15.03.2022, 11:33 - Baxış sayı: 875

The aesthetic value of the tangible cultural heritage in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan

Tahmina Suleyman Agakishiyeva
Associate professor. Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy and Sociology – Baku

“Damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world” Preamble to the 1954 Hague Convention

Annotation: The article is intended to bring to the attention of readers the acts of vandalism committed by the Armenian occupiers in the liberated territories of
Keywords: Tangible cultural heritage, aesthetic value, Armenian vandals, Armenian occupiers, Karabakh, Azerbaijan.

The relevance of the work lies in the fact that any loss of tangible cultural heritage will affect all areas of the life of both today's and future generations, can lead to spiritual impoverishment, a break in historical memory, and the degradation of society as a whole. The issue of preservation of tangible cultural and historical monuments is one of the most important tasks for any developed state. Their preservation is necessary to maintain the identity of various nations and human civilization as a whole. However, today the issue of preserving cultural objects is becoming one of the burning global problems, despite the well-developed regulatory space, no one can guarantee their integrity and accessibility. In the course of human history, tangible cultural values were vulnerable for a number of reasons that have not lost their relevance today, but have changed their scale: Armed conflicts, as in previous eras, threaten the existence of monuments. However, today it has taken on a completely different dimension; natural disasters. fires and earthquakes have been terrible calamity for architectural monuments in all eras. Today there are natural anomalies and cataclysms; revolutions, change of political regimes, etc.
It is important to emphasize that modern society is aware of the wide possibilities of the tangible and cultural heritage, the need for its conservation and effective use, as one of the important resources of world civilization. It must be emphasized that the preservation of cultural heritage is the duty of the belligerents.
But, alas….! Too often we see how historical heritage, works of art, etc. are destroyed during wars. The question arises: how can protection be achieved for cultural monuments? Is it possible to restore what is destroyed?
Tangible - Cultural Heritage ...! What associations arise in our minds when we think or come across the word tangible and cultural heritage? What is meant by this title? Why is it important to remember cultural monuments? Why should we care about attacks on cultural property during armed conflicts? You see how many questions arise when pronouncing this words.
The author in his work prefers to focus on the aesthetic value of TCH in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, on the current status of cultural monuments and on the protection of TCH during the war. Of course, the Karabakh war! Speaking about the Karabakh war, it is essential to emphasize in bold type the state of the tangible and cultural heritage in every sense of the word. Under the occupation of Armenia, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan was destroyed by vandals as part of the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites that are of aesthetic value. It can be said that the occupiers in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan waged a colossal war with the cultural heritage. Naturally, it is painful to note the state of our tangible and cultural heritage in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. The destruction of such a heritage leads to more serious consequences: our history, our dignity, everything that makes us human, are under attack. In a word, the destruction of the TCH is an attack on our humanity. Now let's move on to the most important, to the most painful place for us.
KARABAGH…!!! The author of the article expresses his feelings for the deeds in this way: “I saw many destroyed houses in my hometown of Shusha, but I experienced the most severe pain on the ruins of our ancient monuments. It seemed to me that a part of myself had died and that I would never be the same again - just like every stone is saturated with history, people's memories. Attacks on cultural property are not just about destroying something. In the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, by the armed formations of Armenia, traces of vandalism can be found at every step.
Along with the moral and psychological impact inflicted on the population, this is a hit to the very heart of Karabakh. But at the same time, I am immensely happy that in my Motherland high morality and bewitching spirituality have not yet been completely erased from the social memory of the nation. So -Azerbaijan, as a multicultural and tolerant country, ensures the protection of all cultural and religious monuments located on its territory - both Muslim, Jewish and Christian.
It should be noted that Azerbaijan, as a country that suffered from occupation, sensitively approaches to the issue of destruction of cultural monuments not only in our liberated territories, but throughout the world, and has always attached importance to cooperation with UNESCO in this area. “It is no coincidence that in 2004 Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for her merits in the preservation and development of Azerbaijani oral folk literature and national musical heritage. It was thanks to her initiative and support that important projects in the field of cultural heritage protection were implemented both in Azerbaijan and in foreign countries, schools were built, mosques, churches and historical monuments were restored”[4].
