The fate of the Armenian cultural heritage and monuments in the lands now under Azeri control, following the 44-day war last year, is very worrisome, demonstrated by the intentional destruction of some monuments like the Kanach Zham church in Shushi or the reassignment of a whole set of Armenian heritage to other groups, in particular the “Caucasian Albanians”. Hyestart therefore calls on the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, to visit both Azerbaijan and Armenia as soon as possible. Both countries have indeed extended standing invitations to all UN special procedures. An in-person visit or an e-visit by the Special Rapporteur, may be on the model of her visit to Serbia and Kosovo in 2016, is all the more important now that UNESCO’s attempt to send a mission to take stock of the situation regarding cultural properties in and around Nagorno-Karabakh has been in vain thus far, due to the opposition by Azerbaijan.
Alain Navarra, President of Hyestart, declared: “Non-state parties in a conflict, like the Republic of Karabakh, do not benefit from the protections laid out in international conventions, such as the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. An interim solution must be found urgently to fill that legal loophole”, adding: “Effective protection and safeguard of the Armenian cultural heritage of Karabakh are indeed real human rights issues, which need to be addressed urgently by the international community. We call on Karima Bennoune to do everything in her power to visit Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh as soon as possible. Peace in the region will only be possible when the issue of protection and safeguard of cultural heritage is taken seriously”.
More about Hyestart:
Hyestart is an organization supporting the development of democracy and human rights in Armenia (including its Diaspora) and the region, notably in Turkey. Hyestart promotes minority rights and artistic freedoms, while supporting contemporary artistic creation that questions society. With its bilingual blog, Hyestart also positions itself as a think tank in the areas above.