'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 – an exquisite tenor voice filling the small domed house as participants of the congregation wipe away tears.

In all probability they have got misplaced family members on this conflict. In all probability they grieve their country’s defeat.

In all probability it’s grief that this holy position for Armenian Christians will go into Azerbaijani fingers on Wednesday.

Dadivank monastery  will pass into Azerbaijani hands on Wednesday
Azerbaijan has promised that Armenian Christians may have persisted get admission to to Dadivank

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

“It’s our heritage and we will have to take care of and give protection to it,” says Sona Khachaturyan who has come to seek advice from from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

“Sadly it’s going to turn out 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 likely be supplied with persisted get admission to to Dadivank and different non secular websites in territories that may quickly be theirs.

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

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

“The Ottoman Turks promised that the entirety could be k but if the Younger Turks got here to energy they began the Armenian genocide.

“There have been a large number of guarantees made by way of 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 is able to 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 worry and the language of cultural genocide is reappearing.

Bishop Hovhannes Hovhannisyan
Sunday’s Holy Mass carrier was once the ultimate ahead of 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 conflict, Armenia is squeezed once more.

Those historical websites despite the fact that are spectacular for his or her resilience. All over Soviet occasions when Kalbajar was once in Azerbaijani fingers, locals saved their farm animals within the Dadivank monastery.

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

The Dadivank monastery will pass into Azerbaijani hands on Wednesday

We come to a decision to seek advice from the 4th century monastery complicated at Amaras.

It’s nonetheless below Armenian regulate however is positioned within the south japanese nook of Nagorno-Karabakh the place Azerbaijan has recaptured a large number of territory. It’s remoted and precarious.

The little white church at its centre is surrounded by way of thick, fortified partitions. When Jap Armenia was once below Russian regulate within the 19th century, Amaras was once a frontier castle.

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 consume with them within the fortified partitions. There is not any electrical energy so we consume by way of the sunshine of our cell phones.

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

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

The Russian peacekeepers have an preliminary mandate of 5 years however that may possibly be prolonged.

In spite of their presence, either side will wish to stay their trenches manned. As this warfare re-freezes, this type of army effort is had to deal with the brand new establishment.

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