It should be emphasized that the destruction of the MCH in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan and the deliberate damage caused to it by the Armenian vandals during the occupation deeply shocked not only the Azerbaijani government, not only the citizens of Azerbaijan but also the foreigners who arrived in Karabakh.
Russian journalist and military expert Igor Korotchenko recalled the destruction and crimes of Armenia itself in Karabakh during the 30-year occupation: "On the territory that Armenia occupied from Azerbaijan, it behaved in exactly the same way as Hitler's Germany in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. The total monstrous destruction of cities, towns, villages, all infrastructure. In terms of the scale of destruction, Armenia even surpassed Hitler's Germany. If after the Germans there were skeletons of buildings, somewhere whole buildings, then after Armenia everything was destroyed.This was recorded by international observers, numerous foreign delegations, I personally visited Fizuli, Aghdam. Fizuli and Aghdam regions - what I saw there defies any description - the landscape looks like after the atomic bombing" [5].
Cultural heritage conservation specialist Corin Wegener rightly points out that “The military can play a significant role in the preservation of values during conflict, but for this, already in peacetime, it is necessary to train military specialists who will be directly responsible for cultural heritage sites. It is necessary that the military be familiar with the requirements of the Hague and Geneva Conventions regarding the safeguarding and defending of cultural sites’’[6]. For example, in the south of Portugal, near which the recruiting station is located, recruits are given a special day to spend in a museum so that they understand the importance of cultural heritage sites. And then, when they enter another country where hostilities are taking place, they will transfer this comprehension. Many such examples can be cited. It is brought to attention that there are irrefutable facts and evidence that, despite the fact that Armenia is a member state of the 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention “For the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” and the 1970 Paris Convention "On measures aimed at the prohibition and prevention of illegal import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property", Armenia has destroyed, falsified and plundered the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan in the territories it once occupied. I would like to emphasize that more than half of the historical monuments in the territories transferred to Azerbaijan were destroyed during the occupation. Of course, it is impossible to list everything, but the author of the work tries to inform about some. Shusha is the heart of Karabakh and the cradle of Azerbaijani culture. In the city of Shusha, the Armenian invaders destroyed many objects of material and cultural heritage. Of these: Yukhara Mosque (Upper) Govkhar Agha; Ashagy Mosque (Lower) Govkhar-Aga; House of Khurshidbanu Natavan - a two-story building that belonged to a famous Azerbaijani poetess of the 19th century; Branch of the house-museum of Bul-Bul - One of the founders of the Azerbaijani national musical theater; Gadzhi Gulular estate; Mamayi Mosque – During the Soviet era, the Mamayi Mosque functioned as a house of poetry; Museum and mausoleum complex of Molla Panah Vagif - Azerbaijani poet and statesman of the 18th century, vizier of the Karabakh khanate; Saatly Mosque; Fortress of the city of Shusha - During the Karabakh war, the walls of the fortress were significantly damaged. It is gratifying that the famous Ganja gates, the main entrance to the Shusha fortress, have been preserved. This place is one of the landmarks of the city; Realschule; History Museum; House-Museum of Mir Mohsun Navvab - Azerbaijani scientist, artist, musicologist, poet; Shusha branch of the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpet and Folk Applied Art; State Art Gallery; Karabakh State Historical Museum; Karabakh Literature Museum; House-Museum of Uzeyir Gadzhibekov - Azerbaijani, Soviet composer; Russian church; Albanian Church, etc. [7.]. In addition to all this, the monuments of Uzeyir Gadzhibekov, Bul-Bul and Khurshidban Natavan were shot.
