Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a joint letter to Ambassador Pashayev of Azerbaijan expressing their concern over the reported destruction of Armenian monuments in the medieval cemetery of Julfa, Nakhichevan of the Azerbaijan Republic on December 15, 2005.

Attached Image

The full text of the letter to Azerbaijani Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev:

December 22, 2005

The Honorable Hafiz M. Pashayev
Embassy of Azerbaijan
2741 34th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Dear Ambassador Pashayev,

As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, we are writing to express our grave concern and indignation regarding the reported destruction of the historically and architecturally significant Armenian monuments in the medieval cemetery of Julfa, Nakhichevan of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The eyewitness reports and documents brought to our attention indicate that on December 15, 2005 some 100 Azerbaijani soldiers, armed with heavy equipment, broke into the Old Jugha ( Julfa ) Cemetery, and engaged in barbaric destruction of its centuries-old Armenian khachkars ( headstones ).

The old Cemetery of Julfa is known to specialists to have housed as many as 10,000 of these intricately carved khachkar headstones, up to 2,000 of which were still intact after an earlier outbreak of vandalism on the same site in 2002. Eyewitness accounts of the ongoing demolition indicate at the organized nature of the operation, qualifying it as cleansing.

Attached Image

Azerbaijan, as a member of the international community, has national responsibilities within the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other relevant international frameworks to preserve the cultural and historical heritage in its custody. Persistent vandalism in Azerbaijan against monuments representing our common cultural heritage advises us and the international community concerned on your Government’s deliberate ignorance of its responsibilities in that regard. Such practice runs against the basic norms of civilized conduct of nations, and undermines the US and international efforts toward achieving greater stability and security in the region.

We therefore urge your Government to halt the ongoing vandalism in Julfa’s Old Cemetery immediately. We further urge the preparation and presentation of a documented report on the damage caused to the architectural ensemble as a result of the latest violence, to lead to measures in remedy of the situation. We also call upon your Government to cooperate with the international and expert community toward developing a program of action that would enhance the protection and preservation of this endangered treasure of world cultural heritage, and prevent the occurrence of any further violence.

We look forward to reviewing progress in this regard on a periodic basis.


Joe Knollenberg
Frank Pallone, Jr.