our ancestral fossils-otherwise-they know they would lie and the prrof would be in their face that our land is there-not their land! They had then- their outhouses outside their front doors- what would we or any civilized society expect from such tribes that live there now-not much more- we are coming- slow and easy-!

  2. Pingback: Najicheván : ¿Por qué los armenios no puede volver a vivir bajo el gobierno de Azerbaiyán | Rey de reyes -Tigran el grande

  3. Halo said:

    A very telling article, yet articles like this make me angry, because Turks and Azeris always expertly prove the evil potential of “humans”.

    “We think that you are not here with good intentions towards the Azerbaijan republic.”

    And how might we go about having good intentions towards Azerbaijan? By being genocidal liars?

    And I wonder, what kind of intentions do Azeris have on Armenian soil, destroying all of Armenian cultural traces?

    What a joke this country “Azebaijan” is. They are in the middle of an Armenian strip of land with an ARMENIAN NAME and claiming Armenians never existed there. I am looking forward to the day Armenia kicks these genocidal savages out of all Armenian historic territories.

  4. Stewie said:

    And the point of the story is…? Mr. Sims needs to see both sides before he can make any judgments aganst anyone! Then again, this story is being related by Harut Sassounian, so there could NEVER be any biasness in reporting select pieces, now could there! I don’t blame the Azeri officials in their reation to Sims, considering how low ARF dashnak Armenians will sink to to get what they want! Let’s not forget the numerous genocides Armenians committed in history against Moslems and non-Moslems! Put it all together (after removing the biased sections by Harut [most typically for them, taken well out of context]) and you find a story of a man from Scotland who traveled to the Caucuses, was question by the local police, was released and then went home. PERIOD!

    • Avery said:


      You contemptible Anti-Armenian shill.
      The expression “ARF dashnak Armenian…” tells me all I need to know about you Azeri-Tatar-Turk nomadic invader.

      Go back to your homeland. Out of Armenian Highlands.

    • gary S. said:

      Both sides? Ha. Tuks didn’t like their archives so they had it purged. See recent Wikileaks article about this? Azeris don’t like their history, so they had Armenian graves obliterrated. Have you seen this video footage?

  5. Norin Radd said:

    There are very few countries in the world in which a visiting tourist would be treated this way. Even if this man was visiting to potentially look deeper into Armenian history which existed in Nakichevan for thousands of years, he still should not have been treated in this manner.

    Perhaps more importantly, why would a visiting scholar be treated in such a bad way, his personally belongings violated, his dignity violated, his individual liberties as a GUEST in Nakichevan violated by Azeris, WHY would you treat this man in such a disgusting manner IF there was NOTHING TO HIDE from scholars like him and the international community in general? Azeri government’s violating sacred historic Armenian graveyards, destroying cultural monuments to hide traces of Armenian ancestry and history in Nakichevan, and participating in a concerted effort to wipe clean all traces of evidence that in fact Nakichevan has a rich, ancient, and milenia long history of being Armenian lands, all of these actions by Azeris in Nakichevan only re-enforces their attempt to hide something, and that something is legitimate land claims to Nakichevan by Armenians.

    TO ALL AZERI mutts, if you have NOTHING TO HIDE you inbred goat lovers, WHY would you harass this man? Why would your villagers be brainwashed by authorities to harass this man? The answer deep inside you know already, Nakichevan is ARMENIAN LAND, just like Arstakh (FORMERLY known as Nagorno Karabagh).

  6. Hrant K. said:

    Not so many British Men or Women of integrity are there, who stand up to injustice and fight stubbornly

    to reveal the Truth. Such is this Scottish genleman researcher Steven Sim. I think the Queen should

    grant him the title of a “Sir” for his courageous attitude and service to mankind and the Universal Heritage

    thru digging out azeri BARBARIZM and Cultural Genocide of Armenian Landmarks!! Baroness Lady

    Caroline Cox also risked her neck more than a dozen times to provide Medical aid to Artsakh,

    and last but not least the Mayor of Cardiff, for permitting the Memorial to the Armenian Genocide in

    Wales!!! The above 3 are true friends of Truth, Justice and Mankind!!!

  7. Nakhichevan, Armenia said:

    The name “Nakhichavan” in Armenian literally means “the place of descent”, a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah’s Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. The prefix “Nakh” means first, “ichav” means landing and “avan” is Armenian for town.

    Keep an eye on Mt. Ararat – don’t lose sight of it 😉

    • Դրօ said:

      Well more like, “the place of first decent”. Also, don’t forget that there’s a province in Armenia’s current borders named Ichevan, not to mention all the other Armenian place names that end with the suffix “-van”, including our capital.

  8. Gregory said:

    I salute you Steven Sim for daring to expose the truth and hypocrisy of the present Nakhichevan authorities. Armenians need to expose this kind of treatment/harassment towards tourists who are more open minded and want to investigate the history of the region. We can do this by going there more often and perhaps video taping the region and its destroyed monuments.
    If famous people go there and are told to leave, then inevitablty there would be media attention associated with it. Whenever Azeri’s talk about `Armenia occupying nagorno karabakh`, we should bring up the issue of Nakhichevan. After all, the land mass doesn’t even border Azerbaijan.

    • Papken Hartunian said:

      It is ours now! It has alway been ours! Just temporarily it has been illegally occupied by Turks.
      A day will come, Armenia becomes supper power in the region. I believe this because we have enemies such as Turks. Turks’ barberism will force Armenia toward regional super power. A day will come, Turks’ computer will explode ending with a message “Benim adim Ermenidir! Dostum!

  9. zohrab said:

    turks and azeris never sleep comfortably because they know its not their home.time will come we survived it all we will come and get our homes and our highlands back from these mongoloids

  10. Ulku MAVZER said:

    Whatever, where and whenever a Turks penetrates anything or anyone will become TURKISH forever and ever!!!