Sargsyan director of Parajanov museum is one
of the witnesses of Armenian monuments' destruction.
Director of the Parajanov museum and home Zaven
Sargsyan is one of the last Armenians to visit
the Armenian cemetery of Old Jugha in the territory
In 1987 the professional photographer took photographs
of more than 3,000 khachkars (stone crosses).
Now the photos are all that remain, after an outbreak
of anti-Armenian desecration that has destroyed
cemeteries and riled Armenian officials.
"The pain is that it takes days to photograph
so many things, but I had only three hours. Even
if you try to run through the whole territory,
you won't manage to do it in three hours,"
says Sargsyan. "I had to put on a wide angle
lens so that the shot embraces more things, and
running through the rows I shot the whole cemetery
as far as it was possible."
Sargsyan was allowed into the cemetery by a high-ranking
official in Nakhijevan, who let him in after Sargsyan
helped the official get medical treatment in Yerevan.
"The impression was very hard," Sargsyan
recalls. "All the ram-shaped statues' (ram
symbolized men) heads were barbarously broken.
Azeris sought treasure among those monolithic
stones." (Sargsyan brought back one of the
rams' heads which is now stationed at the museum
Sargsyan took this photo and others during
his visit in 1987.
Many of Sargsyan's photos have been published
in several books representing Armenian monuments,
including "Jugha" by Argam Ayvazyan.
Most will be published in the future, the photographer
says, as now they are the only evidence of the
"When years ago I was taking photos of the
Old Jugha's cemetery with its khachkars from the
Iranian frontier, it reminded me of forests laid
on three hills," says Armen Hakhnazaryan,
president of the Organization Investigating Armenian
Architecture. "In December everything was
destroyed, everything that remained. It was an
intended policy of the Azerbaijan authorities
aimed at annihilating any trace of everything
Armenian. Four hundred years ago, when Shah-Abbas
exiled the population of Jugha to Iran, he ruined
the town, but did not destroy the cemetery."
Destruction of Armenian cemeteries on Azeri soil
was stopped by UNESCO in 1998.
"But since October 2002 that issue has again
become uncontrollable for Azerbaijan and the whole
cemetery was simply destroyed," says Ashot
Galoyan, member of the Foreign Affairs Commission
of the National Assembly.
"In December, when the alarm of Iraqi war
was in the center of attention, Azerbaijan managed
to completely ruin the cemetery and move khachkars
away from that territory. The khachkars were so
heavy that ordinary villagers were not able to
carry them out," says Hakhnazaryan.
Galoyan a member of Armenian National Assembly
expresses his anxiety about the cemetery in
The Old Jugha khachkars were mostly elongated
and a height of about two and a half meters. Several
thousand stood in the centuries old cemetery.
During Soviet times some were destroyed, but
in the past several months the systematic destruction
has been seen as methodical vandalism by concerned
Armenians whose efforts now may be too late.
A seminar, "Old Jugha Lost Treasures",
was held at the National Academy of Science March
28 from which a statement was issued calling on
help from international agencies.
And at the last session of the Council of Europe
on April 4 a heated exchange took place between
Armenian and Azeri representatives over the issue.
The Azeri side accused Armenia of raising the
issue of monuments as part of its efforts to take
territory that belongs to Azerbaijan.
The result of the discussion was that a committee
member has been assigned to go to Nakhijevan and
prepare a report for the Council's general meeting,
scheduled for later this year.