UN Special Rapporteur Addresses Azerbaijan on Status of Cultural and Religious Sites in Nagorno-Karabakh

In a direct message to Azerbaijan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights has expressed deep concern over the continuous destruction and appropriation of significant Armenian historical, cultural, and religious sites and objects in Nagorno-Karabakh. The rapporteur highlighted the organized reinterpretation of the region's history with the apparent intention to erase Armenian presence, coupled with reported discrimination against Armenians and pressures that violate international human rights standards and humanitarian law.

The UN Special Rapporteur voiced heightened concerns, stating, "I am particularly worried about the assertions that coordinated attacks on individuals, monuments, and symbols, alongside historical falsifications, erasure of place names, and negative rhetoric targeting Armenians, could evolve into a form of cultural cleansing."

He underscored that the International Court of Justice, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe have all voiced concerns regarding the developing ideology in Azerbaijan. This ideology seeks to portray Armenian cultural heritage as the legacy of "Caucasian Albanians." Additionally, there is growing apprehension about the revisionist trend aiming to deny the Armenian heritage.

"The overwhelming majority of experts in art, architecture, and archaeology in the region have unequivocally rejected the revisionist claims as baseless," conveyed the reporter's message.

He underscored that "since December 12, 2022, the Lachin Corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia has been blocked, a clear violation of the commitments made by Azerbaijan in the Trilateral Ceasefire Declaration of November 9, 2020 (paragraph 6). This closure has resulted in the isolation of 120,000 people, depriving them of essential goods and services, leading to a humanitarian crisis and causing severe consequences for numerous human rights."

Hence, this crisis serves as a direct manifestation of Azerbaijan's discriminatory approach towards Armenians. The evident objective is to eradicate all tangible signs of Armenian presence once the region is purged of ethnic Armenians in the future.