The current occupied and ethnically cleansed Shushi is a vivid example of the centuries-old and unflinching Turkish-Azerbaijani policy of ethnic cleansing, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said in a statement on the 2nd anniversary of the occupation of Shushi by Azerbaijan.
“As a result of the war unleashed against the people of Artsakh in the fall of 2020, around 200 villages and towns of the Republic of Artsakh have become occupied by Azerbaijan, including Shushi – the center of Armenian culture,” said Stepanyan.
“In the illegal decision of July 5, 1921, on the annexation of Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan, the city of Shushi was defined as the center of the emerging Armenian autonomy. In 1923, with a long-term goal of alienating Shushi from Artsakh when the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region was formed on a small part of Artsakh, Stepanakert, not Shushi, became the center,” Stepanyan explained.
“Azerbaijan has always wanted to capture Shushi, distorting its Armenian identity and passing it off as Azerbaijani. During the appropriation of the city, the main tool of the Turkish-Azerbaijani axis, both in the early 1900s and in 2020, was ethnic cleansing and genocide: the physical destruction and deportation of the Armenian population, elimination, and distortion of the spiritual-cultural values created by them,” said Stepanyan.
“The cultural landmarks of Shushi is unique evidence of the Armenian heritage of the city. That is the reason why Azerbaijan deliberately targeted the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral twice during the war, and after the ceasefire the Saint John the Baptist (Kanach Zham) Church and a number of Armenian cultural sites in Shushi have consistently been desecrated. Azerbaijan continues to destroy the city’s civil infrastructure, houses, and apartment buildings,” said Stepanyan.
“The current occupied and ethnically cleansed Shushi is a vivid example of the centuries-old and unchanging Turkish-Azerbaijani policy of ethnic cleansing,” added the Artsakh Human Rights Defender.
“By bringing international delegations to Shushi on various occasions, Azerbaijan is trying to legitimize its aggression. All those who visit Shushi become complicit in the displacement of people and also legitimize the use of force, aggression, and occupation,” said Stepanyan who reaffirmed that “The fact that today Shushi is occupied does not change the status of Shushi, it was and will continue to be an integral part of the Republic of Artsakh.”