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'I don't want to say goodbye': Armenian monastery guarded by military set to pass to Azerbaijan

The Cathedral Church on the Dadivank monastery is packed.

The Armenian chant, or sharakan, used all the way through Holy Mass sounds particularly depression this Sunday – a good looking tenor voice filling the small domed house as individuals of the congregation wipe away tears.

Possibly they have got misplaced family members on this battle. Possibly they grieve their country’s defeat.

Possibly it’s grief that this holy position for Armenian Christians will move into Azerbaijani palms on Wednesday.

Dadivank monastery  will pass into Azerbaijani hands on Wednesday
Azerbaijan has promised that Armenian Christians could have persevered get right of entry to to Dadivank

That is the closing Sunday when the medieval monastic complicated at Dadivank stays de facto theirs.

“It’s our heritage and we must take care of and offer protection to it,” says Sona Khachaturyan who has come to talk over with from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

“Sadly it is going to grow to be a part of Azerbaijan. It is painful however I do not need to say good-bye as a result of I am certain I will be again.”

The Russian tricolour flag flies on the front to the monastery complicated.

A Russian tank sits within the courtyard, barrel pointing on the oncoming site visitors.

A Russian tank sits in the courtyard at Dadivank monastery
A Russian tank sits within the courtyard at Dadivank monastery

Azerbaijan has promised that Armenian Christians will probably be supplied with persevered get right of entry to to Dadivank and different non secular websites in territories that can quickly be theirs.

The Russians are right here to verify they preserve their phrase.

“Azerbaijanis aren’t Turks however they behave like them,” says Father Shmavan, who got here from Yerevan to lend a hand officiate the carrier.

“The Ottoman Turks promised that the whole thing can be ok but if the Younger Turks got here to energy they began the Armenian genocide.

“There have been numerous guarantees made through the Aliyev dynasty beginning with Heydar and completing with Ilham Aliyev, however they do not stay their guarantees.”

Bishop Hovhannes Hovhannisyan presides over Holy Mass at Dadivank Cathedral Church
Bishop Hovhannes Hovhannisyan presides over Holy Mass at Dadivank Cathedral Church

The deportation and mass killing of round 1.five million ethnic Armenians because the Ottoman Empire collapsed is a wound which can by no means heal for Armenians and the massive Armenian diaspora.

It was once the bogeyman in Top Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wartime rhetoric.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are the one two states which nonetheless refuse to recognise the genocide.

No marvel Father Shmavan has little religion of their guarantees.

Now the concern and the language of cultural genocide is reappearing.

Bishop Hovhannes Hovhannisyan
Sunday’s Holy Mass carrier was once the closing earlier than the monastery turns into a part of Azerbaijan

A lot of Armenia’s cultural heritage was once destroyed when Western Armenia was once absorbed into Turkey within the first a part of the 20th century.

With the territorial losses incurred because of this battle, Armenia is squeezed once more.

Those historical websites regardless that are spectacular for his or her resilience. All the way through Soviet occasions when Kalbajar was once in Azerbaijani palms, locals stored their farm animals within the Dadivank monastery.

The layer of soot from the fires they burnt helped maintain the 12th century frescoes beneath which have been simplest published all the way through renovations within the early 1990s.

The Dadivank monastery will pass into Azerbaijani hands on Wednesday

We make a decision to talk over with the 4th century monastery complicated at Amaras.

It’s nonetheless underneath Armenian keep watch over however is positioned within the south japanese nook of Nagorno-Karabakh the place Azerbaijan has recaptured numerous territory. It’s remoted and precarious.

The little white church at its centre is surrounded through thick, fortified partitions. When Jap Armenia was once underneath Russian keep watch over within the 19th century, Amaras was once a frontier citadel.

Now once more this can be a militarised zone. The Azerbaijani positions are 3 kilometres away, on the best of the hill at the horizon.

The Russian flag flies over the ramparts however an Armenian unit is stationed right here for now. The doorway is thru a hollow within the wall.

An Armenian military unit is stationed at the 4th century monastery complex at Amaras
An Armenian army unit is stationed on the monastery

The warriors have barbecued a pig and invite us to devour with them throughout the fortified partitions. There’s no electrical energy so we devour through the sunshine of our cellphones.

“It’s unexpected that you just see me consuming at a desk as a result of all my pals are nonetheless within the trenches,” says Artak Hovhannesyan.

“In the event you stand at this monastery and glance proper, left and in the back of the trenches are nonetheless complete.”

The Russian peacekeepers have an preliminary mandate of 5 years however that can perhaps be prolonged.

Regardless of their presence, all sides will want to stay their trenches manned. As this war re-freezes, this sort of army effort is had to care for the brand new establishment.

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