Azerbaijan destroyed the Memorial Complex of Glory in the city of Berdzor

On May 30, 2023, from photographs spread due to the international press, it became clear that in liberated Berdzor, the memorial devoted to the victims of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) of the city of Lachin, built in the Soviet period in the center of the city, on a hill near the Peace Square (Fig. 1, 2).

The complex was significantly damaged during the liberation battles of Lachin, as it was located on the height of the city (Fig. 3), and during the battles it was fired from both sides. In the current situation, after the liberation, when the memorial complex lay in ruins, the administration of Kashatagh decided to leave the volume-planning decision of the monument the same, rename the monument to the Complex of Glory and engrave the names of Armenian freedom fighters who died during the liberation of Kashatagh on its walls (Fig. 4).

We accept that the monument was modified and renamed in accordance with new situations, which contradicts the first and second (1999) protocols of the Hague Convention of 1954 "On the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict", the Nara Document on Authenticity, adopted in 1994 in Japan, as well as the provisions of the Declaration on the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage of 2003.

The renewed memorial complex was reopened on May 18, 2002, the former basalt three semicircular walls were strengthened, a khachkar with the inscription “This holy cross is the intercessor of these martyrs” was installed in the first wall, the Tree of Life is depicted in the center of the khachkar in combination with a sculpture of pomegranate, and on the third wall - a plate with a rose combined with sculptures of birds, a pomegranate and a vine and bushes and the accompanying inscription "Peace be with you, Pax vobiscum" (Fig. 5, 6, 7). Three khachkars were also installed in the memorial area: one is dedicated to the Special Regiment (8), the second is dedicated to the Armenians who died for the liberation of Shushi (9), and the third is dedicated to Vazgen Sargsyan (10).

Azerbaijan has completely eliminated the violation of international conventions on the protection of cultural heritage carried out by the Armenian side, also violating the conventions aimed at protecting cultural heritage.

Our response

The changes and the final destruction of the Lachin memorial complex are among the rare manifestations of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, when both sides showed intolerance towards cultural heritage.

The team of Monument Watch presents a scientifically neutral position, criticizing both the Armenian side for modifying some details of the monument, and the Azerbaijani authorities for its complete destruction and finding “justifications”.

Each value of cultural heritage must be preserved in its authenticity and content. This principle is enshrined in many conventions and declarations of international structures for the protection of culture (the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 with its first and second (1999) protocols, the Nara Document of Authenticity, adopted in 1994 in Japan, the 2003 Declaration on the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage, etc.) as a fundamental principle to be followed by all states and authorities.

We urge both sides to adhere to international norms for the protection of cultural heritage and not to act on the principle of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".