YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Vartan Oskanian addressed a letter to the UNESCO Director General Koitsura Maatsura Friday to draw the latter’s attention to acts of Azeri vandalism in the Armenian cemetery in the Jugha region (presently Julfa) in Nakhichevan.
"At present Azerbaijani soldiers armed with sledge-hammers and military hardware are destroying unique cross-stones in the cemetery that survived a similar attack in 2002," noted Oskanian.
"At the beginning of the twentieth century–the cemetery in which ancestors of former Nor Jugha Armenia’s were buried–had some 10,000 khachkars (cross stones). Due to premeditated destruction by the Azeri government–the cemetery now has less than 2,000 unique khachkars–most of them vandalized."
Levon Mkrtchian–the chairman of the ARF faction–linked this policy of cultural genocide to the Karabagh conflict–saying Azerbaijan has no right to talk about peaceful settlement of the conflict while pursuing this policy.
Previous acts of vandalism were witnessed by Iranian border guards on the other bank of the River Arax. 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.
Oskanian ended his letter by asking UNESCO to prevent the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in Nakhichevan.