Destruction of a Khachkar in Arakel Village of Hadrut Region
On January 12, 2021, the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Anna Naghdalyan shared a video on Twitter showing some Azerbaijani soldiers destroying a khachkar with a special machine in Arakel village in the occupied region of Hadrut, and one of them was filming the process of destruction.
We would like to recall that since 2010, "Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and Craftsmanship of Khachkars" has been included in the list of "The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity". And, according to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003, during and after the war khachkars as a unique manifestation of cultural heritage should be under special, enhanced protection, and the destruction of such values is recognized as an international crime against humanity.
According to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict any attempt of theft, robbery or misappropriation, hatred, and vandalism towards the cultural property is prohibited.
According to the first protocol of the 1954 Hague Convention, it is forbidden to destroy cultural or spiritual values in the occupied territory. The Second Hague Protocol of 1999 also ratifies that requirement and prohibits any act of hostility and retaliation against inheritance, which is classified as an international crime by Article 15.
Destruction of cultural property is prohibited by the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, for the Protection of War Victims, on the Laws and Customs of War, by four International conventions and protocols, and the relevant UN resolutions and treaties on the protection of human rights.
It may be added, that the intangible values are protected also by other UNESCO treaties: The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) and Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005), since these values are the result of cultural diversity and are created by one community (the Armenians of Artsakh). The protection of the culture of khachkars is also provided by International Humanitarian Law.
Moreover, the Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society adopted on October 13, 2005 in Faro (Portugal) by the ministers of the EU committee also emphasizes that the significance of the cultural heritage is determined by the community, and any expression of the collective thought of a specific nation must be protected as a value.