Armenian churches are being destroyed in Azerbaijan: Daniel Ioannisyan in OSCE

The Human Dimension Conference of the OSCE/ODIHR continues in Warsaw, where Daniel Ioannisyan, the Programs Coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens, gave a speech today, referring to the transformation and destruction of Armenian churches by Azerbaijan.

The video recording of Daniel Ioannisyan’s speech and the Armenian text are presented below.

«Firstly, in the context of religious freedom, I would like to refer to the relevant policy of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. I assume that you all know that in 2020 Azerbaijan launched a full-scale war, as a result of which many territories of Nagorno Karabakh came under Azerbaijani control. As a result, 149 Armenian churches came under the control of Baku, including 3 churches that are 1500 years old.

Those churches, cathedrals and monasteries began to suffer the same fate as anything and anyone Armenian that has ever appeared under the control of Azerbaijan, that is destruction and transformation.

At the state level, it was announced that those places of religious worship are not Armenian churches, and some of them began to be simply demolished, while others, under the name of rehabilitation works, were disfigured. Including Ghazanchechoc cathedral, where, by the way, my great-grandmother’s brother served as a priest more than 100 years ago.

The honorable representative of Azerbaijan announced here yesterday that they want peace in the region. But those who want peace would not destroy the places of religious worship of the other party.

The destruction of the places of religious worship of the neighboring nation leads to the rising of mutual hatred. If you deprive your neighboring nation of a place of religious worship that has served them for more than a thousand years and, even more, if you destroy it, then what is the value of your words about wanting peaceful coexistence?

In this regard, we consider that the international community should demand that Azerbaijan immediately stop the destruction and distortion of Armenian churches and other places of religious worship under its control.

Moreover, we believe that, in this respect, the involvement of UNESCO in the process could be very useful.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would also like to address issues related to the freedom of assembly in Armenia. Even before the 2018 revolution in Armenia, a high level of state tolerance towards peaceful assemblies had started to form in the country. It increased in recent years, when the opposition was able to block the central streets and intersections of Yerevan for months without serious obstacles.

However, we have observed cases of use of disproportionate force against protesters by police officers and representatives of other law enforcement agencies. We have filed relevant complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office with video evidences. But the investigations in all those cases have not recorded progress, and no criminal prosecution was initiated against any police officer.

In this regard, we call on the Armenian authorities to stop the unlawful protection of the police officers who violated the right to freedom of assembly».

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