Editorial. After the “Armenia: Clash of Civilizations” documentary film , shot in November last year, Stepan Simon, co-founder of Front Populaire, gives you information that, unfortunately, you will not read or hear anywhere else. In conditions of international silence, Armenian buildings and churches in Artsakh, which was recently conquered by Azerbaijan, are now being destroyed. As in Afghanistan, where we remember the fate of the Bamiyam buddhas, it was dynamited. There is a struggle for memory and honor in Armenia, warns Stefan Simon.
Posted on March 18, 2021
The news from Armenia, in particular from the autonomous territory of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), is not good. We had warned. We had filmed the horror and determination of Azerbaijan aimed at destroying the Armenians of Artsakh. That was in November. With Michel Onfray, and while some people wondered what we were going to do 4,500 kilometres from Paris, in the pandemic, we repeated that a clash of civilisations was taking place there, which is not free from the events happening in Europe, in particular in France.
Emmanuel Macron’s France, unable to involve Germany and its Turkish minority, that support the Azeris in this new genocidal enterprise, has allowed the massacre of our eastern cousins from Armenia, this marvellous people, the true eldest son of the Church – since they were the first people of the Roman Empire to convert to Christianity, in 301. We saw there an army of villagers facing an Azeri army reinforced by Turkish support and its generals, boosted by Israeli drones, we returned from this territory so far away, but so close at the same time, with broken hearts which shares the same civilisational heritage with us.
We saw smoking or ruined houses, that Armenians abandoned, and marvellous churches of the early Middle Ages, testimonies of the Judeo-Christian vitality in these ancient lands. We witnessed what was happening there and the new genocide that is being committed quietly.
Putin, who has deployed an interposition force in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) stopped the Turkish-Azerbijani army, with its batches of mercenaries from the ranks of ISIL, after 45 days of massacres. The Russian president took the opportunity to strengthen his presence in the region – a presence that had been fraying since Nikol Pashinyan came to power, a man determined to put an end to the corruption inherited from the years of Soviet domination.
It is now March and while the guns were temporarily silent, Azerbaijan hadn’t yet quenched its thirst for revenge. The men of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev are using the Kärcher to eradicate the slightest trace of the Armenian spirit and its presence on the conquered territories (about 70% of autonomous Artsakh). After expelling the last Armenian hostages, they are now engaged in a huge cultural cleansing process.
Aliyev’s men are now attacking ancient churches. One of them, Kanach Zham in Shushi, has been razed to the ground, as shown in the satellite image below, and the others are to be transformed from their medieval Armenian inscriptions.
It is the battle of memory that is now being fought. Inscriptions carved deep into the stone in the Middle Ages (often framing the “xachqars”) with the Armenian alphabet, invented in 410, are being chiselled away. All cultural traces presenting the Armenian presence in this region are to disappear in favour of a state fable that would make any connoisseur of history laugh. They would be Albanian churches (sic) that the Armenians would have arrogated to themselves recently and that should now be “cleaned” from their impurity. The sad ignorant Ilham Aliyev, despot of his people, sitting on the wealth he gets from the sale of hydrocarbons, is playing at destroying, like all dictators before him, the memory of humanity. Just as the Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed and ruined the Bamiyan Buddhas. This way for a Muslim people to destroy the other, to transform even its history, is the strongest challenge to what should be the universal conscience.
What is the European Union doing? Nothing (and we regretted it). What is the UN doing? Nothing. What is UNESCO doing? Nothing, and even worse: the latter honorable institution has accepted envelopes from Mrs Aliyev, now reputed to be the ‘‘benefactor of UNESCO’’. In exchange, UNESCO is no longer allowed to send a delegation to “Albanian” lands until the cultural cleansing is complete. Yes, Western dishonour is definitely working in this part of the world.