Armenian fears of a new genocide were put on hold following the fall of Shusha, the crown jewel of Nagorno-Karabakh, high in the Caucasus Mountains. Last November, Azerbaijani forces captured the city—known to Armenians as Shushi—after which a ceasefire ended the military hostilities.
But not the cultural.
Last month, satellite imagery allegedly revealed the destruction of Shusha’s Armenian Genocide Memorial. Constructed in 2009, it leaves a bitter taste during this year’s April 24 remembrance of the 1.5 million lives lost when Turks expelled Armenians from their homes a century ago.
President Joe Biden may recognize the atrocity by stating the word genocide in his commemorative speech.
But the horrors witnessed in Turkey reached also to Shusha, where Azerbaijanis massacred the local Armenian population.
“As in 1915, the Turco-Azeris are committing not only a human genocide against the Armenians, but also a cultural genocide,” said Rene Leonian, president of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in Eurasia.
“Unfortunately, nations and international organizations are too passive to firmly condemn these abuses.”
They can now add the case of the disappearing church.
Following the war, video footage emerged of an Azerbaijani soldier shouting “Allahu Akbar” from the rooftop of the Holy Mother of God church in the town of Jabrayil.
In search of the simple stone-built chapel, the BBC discovered no trace whatsoever.
The escorting policeman first said it was destroyed in the war. He then changed his story saying the Armenians dismantled it before they left.
Presidential advisor Hikmat Hajiyev told the BBC the matter would be investigated, but then shifted the discussion to the nearly 30-year Armenian occupation.
It was not wholly inappropriate. The church in question was built on a military base, after Armenia seized the disputed Caucasus enclave during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1993. Jabrayil became…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on April 23, 2021. Please click here to read the full text.