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Destruction of cultural heritage


Armenia commits actions directed for destruction of cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, to falsification, evaluated as deeds considered by international conventions as universal crimes. In these areas, they either remove the traces of the historical and cultural monuments by destroying it or falsify them under the name of Armenian monuments. According to information from Armenian sources contained in the different periods of time, from space shooting, the reports of the OSCE mission to investigate the situation in the occupied territories, as well as information gathered from other sources, hundreds of historical monuments have been destroyed in these areas. Other monuments are legalized under the name of the Armenian monuments.

Mass destruction and falsification of historical and cultural monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is in contrary to, the Hague Convention of the 1954 (on the protection of cultural property during armed conflicts). This convention puts before the armed conflict participant the task to protect cultural values, architecture, art, and historical monuments, movable and immovable cultural values in the territory of each state. Destruction and falsification of historical and cultural monuments in the occupied territories is a violation of the Convention of the UNESCO "On the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage". Upon the request of Azerbaijan the OSCE had arranged twice missions to occupied territories to find out the status of in the occupied territories, and partly the conditions of historical monuments were also studied.  However, the Armenian side delayed sending of neutral mission of UNESCO to find out the status of historical monuments in the occupied territories. Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan a year before had prepared a report on the destruction of historical and cultural monuments in the occupied territories and submitted it to the UNESCO.
Most of the historical-cultural monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan were not registered during the period of the Soviet Union, which was a part of the Soviet government's biased policy against Azerbaijan. Prior to occupation the Azerbaijani side had registered 8, monuments of the world importance, 166 of country and 588 of local importance. But thousands of historical monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas have been left out of official registration. As a result, Armenians had the opportunity to get registered these monuments in their names. 
In recent years, about 100 Albanian churches in Garabagh were given a status of Armenian church status.  Just in 2006, more than 500 monuments around Shusha city were registered by Armenians as "Armenian monuments". In 2010, the Swiss journalist who visited the occupied territories, staff of "Wochenzeitung" and "Neues Deutschland" editions Andre Vedmer witnessed deplorable conditions of the historical monuments and cemeteries, too. Vedmer had confirmed destruction or severely damaging of many cultural monuments in Shusha and Agdam. In accordance with the facts collected by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences the historical monuments of the Islamic era remaining in occupied territories ruthlessly. Because as these monuments had the writings of Muslim epigraphy on them, so to armenianize them and to present as non-Azerbaijani monuments is impossible. This includes the gravestone monuments, tombs and mosques. According to the research of institute after the cease-fire in 1994 during 18 years the number of destroyed historical and cultural monuments in the occupied territories exceeds the number of monuments which have been destroyed during the armed conflict.

