Denying the Undeniable

Despite the existence of photographs and videotapes testifying to the recent destruction of the Christian headstones in Nakhichevan, Azerbaijani officials are “dismissing” the “Armenian claims.”

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BakuToday, an Azerbaijani newspaper, reports on 27 December 2005, “Azeri officials have dismissed Armenians’ claims on the alleged destruction of Armenian graves at an old cemetery of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, saying that these statements simply target misleading the international community.”

The common denialist tactic of “we did it – but you did it too” is in use again with fabricated stories

The “Armenian claims” are video and photo documents showing Azerbaijani soldiers destroying the ancient Christian headstones of Old Julfa (Hin Jugha) in Nakhichevan. Photographs from the mid-December (2005) destruction are available at the Web site of the Catholicosate of Cilicia ( The video, taped by the Armenian Prelacy of Iran at the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, is available at (smaller file); the same file (clearer view, but larger file) is available at

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.

– from the letter of the U.S. Congressmen to the Azerbaijani Ambassador

The Azerbaijani officials did not respond to the destruction until two U.S. Congressmen, Joe Knollenberg and Frank Pallone, Jr., sent a letter to Ambassador Pashayev of Azerbaijan on 22 December 2005. The letter urged the Azerbaijani government “to halt the ongoing vandalism in Julfa’s Old Cemetery immediately.”

The Azerbaijani government, nevertheless, is not “simply” saying that the last remains of the ancient Armenian cemetery of Old Julfa were not destroyed. The common denialist tactic of “we did it – but you did it too” is in use again with fabricated stories: on 26 December 2005, as informs, “Azeri media reported alleged destruction of an over one thousand years old [Azerbaijani] Agadede sanctuary 10 km away from Yerevan [in Armenia].”

By Simon Maghakyan