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Statement of Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage of MIRAS
24-11-2020

During the 44-day Patriotic War that happened during September 27, 2020 and November 10, 2020, while restoring its territorial integrity, the Republic of Azerbaijan was subject to aggression by the army and citizens of the Republic of Armenia. Such acts of aggression have become widespread in the territory of Kalbajar region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, against its nature, historical sites and monuments, infrastructure, and settlements, which were to be vacated on November 15, 2020, according to the agreement.

Kalbajar region is the largest region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. None of the villages of this region was ever settled by Karabakh Armenians during the history. In April 1993, the Armenian army occupied Kalbajar region, carried out ethnic cleansing and completely expelled the entire Azerbaijani population from the area. The population was given 10 hours to leave Kalbajar, and the IDPs who left their homes fled to other parts of Azerbaijan by foot, moving through the mountains and forests. The population of Kalbajar region, who were unable to take the objects and documents from museums, administrative buildings and houses, have faced many difficulties for the last 27 years and have scattered all over the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The occupation of Kalbajar region by the Armenian army was condemned and criticized by many countries and international organizations, and documents were adopted for immediate withdrawal of the occupiers from the region. UN Security Council adopted Resolution 822 demanding the withdrawal of the Armenian army from the occupied Kalbajar region. Ignoring this resolution and other documents, the invader Armenian army did not leave the Kalbajar region, but continued the occupation. For the last 27 years, the Republic of Armenia has encouraged the settlement of Armenians in the Kalbajar region, and has illegally brought a large number of Armenians from Armenia, the Middle East, Europe, America, and Australia to this area. The resources of Kalbajar region, forestry and water economy, historical monuments, houses of the Azerbaijani population have been rudely exploited. Currently, according to the agreement, the army of the occupying Republic of Armenia must leave the territory of the Kalbajar region, and the population of the

Republic of Azerbaijan must return to their ancestral lands. Unfortunately, the invader Armenian army and its citizens are trying to provoke the agreement, causing destruction and fires in front of the eyes of the world community. They do not comply with the requirements of international conventions and decisions, and try to make more harm when they leave. In the forests of Kalbajar, trees are being rapidly cut down and transported to Armenia, and in most places forests are burned. The houses which they seized that belonged to Azerbaijanis, are being demolished, materials are being transported or burned on the way out. Infrastructure is being destroyed, electric poles are being removed, wires are being cut, all objects are being stolen or rendered useless. Schools and public buildings are burned, their belongings are stolen or destroyed. They kill pets that they cannot take and cut off their heads. Vandalism is taking place in the Kalbajar region. Of course, all the damage is assessed and will be required in the future on a legal level.

Kalbajar region is rich in terms of historical places and monuments. There is a rich cultural heritage related to the history and culture of Caucasian Albania. Dozens of churches and monasteries, such as the Khudavang and Ganjasar temples, are located in the Kalbajar region. Numerous works of art, from rock paintings to Muslim tombs, are scattered throughout Kalbajar. Kalbajar Museum was one of the richest museums of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Currently, the army of the Republic of Armenia and illegal residents of the last 27 years are transporting samples of cultural heritage that belong to Azerbaijan and its people to Armenia, emptying museums, churches and monasteries, removing their valuables and exhibits from the country. This is smuggling that happens in front of the eyes of the World.

Based on all relevant international conventions and guidelines, MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage calls the humanity and the international cultural organizations such as UNESCO, ISESCO, ICOM, ICOMOS, ICCROM, YOCOCU to condemn and stop these acts of vandalism with uncovering the Armenian smuggling of cultural heritage, suggests a joint assessment of the damage to the world heritage, asks for the support for the return of cultural heritage items stolen and looted from the Republic of Azerbaijan. If we do not condemn together today and stop acts of vandalism, it will not be possible to prevent similar incidents in the future.

 

Best regards,

Şhahla Khalilli

Chairman of Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage of MIRAS

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