Over 100,000 ethnically Armenian people have fled from their homes within the Republic of Artsakh throughout the final two weeks as Artsakh chief Samvel Shahramanyan introduced that the state will cease to exist as of January 1, 2024. Azerbaijani forces took over the area, additionally recognized by the Russian title Nagorno-Karabakh, in a deadly military offensive that commenced on September 19, following a nine-month blockade imposed on the only road channel connecting the territory to mainland Armenia.
Azerbaijani forces are additionally actively expunging any data of Armenian identification and historical past by means of the destruction of cultural landmarks and artifacts throughout the areas of Azerbaijan, together with the newly conquered Artsakh area, placing one of many territory’s most symbolic monuments liable to demolition. Among the many many landmarks in danger is “We Are Our Mountains” (1967), referred to colloquially as “Tatik-Papik” (“Grandmother-Grandfather” in Jap Armenian), an infinite mountainside sculpture simply outdoors of Stepanakert, the capital metropolis of the Republic of Artsakh.
Designed and constructed through the Soviet interval from crimson volcanic tufa stone by Armenian sculptor Sargis Baghdasaryan and architect Yuri Hakobyan, the monument depicts an previous man and girl rising from the earth, symbolizing the intrinsic connection between the folks of Artsakh and the mountainous terrain they inhabit. Previous to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh Battle in 2020, “We Are Our Mountains” was a preferred tourism vacation spot and some extent of satisfaction for Artsakhi Armenians who would go to casually or host essential milestone occasions equivalent to weddings on the website.
A photograph of an Azerbaijani soldier standing in entrance of “We Are Our Mountains” with the Azerbaijani flag pinned to the monument started circulating final Friday, September 29 — sooner or later after Samvel Shahramanyan’s announcement on the dissolution of the federal government of Artsakh — sparking outrage and upset amongst mainland and diasporic Armenians.
With the grim prospects surrounding the revered and symbolic monument’s future, a world humanitarian group known as All For Armenia has launched a petition to discipline world help for its preservation and safety.
“Because of the entire exodus of Armenians from the area, lower than a day’s discover of the necessity to evacuate, and the shortcoming to deliver something however the garments on peoples’ backs and a few private gadgets, this statue has been left behind together with the historical past of the Armenian folks within the area,” the petition reads, noting that the group is wanting right into a method of implementing a no-touch rule on the positioning for its safety. “Speedy motion is important, as we’re unaware of how lengthy this statue goes to remain safe.”
The monument is particularly in danger contemplating Azerbaijan’s well-documented historical past of demolishing Armenian cultural and non secular websites throughout the nation, being accused by students of committing “cultural genocide.” For the reason that 2005 demolition of an Armenian necropolis within the metropolis of Julfa, Azerbaijan has successfully obliterated 98% of Armenian cultural sites from its southwestern enclave Nakhchivan, which had a big Armenian inhabitants effectively into the Soviet interval that was later expelled by Azerbaijani forces within the Nineteen Nineties through the first struggle in Artsakh/Karabakh. The Caucasus Heritage Watch’s satellite imagery repeatedly paperwork Azerbaijani-inflicted destruction and damages to a wide range of websites in Artsakh and in varied components of Azerbaijan together with cities, cemeteries, and historical monasteries of the Armenian Apostolic Church for the reason that 2020 ceasefire settlement following the Second Nagorno-Karabakh Battle.
Almost all of Artsakh’s civilians have departed the area in worry of violent repercussions by Azerbaijani troops whereas Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan characterized the events as “a direct act of ethnic cleaning,” an evaluation agreed to by the Lemkin Institute and other human rights observers. Relating to the state of affairs in Artsakh, the primary prosecutor of the Worldwide Felony Court docket (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, advised Reuters that “it’s clearly a genocide.” Hikmet Hajiyev, diplomatic advisor to authoritarian Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, denied allegations of “ethnic cleaning” in an interview with Agence Free-Presse final month.