New facts by the BBC World News about the destruction of the cemetery, school and the church of Surb Astvatsatsin in Mets Tagher village

On November 10, 2022, Olga Ivshina, BBC News Russian journalist, after visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, published an article entitled “Showcase of Victory. How Karabakh lives two years after the war”. The article in details presents the acts of destruction and desecration of the cemetery of Mets Tagher village, the village school and the church of St. Astvatsatsin committed by the Azerbaijanis.

The article begins with a description of severe consequences of the war both sides suffered. “More than 8 thousand soldiers died, 10 thousand people were left homeless, settlements were abandoned and destroyed,” the article says.

In her extensive article, the correspondent also refers to the fact that the Azerbaijanis destroyed the cemetery called "Mets Tagher" and notes that 100 years ago, Armenians who fled the war lived here. Then, describing the village, located a few tens of meters from the main road, and the church of Surb Amenaprkich built here (for more details about the church, read the article “St. Amenaprkich Church of Mets Tagher Village”), the author gives many details about the destruction, desecration, and a number of other real acts of vandalism committed here by Azerbaijanis. In particular, the journalist writes: “The wooden entrance doors are broken, on the threshold there is the shattered stone head of Jesus Christ, broken off from the crucifixion. Under the entrance arch there is a dark hollow. Some of the old tombstones near the northern wall are broken - white stones are scattered underfoot. Describing the prayer hall, the correspondent notes that “in the center of the prayer hall there is a wooden bench covered with a thick, even layer of dust. Another one, overturned, lies nearby. The third bench is leaning against the altar for some reason. On the altar itself and on several walls there are large red letters - the names left here by the Azerbaijani servicemen who were the first to enter the village in the autumn of 2020. Almost nothing remained of the church utensils, just the icon torn into half”.

In the next section of the article, the correspondent also speaks about the village of Mets Tagher, from where, as a result of the war, the residents of Artsakh were forcibly deported. She describes the abandoned village, broken gates, broken glass, rusted metal of someone's car, etc. She also writes about the three-story school of the village. There are still Russian and Armenian geographical maps hanging on the walls of the renovated building. The correspondent claims that the school property has been looted; the walls of the corridor are painted with Azerbaijani inscriptions. She notes: "Those corridors where children were running two years ago are empty today."

This article informs us about the new facts of the destruction of the cemetery in Mets Tagher village (read about the destruction of the cemetery in the following article: “The roads of Azerbaijan” and threats to the Armenian Cultural Heritage”).

Six months after the end of the Second Artsakh War, Caucasus Heritage Watch, which monitors the cultural heritage of Artsakh through the satellite system, published images showing the destruction of the cemetery committed by Azerbaijanis. The journalist, confirming the destruction of the cemetery, mentions the visible traces of a bulldozer and states that the dilapidated tombstones are the last traces of the cemetery it destroyed.

Our response

It is worth recalling that the damage caused to the cultural values ​​of each nation is a threat to the cultural heritage of all mankind, because each nation contributes to the world's cultural diversity. According to The Hague Convention of 1954, which is also the basis of other international treaties, and its first article, cultural property is “movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history, whether religious or secular”.

According to Article 4 of The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict, any acts of vandalism, theft, robbery, misappropriation, hostility and revenge against cultural heritage are prohibited. According to the First Protocol of The 1954 Hague Convention, it is forbidden to destroy cultural or spiritual property in the occupied territories