Footage of Azerbaijani servicemen vandalizing the St. Yeghishe Church in Artsakh’s Mataghis has surfaced and was published by Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan on his Facebook page.
Last week Jonah Fisher, a BBC reporter, revealed that Azerbaijanis destroyed the Zoravor Surp Astvatsatsin Church in Mekhakavan (Jebrail), while two weeks ago evidence surfaced of Azerbaijani’s demolishing the St. John the Baptist Church—commonly known as Kanach Zham—in Shushi.
All the acts of vandalism and destruction have taken place after the areas were surrendered to Azerbaijan as a result of the November 9 agreement.
“The Azerbaijani servicemen (Turkish flag on the uniform can also be seen) cynically vandalize the Armenian church, overtly showing their intention to insult the church,” Tatoyan wrote on Facebook. “Before entering the church, they say, ‘Let’s now enter their church, where I will perform namaz.’”
“This is an overt manifestation of hate based on ethnicity and religion,” added Tatoyan, explaining that Azerbaijan’s state policy of advancing hatred toward Armenians continues.
On Monday, Tatoyan issued a statement in which he cited concrete examples of state-sanctioned hatred and enmity by not only the leadership of Azerbaijan, but also Turkey.
“The President of Azerbaijan, and the country’s authorities have been implementing a policy of hatred, enmity, ethnic cleansing and genocide against Armenia, citizens of Armenia and the Armenian people for years,” said Tatoyan. “The Turkish authorities have done the same or have openly encouraged the same policy.”
One of the examples cited by Tatoyan was remarks at the congress of his “New Azerbaijan” Party (March 5 to 7), where Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev proudly stated, “the younger generation has grown up with hatred toward the enemy,” meaning Armenians.
During a military parade in Baku on December 10, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the Artsakh war with the Armenian Genocide and the massacre of Armenians in Baku in September of 1918. At that event, Tatoyan cited, Erdogan said that it was a day for glorifying the souls of Ahmed Jevat Bey, Nuri Pasha, Enver Pasha, and members of the Caucasus Islamic Army.
“The European Court of Human Rights judgments have confirmed that killing of Armenians in Azerbaijan has ethnic motivations and is encouraged by authorities,” explained Tatoyan. “Therefore, no matter what process, program or words are used, these fundamental facts cannot be overlooked.”
“This means that a one-sided process must not develop at the expense of the life, physical security, or any other right of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia, or the normal life and peace of the Armenian population,” said Tatotyan. “The state-supported hatred and enmity toward Armenia and the Armenian people not only has not diminished in Azerbaijan or Turkey, but due to lack of any responsibility, it is taking on new manifestations.”