The monuments were pierced with bullets by the Armenian occupiers - the poetess Natavan, also known as "Khan kyzy", with a headscarf covered, holding a book in her hand with a broken thumb, Uzeyir Gadzhibekov, in a double-breasted jacket and broken glasses, and the famous Bul-Bul riddled with bullets. It was decided not to restore the busts, and today they are proof of the barbaric attitude towards Azerbaijani monuments in the previously occupied territories. Among the destroyed historical monuments there are monuments of national importance. These include the Caravanserai in the village of Gargabazar in Fuzuli dating back to the 18th century; Fuzuli Museum of History and Local Lore; Museum of Folk Applied Arts in the city of Fizuli; Khudaferin Bridge, the Red Albanian Temple in the Khojavend region, the Albanian temple in Hadrut, the Maiden Tower in Zangilan and the octagonal tomb in the Mammadbeyli village of this region, etc. Mosques were either destroyed or turned into a stable for pets. The author of the article does not see the need to comment on this judgment. In a word, the current state of the cities of Fizuli and Aghdam resembles the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombing in 1945.
These monuments once again testify that the Azerbaijanis, have lived in the territory of the modern Azerbaijan Republic since ancient times, and have a rich history and a huge cultural heritage. The author of this topic encourages readers to imagine for a moment New York without the Statue of Liberty; India without the Taj Mahal; Paris without Notre Dame; Beijing without the Forbidden City Gugong; Athens without the Parthenon; Giza without pyramids; Moscow without the Intercession Cathedral, etc.
Another important aspect should be noted that, taking into account all of the above, Armenian vandals, as before and to this day, continue to destroy the material and cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. “Starting from the 50s, the Armenian nationalists, with the help of their patrons, launched a frenzied campaign of spiritual aggression against the Azerbaijani people. In books, magazines and newspapers periodically distributed in the former Soviet state, they sought to prove that the most outstanding masterpieces of our national culture, classical heritage, and architectural monuments belong to the Armenian people”[1.p.5]. In the museums of Karabakh, looted by the Armenian invaders, valuable items related to the history and culture of the Azerbaijani people were also stolen. Armenian vandals illegally took out, appropriated, armenized and sold abroad museum commemorative exhibits, hundreds of unique pearls of art, paintings, manuscripts, miniatures, Karabakh carpets, historical items, valuable jewelry and archaeological samples not only from the House-Museum of the famous Azerbaijani poetess Khurshidbanu Natavan in Shusha . In a word, the Armenian occupiers with particular cruelty destroyed cultural objects in the liberated territories that constitute the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. An accurate calculation of the damage caused by the Armenian aggressors to the centers of the national culture of Azerbaijan in Karabakh is impossible, since the looted and destroyed treasures are rare examples of the culture not only of Azerbaijan, but of the entire world civilization. In the Azikh cave, which is an archaeological monument of world importance, also in Aghdam, the Armenian invaders carried out illegal archaeological excavations and took out valuable finds. The exhibits found during the excavations in the Aghdam region were sent to Yerevan, and the anthropological fragments were sent to European countries.
The fate of these historical exhibits is unknown. After the occupation of Kelbajar, the Armenians tried to Armenianize Khudaveng Monastery, the monument was altered, the cross and inscriptions were destroyed. Khudaveng Monastery is one of the best evidence of the ancient civilization of Caucasian Albania. On the eve of the liberation of the Kelbajar region of Azerbaijan from the Armenian occupation, the bells and the famous Albanian stone crosses of the Khudaveng monastery were illegally exported to Armenia, which was a gross violation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Prohibition and Prevention of the Illegal Export of Cultural Property. I would like to emphasize once again that the Azerbaijani government, the Azerbaijani people with great respect for the monuments belonging to all religions in our country are doing everything necessary to save the Christian cultural and architectural heritage of Karabakh. Today, it is in the city of Shusha that two Russian churches are being restored.
François Bunion (historian, researcher and director of the International Law and Information Department of the International Committee of the Red Cross) in his article “The Formation of the Legal Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” notes that “Islam also establishes numerous rules that protect places of worship for Christians and Jews, as well as monasteries. One can quote the instructions of the first caliph Abu - Bakr as - Siddik (632-634 AD), the first companion and father-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, who addressed his soldiers with these words during the conquest of Syria and Iraq: “As you will advance, you will meet monks who live in monasteries and serve God in their solitude. Don't touch, don't kill them and don't destroy their monasteries"[2.p.7].
