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YEREVAN, DECEMBER 15, ARMENPRESS: Three dioceses of the Armenian Church in Iran have applied to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organizations requesting their swift reaction to another act of vandalism in the Armenian cemetery in the Jugha region (presently Julfa) in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan.

The Armenian embassy in Iran presented a series of photographs showing around 100 Azerbaijani soldiers armed with sledge-hammers and military hardware destroying unique cross-stones in the cemetery that miraculously survived a similar attack in 2002. The embassy described this act of vandalism as continuation of the cultural genocide committed by Azerbaijan.

Armenian authorities and organizations have several times asked UNESCO and other international organizations to set up a commission to examine the damaged historical monuments on location, as well as turn the Jugha cemetery into an international historical and cultural neutral zone. Previous acts of vandalisms were witnessed by Iranian border guards on the other bank of the River Arax. The historic cemetery, located 10-km from Julfa (Iran) and across the northern bank of the Arax River, has three hills, each representing different eras from the twelfth to seventeenth centuries.

At the beginning of twentieth century, the cemetery in which ancestors of former Nor Jugha Armenians were buried, had some 12,000 khachkars (cross stones). Due to premeditated destruction by the Azeri government, the cemetery now has less than 2000 unique khachkars, most of them vandalized.

Apparently the Azeris, who had stopped the vandalism under the pressure of the international community three years ago, have decided to complete their initial plan to thoroughly cleanse the site.

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