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01/28/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) – Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh, a human rights and activist group, released a report outlining the major Armenian cultural heritage sites that are now under Azerbaijani control following the November 9 ceasefire agreement. The organization called on UNESCO to intervene in order to preserve these sites.

The report lists that at least 1456 immovable heritage sites are no longer under Armenian territory in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). These include 161 churches, 591 cross stones, 453 engraved stones or cemeteries, 43 palaces and 208 other monuments. There are also several historic and valuable archeological sites such as the ancient city of Tigranakert. Azerbaijan has a history of defiling Armenian heritage sites, as it did between 1997 and 2006 to over 50,000 monuments and tombstones. The report also suggests that there has already been damage so some of these cultural Christian sites during the recent occupation.

Azerbaijan historically and actively attempts to rewrite the narrative of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and discredit Armenian rights. They engage in spreading misinformation by “albanizing” the cultural sites, claiming they belong to Azerbaijan’s ancestors and creating a historic Azerbaijani presence in Armenian lands.

UNESCO intervention is crucial for the preservation of the Armenian Christian cultural sites and preventing the desecration by Azerbaijan.

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