Azerbaijanis have been reported to have destroyed a monument and khachkar dedicated to the Artsakh Liberation War in the village of Ukhtadzor in the Hadrut region. This act of destruction was reported by by monumentwatch.org, an organization that monitors and advocates for the protection of cultural heritage in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
According to the organization, a video shared on a Telegram channel on September 7, 2023, provided clear evidence of ongoing destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in the Hadrut region, which is now under Azerbaijani control. The video showed the deliberate destruction of the monument dedicated to the Artsakh Liberation War in Ukhtadzor village, with parts of the monument smashed. Additionally, it was noted that in 2021, a khachkar, also part of the cultural complex, was destroyed as a result of Azerbaijani vandalism.
These actions, which are part of a broader pattern, highlight that the destruction of cultural heritage appears to be a deliberate strategy employed by Azerbaijan. Such actions are not only detrimental to the cultural rights of the affected community but also violate international humanitarian law.
International law, including Article 8 of the International Criminal Court and the 2003 UNESCO "Declaration on Deliberate Destruction of Cultural Heritage," prohibit the deliberate targeting and destruction of cultural heritage, particularly in occupied territories during or after armed conflicts. Furthermore, Article 9 of the Second Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict specifically prohibits the destruction of cultural property in areas under enemy control.
The destruction of cultural heritage in Ukhtadzor village is a matter of grave concern and underscores the importance of protecting and preserving cultural sites in conflict-affected regions.