Archive for the 'Nakhichevan' Category

The Road to Djulfa

Over a year and a half after Azerbaijan smashed to dust the largest medieval Armenian cemetery in the world (see “Djulfa” at the top of this blog), the Azeri authorities are preventing again European observers from visiting the site where the cemetery existed.

Whereas in April of 2006 Azerbaijan banned European observers from entering Djulfa with the pretext that accepting any possibilty of the “Armenian claim” that Djulfa is gone and, therefore, giving any credibility to anything that any Armenian says is the biggest crime any human being could make, now Azerbaijan has figured out the stupidest of all methods to prevent the delegation from monitoring cultural properties. It is saying that Europeans must enter Nagorno Karabakh from Azerbaijan otherwise they will not agree to the visit:


Azeri Press Agency
Aug 31 2007

The PACE Rapporteur for Cultural Heritage in the South Caucasus,
British MP, Edward O’Hara’s fact-finding travel to Azerbaijan,
Georgia and Armenia from August 28 through September 6 has been
postponed again, Milli Majlis press service told APA.

The statement reads that Azerbaijan has always supported this
initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
and PACE Rapporteur Edward O’Hara’s fact-finding visit to the region,
including Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, Nagorno
Karabakh and the other territories occupied by Armenia.

Azerbaijan objected to Armenian side’s demand at PACE during
preparation for the visit that the fact-finding mission should travel
to Nagorno Karabakh through Armenia (by car from Yerevan).

Related to this issue, Samad Seyidov, head of Azerbaijani parliament
delegation to the PACE, informed the Secretary General Mateo Sorinas
of Azerbaijan’s official stance, underscoring recognition of the
country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by the international
community and international organizations like UN, OSCE, NATO, CE etc.

Azerbaijan clearly announced its position that both domestic and
international missions and delegations have to seek permission of
official Baku to travel to its territory of Nagorno Karabakh and
other adjacent regions under occupation, and Azerbaijan will not
change its firm position in any condition.

As a result, PACE didn’t support Armenia’s unconstructive and baseless
stance and postponed the visit.

Now, how technically possible it is for European observers to visit Nagorno Karabakh from Azerbaijan is only for the pious Azerbaijani officials to figure out. What is Azerbaijan’s response to the fact that its own Ambassador to Russia visit Nagorno Karabakh, and logically through Armenia, in June of this year?

Of course the one and only logic behind any of the illogical Azerbaijani attempts to stop the monitoring of cultural rights in both Armenia and Azerbaijan is because they know they have smashed Djulfa to dust and can’t cover it up. For one reason they know there are satellite images, that are as objective as anything else can get in the world, that show the cemetery before the destruction. For another reason, they can’t admit that they committed an act of cultural vandalism, or cultural genocide, against a people they consider the creators of all evil on Earth. And most badly, they have lied so many times on the destruction of Djulfa that accepting they lied would undermine their very authority.

Anyhow, although I have been in touch with Mr. O’Hara (the head of the delegation who was supposed to visit and of course never will) and although he doesn’t sound interested in the faith (well, I guest in the past a lot) of Djulfa, I still believe it is to much extent the fault of Armenians that the world doesn’t know about the silenced story of Djulfa.

Well, I should go back to my homework. That’s the best I can do for Djulfa at this minute. But of course there is a reason I have not been really active on the blog recently. So yeah, Azerbaijan, I don’t know about the rest of my kin, but I have not forgotten Djulfa and never will.

Azerbaijan: Lack of “Armenian noise” = no arrests

Citing absence of “Armenian noise” as proof apparently ignoring this blog’s entry, officials in Azerbaijan are denying reports that three female Armenian journalists have been arrested in Nakhichevan, reports Russia’s Regnum News.


Representatives from Azerbaijan’s cabinet Ministry of Interior told Regnum the reports by “Realni Azerbaijan” (whose editor was sentenced to 2 ½ years last month by an Azerbaijani court) are false, because the Russian TV that the journalists supposedly work for is not talking about arrests, Armenia is not making noise and local human rights NGOs in Nakhichevan are silent.


According to the report by “Realni Azerbaijan” mentioned in this blog, three foreign female journalists were arrested by the local police in Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave after a villager overheard them talking Armenian.  The villager who tipped the journalists in was instructed by the police to say that the journalists were Russian and not Armenian.


The identities of the reportedly arrested journalists remain unknown at this time.  I tried calling the local prosecutor’s office in Kergerli region yesterday, where the arrest took place, but the phone number – found on an official Azerbaijani website – seemed disconnected.

Three Armenian Journalists Arrested in Nakhichevan

Three international female journalists have been arrested in Nakhichevan after a local villager overheard them talking in Armenian, reports Realni Azerbaijan Russian-language online newspaper on May 5, 2007.


Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Map of Azerbaijan showing Kangarli rayon

Courtesy of 

According to the accounts of villagers from Shakhtakhti (region of Kengerli), three journalists from a Russian TV visited Nakhichevan and convinced local villager Aleksper Asadov to guide them to the “Albanian church” of the village for a report on ancient historical monuments.


During videotaping the church, the journalists, according to Aleksper Asadov, started talking in Armenian.  Asadov informed the villagers who soon contacted the local police.  After the journalists were arrested having left the church, Asadov was instructed by the police to say that the journalists were not Armenian but Russian.


