Udi propaganda at the Church of Surb Yeghishe in Mataghis village

On June 26, 2022, representatives of the Udi community of Azerbaijan visited the Armenian Apostolic Christian Church of Surb Yeghishe in Mataghis village, which came under the control of Azerbaijan as a result of the 44-day war, and performed an illegal worship service, thereby desecrating the ritual functions of the church. The visit was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, which once again proves the fact that Udi propaganda is purposefully carried out at the state level. The Azerbaijani side presented the church as an Albanian building of the 5th century, which was rebuilt, restored and Armenianized by Armenians in 1898.

This is another evidence of the existence of the conceited Azerbaijani Albanian theory. Recently, the second democratic structure of Europe, the Council of Europe, in its adopted resolutions considered the Albanian theory an Azerbaijani fiction. The truth is contrasted with Azerbaijani politics by clear facts, among which is the existence of an accurate inscription about the construction of the church, presented in detail in the article "St. Yeghisha Church of Mataghis". As for the Udi propaganda, you can read more about it here.

Our response

The Udian propaganda at Surb Yeghishe church of Mataghis village, located in the occupied territory of Artsakh, is a clear case of misappropriation of cultural heritage, resulting from hostility and denial of Armenian traditions. In case of misappropriation, the Armenian heritage is deprived of the properties of authenticity and integrity, which follow from the Nara Document on the Authenticity of Cultural Heritage, adopted in 1994 in Japan, the document adopted by ICOMOS in 2017 in New Delhi, as well as other documents of UNESCO and various international structures.

The Nara Document on the Preservation of Authenticity emphasizes that in cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the cultural values of all parties. It is important to underline the fundamental principles of the Nara Document, according to which the responsibility for cultural heritage and the management of it belongs, in the first place, to the cultural community that has generated that heritage, and subsequently to that which cares for it. And the fact of the authenticity of the cultural heritage should not be ignored (the Nara Document on Authenticity, paragraph 8).

It should also be noted that, according to paragraph "c" of the 9th article of the Second Protocol (1999) "Protection of cultural property in the occupied territories" to The Hague Convention of 1954 "For the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed conflict", any alteration to, or change of use of, cultural property which is intended to conceal or destroy cultural, historical or scientific evidence, is prohibited.

The change of the functional purpose of the cultural heritage violates the UNESCO provisions of the "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage" (2003). According to Article 11, Parties undertake to respect intangible values, regardless of their origin and function.

By destroying the symbols of the Christian heritage of Artsakh Armenians, breaking the true tradition of the Christian rite, Azerbaijan also violates the provisions of the 2001 “On the Protection of Cultural Diversity” and 2005 “On the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” Conventions, being a party of which. This kind of policy is a discriminatory attitude that also violates the freedom of thought proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, conscience, belief and the right to value the heritage created as a result of this freedom on their own.

In addition, the convention "On the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society" developed by the EU Committee of Ministers on October 13, 2005 in Faro (Portugal), also emphasizes that the significance of cultural heritage is determined by the community, and any expression of the collective thought as a value should be protected for the sake of its naturalness and authenticity.