Archaeological excavations in the occupied territories

Armenian did not satisfy with destruction of historical monuments in the occupied territories and falsifying them but they are conducting archaeological excavations in these areas. The goal is to remove and hide irrefutable facts of history on settlement Armenians to Karabakh to Garabagh  from the beginning of the 19th century, and to expose the false facts as if Armenians had lived in this land for thousands of years. According to archaeological excavations beginning from early 2000s at that time, the Armenian expedition, a group of employees of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography was sent to the occupied territory of Agdam region, to Shahbulag summer pasture of the Karabakh khans. The front of them the task was put as to discover traces of mythical "Great Armenia"’s capital, "Tigranakert". In August 2006, one more group of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Armenian expedition was sent to Shahbulag summer pasture. A short time later, archaeologists spread the news of the discovery of the remains of the city called "Tigranakert". But soon their "discovery" has faced a shameful fact, it became clear that the members of the expedition laid stones polished with the help of modern technology in pits, and presented them as "historical facts". After the shameful fact foreign archaeologists participated in excavations had left the expedition.
However, the Armenian archaeologists continue excavations in Shahbulag pastures and in the Gifil Khan residence of Karabakh khans, the construction of which ended in 1751-1752. At result of excavations by Armenians the major part of Gifil Khan Palace were destroyed.
Armenians also carry out excavations in the occupied Fizuli region, in Azikh cave, which is known as one of the oldest human settlements, archeological excavations in Khojavend and Agdam regions. In Azikh cave, the archaeological excavations began in 2001. It should be noted that this cave was discovered for the first time in 60 years by Azerbaijani scientists, and the scientists found ancient human bones there. These bones found there still are considered as the most ancient human bones. 
According to an official of the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan at result of military aggression the first human settlements in the occupied territories Taghlar and Azykh caves, Garakopak, Uzarliktepe mounds were used for military purposes and destroyed deliberately. Besides mounds in Khojaly, Agdam, Agdam, Fuzuli, Jabrail regions as well as in the occupied Fizuli, Lachin, Kalbajar, Gubadli, Zangilan regions the cemeteries, mausoleums, grave monuments, mosques, temples and monuments of Caucasian Albania and other national monuments of Azerbaijanis are being destroyed. According to the facts gathered by the Ministry Armenian occupants had destroyed historical and architectural reserve in the Lower and Upper Shusha, Govharagha, Mardinli, Juma mosques, Natavan palace complex, many houses built in the national  style, shrines and temples, stone sculptures, ancient tombs, burial mounds.
As a part of Armenia's policy of destruction of cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is looting of the rest of the museums in the occupied areas the unique, historical exhibits, valuable pieces of art and culture. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan in occupied territories 22 museums with more than 40 thousand exhibits left. In these museums, items reacted to the history and culture of the people, paintings and sculptures, the world-famous Azerbaijani carpets, carpet products, and souvenir items from well-known personalities and other valuable exhibits were destroyed. Kelbajar’s Museum of History rich with ancient coins, gold and silver wares, rare and expensive stones, carpets and other handicrafts, Museum of History of Shusha region, World unique Bread museum of Agdam region, the Museum of History and Ethnography of Gubadli (more than 3 items) , the museum of the History and Ethnography of Zangilan region (about 6 thousand items), stone monuments’ museum and a number of other museums included in this list. None of these museums could be saved; it was impossible to move them.
Among the museums destroyed as a result of the Armenian occupation with its exhibits, of course, was the most unique Aghdam Bakery Museum. In Agdam, along with the Bread Museum, History and Ethnography Museum, Tar player Gurban Pirimov’s Memorial Museum, Agdam Photo Gallery, total 8 museums were also destroyed and looted. Just the Carpet and Applied Arts Museum’s branch in Shusha, exhibits of U.Hajibeyov’s Home Museum in Shusha was rescued but the museum fund had not been fully saved. In city of Shusha home museums of Natavan, Bulbul, Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev and other, art galleries, museums of local lore in Shusha and Khankendi were destroyed entirely. About 5 thousand exhibits of the Museum of History of the city of Shusha, 1000 exhibits of Shusha branch of the State Museum of Azerbaijan Carpet and Applied Art, Karabakh State History Museum, exhibits of memorial museums of a well-known composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov (over 300 items), founder of vocal art Bulbul (400 - exhibits), a well-known musician and artist Mir Movsum Navvab (over 100 items) were looted. Armenians had taken monuments of Uzeyir Hajibeyov and Bulbul, as well poetess Khurshidbanu Natavan from city of Shusha to Armenia. These monuments against all moral norms of international humanitarian principles, contrary to civilization were shot and damaged by heavy equipment. Later, it was possible to bring those monuments with difficulty to Baku.
One of the museums destroyed by the Armenians was History and Ethnography Museum of Kalbajar. This museum monument with more than 30 items of historical importance was established in the early 1980s. The museum was destroyed by the Armenians as a whole. Museum of History and Ethnography of Zangilan region played a role in the business card in order to receive information about history, culture of this region. The museum opened in 1980 and was located in the center of the region. There are nearly 6,000 exhibits preserved. It included different types of carpets, kilims, palaz, various copper and silver dishes, pan, jug, bags, silver daggers, the model of one of the villages and rural life of the eighteenth century of Zangilan. After the occupation, the museum was destroyed and exhibits looted. During Gubadli’s occupation Armenians   looted more than 5 thousand unique exhibits in the Museum of History and Ethnography of Gubadli. It was impossible to save any of those exhibits.

Military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan left to formation of about 1 million people  refugees from their own homes, destruction of many cities, towns, villages, the damage caused by dozens of billion dollars, as well as to the planned destroy of cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas. To calculate the exact damage caused by Armenian vandalism in the conflict area on the national cultural centers of Azerbaijan is not possible. At least because the wealth plundered and destroyed, are not just Azerbaijan’s but as well as the unique cultural samples of the world civilization.

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