According to Realni Azerbaijan, whose editor was sentenced to 2 ½ years in jail last month after visiting Nagorno Karabakh (a disputed region de facto part of Armenia, de jure part of Azerbaijan) and challenging official’s Azerbaijan’s accusation that Armenian forces killed and mutilated several hundred Azeri civilians of Khojaly during the war of the 1990s, the news about the Armenian journalists has spread all over Nakhichevan. The identities of the three female journalists remain unknown.

Nakhichevan is an exclave of Azerbaijan between Armenia and Iran.  According to eyewitness reports, the rich Armenian culture there has been reduced to dust and the few survived Armenian monuments have been proclaimed “Albanian.” The recent act of vandalism against Armenian heritage was the complete destruction of the largest medieval Armenian cemetery on Earth in Southern Nakhichevan’s Djulfa district in December of 2005 that was videotaped and made available on the Internet. European Parliament members were barred by Azerbaijan from visiting the site where the cemetery (now converted to a military rifle range) existed.


The international community has recently accused Azerbaijan for persecuting journalists.  Two Azeri journalists were jailed for “insulting Islam” just last week.

The Godfather of Hate

How the arrest of a journalist leaks to the infamous agenda of an ultranationalist

Pictured: Hasan Zeynalov, member of Azerbaijan’s “Sicilian” mafia who is more famous for persecuting Azerbaijani journalists and less famous for his sinister agenda in Turkey to keep the Armenian-Turkish border closed.I hope that after the murder of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink there is more appreciation for the work of journalists among Armenians.

I am not sure that my optimism is applicable to the case for Armenia’s journalists yet, who are usually beaten, threatened and harassed in Armenia. Speaking of torture against journalists, I want to continue telling the underreported story of one journalist who was placed in jail yesterday, with the hope that there will be transnational outcry for persecution of journalists worldwide in general, and in Azerbaijan in particular. And not only because persecution of Azerbaijani journalists is too alarming (deaths, unbelievable high fines, regular beatings), but also because it is in the interest of everybody in the Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and the rest – to have democracy and freedom of speech. Journalists are the only ones in those isolated conflicts that can bring the rails to the truth on the table. They are the ones who can de-demonize “the other” by showing how much common all people have among each other.This is exactly why Eynulla Fatullayev was placed in jail for 2 ½ years yesterday. “Why do you interview Armenians?” This is the question that Fatullayev, in his own words, is being asked.

In his “last words” (before the court decision), published at Fatullayev’s founded Russian-language Realniy Azerbaijan website, the Azerbaijani journalist ridicules the fact that in the twenty-first century people ask him why he interviews Armenians.

“It is my duty to do so,” has uttered Fatullayev, “After I am free again, I will be occupied with the same exact work.”

Fatullayev is not playing games. He knows how serious it is to challenge Azerbaijani authorities. Before establishing his own newspaper, Fatullayev worked with editor Elmar Huseynov. Huseynov was an Azerbaijani journalist who was murdered in March of 2005 after having written “The Godfather,” an article that accused the labeled Azerbaijani authorities “Sicilian mafia.” Before his murder, Huseynov, along with Fatullayev, was taken to the court by an Azeri ultranationalist – Hasan Zeynalov, Nakhichevan’s permanent representative in Baku since at least 1998.  This is the same Zeynalov who made news in 1998 when talking to the BBC he denied state-sponsored vandalism against Armenian monuments – especially the now-gone-to-dust Djulfa cemetery – in Nakhichevan by saying, “Armenians have never lived in Nakhichevan, which has been Azerbaijani land from time immemorial, and that’s why there are no Armenian cemeteries and monuments and have never been any.”

In my research about the Djulfa vandalism – the annihilation of several thousand hand-crafted medieval Armenian monuments called khachkars – I have seen pattern between persecution against journalists in Azerbaijan and destruction of Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan. It is interesting how Zeynalov himself has been apparently involved in both, but there is more to come – something hard to believe.

Zeynalov is now the Azerbaijani Consul General to Kars (unless there are two Hasan Zeynalovs – which would prove my speculation wrong), where he is involved in “proving” that there is no Armenian heritage there (just like Armenians have never lived in Nakhichevan).  For example, only last month Zeynalov alarmed to the Azerbaijani press that an Armenian delegation had visited Kars and “By the study of some historical sites, the delegation tries to prove the relation of these areas to Armenians. During the visit the Armenian representatives discussed the opening of the state border.” In August of 2006, the mayor of Turkey’s Kars city – across the Armenian border – was attacked by Zeynalov for having advocated for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border.  

I don’t know when Zeynalov transferred to Kars, but I can’t help to speculate that his mission is to stop the border from opening (why would Azerbaijan need a representative in Kars in any way?).  He is further busy organizing a commemoration for “Azerbaijani genocide” in Kars.

I don’t think the line of anti-democracy and anti-“otherness” has ever been this bold in Azerbaijan before. And the bottom line is – ultranationalist Azerbaijanis are not only danger to ordinary Azerbaijanis, but to ordinary Armenians and ordinary Turks likewise and vice-versa.

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