It is important to emphasize that the 44-day counter-offensive operation "Iron Fist" put an end to the 30-year-old Armenian unjust occupation of the ancestral lands of Azerbaijan and the barbaric destruction and Armenian falsification of history.
The author of the work also focuses on the fact that, committing acts of vandalism against Azerbaijan and the cultural heritage of all mankind, Armenia grossly violated the requirements of international documents - the 1954 UNESCO Hague Convention "On the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict", the 1970 UNESCO Paris Convention "On measures aimed at prohibiting and preventing the illegal import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property”, the 1972 UNESCO Paris Convention “For the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage”, the 1992 European Convention “For the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage and other international legal documents”. Thus, it can be said with good reason that the existing legal norms were not enough for the Armenian occupiers. In conclusion, it should be recognized that Azerbaijan is among those states that ensures its sovereignty based on the power of the economy and the power of the army. Of course, protecting and respecting the TCH is essential to post-conflict recovery. Of course, it will take a huge amount of time to heal these horrific wounds and restore Azerbaijani cities. Under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the process of restoring the liberated cities is being carried out actively and is taking into account the concepts of "smart city", "smart village", and modern models of agglomeration management. For example, Fizuli Airport, "Victory Road" - Fizuli-Shusha, in terms of infrastructure, meet the latest requirements of technical standards and parameters. The Azerbaijani state is absolutely sure that someday the liberated territories will again become the pearl of Azerbaijan and the restored Karabakh will become a monument to the martyrs who died in the battles for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We bow our heads to the heroism of our soldiers who stand face to face with the enemy. The people of Azerbaijan, as a victorious people, will always be indebted to them.
Karabakh – Azerbaijan!
P.S. At first glance, it seems that, even if, taking into account the title of the topic, I wrote everything that have considered necessary. Nevertheless, in the soul there is some kind of heavy sediment, understatement. And it's not about the level and completeness of the presentation of the material. It's about something else. To whom do we write the information, reports, articles and books that we transmit?
Although international law provides legal protection for cultural heritage, the application of these norms in internal armed conflicts and the real punishment of those who violate them still remains a serious and unresolved problem.
Unfortunately, they did not want to see, listen and hear all this, and did not want to say “Stop!”. "Stop!" Armenian unjust occupation of the ancestral lands of Azerbaijan and Armenian vandalism!
Reader, I appeal to your conscience. Regardless of your nationality and religious affiliation, skin color, occupation, and level of education, express your objective opinion openly, preferably in the media. Moreover everyone can come to witness the cultural genocide against Azerbaijan. We truly appreciate the current state of the material and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, which was deliberately destroyed by the Armenian occupiers.
“A destroyed monument, library or work of art is an irreparable loss, since each of these values embodied the spirit and history of a particular people” – Vittorio Mainetti (Professor of the University of Geneva) [4.p.34].

1.Amrali Ismayilov - "Ideology, Philosophy and Crimes of Armeniancy and Armenian Fascism" Second revised and expanded edition.// Baku: Knowledge Foundation, 2018, 640 pages.
2.François Bunion - “The origins and development of the legal protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict” //International Journal of the Red Cross - "Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict" - Geneva: "ICRC", June 2004, 176 p.
3.Vittorio Mainetti - "New Perspectives for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict: Entry into Force of the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention." // International Journal of the Red Cross - "Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict" - Geneva: "ICRC", June 2004, 176 p.
4. Hikmet Hajiyev - "The protection of cultural heritage is a universal obligation that cannot be used by UNESCO for political purposes" http://www.anl.az/down/meqale/vyshka/2021/yanvar/735032.htm
5. Igor Korotchenko - “In terms of the scale of destruction, Armenia surpassed even Nazi Germany” -https://vesti.az/xeber/%D0%9F%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B0/igor-korotcenko-po-masstabu-razrusenii-armeniyaprevzosla-daze-gitlerovskuyu-germaniyu-445407
6. Corine Wegener - "Museums must prepare for conflict" https://nvspb.ru/2014/10/03/muzei-doljny-gotovitsya-k-konfliktam-55626=
7. https://armenianvandalism.preslib.az/ru_shusha.html--Armenian vandalism.
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