Months after annihilating the largest medieval Armenian cemetery in the world, Azerbaijan honored a nearby Muslim monument in stamps.
An ongoing Google search about Jughacide (Jugha + cide/kill) – the destruction of the world’s largest Armenian medieval cemetery in Jugha (Djulfa or Julfa) by Azerbaijani authorities in Nakhichevan– introduced me to a website that sells Azerbaijani postal stamps since 1992.
I was shocked to find out that on May 22, 2006, just a few months after wiping out the cemetery and banning European delegations from visiting the vandalism site, Azerbaijan had issued a stamp with the depiction of Gulustan Tomb – a medieval Muslim monument only a few miles away from the barbarized cemetery.
I couldn’t help but think about the irony and the cynicism of honoring a Muslim monument – just next to the vanished cemetery – in a time when Azerbaijan vehemently denied (and still does) that the vandalism ever happened. What this a coincidence or a message to the Azerbaijani people? If it was a message, then what was it? A sense of satisfaction of finalizing the Jughacide? A reminder that the Azerbaijani people should only think about the Muslim heritage? What about the sarcastic speeches of Azerbaijani tolerance?
Interestingly, the same Gulustan tomb was already depicted, among with other monuments, on a 1999 stamp that commemorated the 75th of Nakhichevan – the birthplace of then president Heydar Aliyev who has stamps for his 80th Anniversary, for his death, etc.
The stamp for Aliyev’s 70th Anniversary had three grammar errors in one word: Nakhichevan, the Armenian region (now part of Azerbaijan due to J.V. Stalin’s order in the 1920s) where Aliyev was born. The regular Azerbaijani spelling for Nakhichevan is Naxçıvan (“c” with a tale on the bottom and “i” without the dot on the top), yet the 1993 stamp wrote the name as “Haxcivan” (H- for Heidar Aliyev?).
In 1994, Aliyev was replaced by Prehistoric Animals – the Dinosaurs – namely Coelophysis and Segisaurus, Pentaceratops and tyrannosaurids, Segnosaurus and oviraptor, Albertosaurus and corythosaurus, Iguanodons, Stegosaurus and allosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus and saurolophus, perhaps in an attempt to document the early days of Azerbaijani culture destroyed by Armanian terrorists. Well, the last one was a joke, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Azerbaijani authorities claimed that Armenians were responsibly for the extinction of the Dinosaurs. But if you pay attention to the stamps, you will see that all stamps, but one, depict fighting animals, and this perhaps symbolizes the anger in Azerbaijan at the time although the war with Armenia was already over.
Another war, namely the one on terror, has also become a theme for an Azerbaijani stamp. On September 18, 2002, Azerbaijan issued a stamp with New York’s twin towers and the phrase, “Freedom for All.” Are the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh part of that “All”? Not the vanished cemetery in Nakhichevan for sure.