by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
the Armenian Mirror Spectator
FRANKFURT, OCTOBER 5, 2023 — Three days after Azerbaijan’s military aggression, which led to the expulsion of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, demonstrations took place not only in Berlin and Frankfurt. Organized by the Armenian Cultural Association in Hessen (AKV), it brought together representatives of diaspora groups who addressed several facets of the unfolding drama, political, juridical, cultural, and personal.
Shushan Tumanyan, a leader of the AKV, addressed the ongoing threat to Armenian cultural heritage. Citing the UN Security Council resolution of March 10, 2022 on the destruction of Armenian cultural monuments, she quoted the view that the removal of traces of Armenian culture resulted not only from damage and destruction but also historical falsification, in the attempt to present it as “Caucasian Albanian.” Then Minister of Culture Anar Karimov announced his establishment of a team in February 2022, tasked with “removing fictitious Armenian inscription for Albanian religious temples.” The UNSC denounced this policy of elimination and denial as part of Baku’s anti-Armenian policy, historical revisionism, and hatred, as dehumanizing, revanchist, and threatening the Republic of Armenia itself, and thus the stability in the Caucasus. Stressing the role of culture in national identity and history, it called on member states to protect this heritage.
Tumanyan called on the German government to denounce Azerbaijan’s aggression, and to seek, together with Artsakh Armenians, a political solution. Referring to the United Nations Security Council meeting held days earlier, she thanked German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s for her denunciation of Azerbaijan, but added, “we hope however that her words will be translated into deeds.” At the same session, no state demanded Azerbaijan troop withdrawals, no state proposed political or economic sanctions, Turkey threatened with talk of the Zangezur corridor, and no one criticized Russian peacekeepers. All which leads to the question: can one expect anything from the international community?
Ani Kanayan and Mariam Taranyan-Buschler from the German-Armenian Jurists’ Union (DEARJV) spoke next. While the former addressed the theme of political aspects, the latter focused on international law. For Taranyan-Buschler, not only was Azerbaijan’s military attack in violation of international law, but so was the 9-month blockade leading up to it, both showing genocidal intent. She deplored the failure of the international community, the states who signed the genocide convention, to intervene; this “makes them complicit in renewed genocide against the Armenian people,” she said.
She stated that not only was the population threatened, but so is their cultural heritage, recalling the bombardment of the Cathedral of Ghazanchetsots in Shushi, the religious symbol of Artsakh Armenians, and its transformation into a mosque. The mass exodus constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity, she continued, urging Germany and the European Union to call in the UN Security Council for “remedial secession,” referencing the self-determination process of Kosovo, whose separation was recognized as a solution to save lives.
Offering a glimpse into the personal dimension, Armenian journalist Susanna Margaryan read a brief entry on Facebook by 27-year-old Elina Antonyan from Stepanakert. A medical student in Yerevan, she was sending an SOS to the world, a description of the situation in Artsakh: Armenians bury family members, not knowing whether they will be able to visit the graves; or they cannot bury them, because they have to flee for their lives, and the dead lie in overcrowded morgues. Before abandoning their homeland, they remove photos of their loved ones killed, to protect them from vandalism. Some wait in vain for news from their missing children, children who may be sleeping somewhere on the ground, not knowing where to go. A village elder from Sarnaghbyur managed to evacuate the village children, but lost his own.
Areg Safaryan (AKV) described how meaningless it is to talk about “reintegration” of Artsakh Armenians in Azerbaijan. What kind of reintegration could occur, if Armenians in the Russian language Azerbaijan press are demonized as parasites and beasts, “as dirty, useless gypsies from India”? How can they become co-citizens and co-exist in Azerbaijan, that, regarding the 1915 genocide is more denialist than Turkey? — whose social media carry messages expressing regret that the “Turkish brothers hadn’t finished the job”? If Baku refuses to recognize any village as Armenian, and embraces notion that the Republic of Armenia is “western Azerbaijan”?