World News

Azerbaijan destroys Armenian church and village

St. John the Baptist Church has been destroyed in the town of Shusi, along with the entire village of Karintak.

Armenians built the church – which was also known as St. Hovhannes Mkrtich or Kanach Zham (the green chapel) – in 1847. Satellite images published by Caucasus Heritage Watch – an investigative institution backed by Cornell University – show debris of the building from April 2024. Researchers have come to the conclusion that Azerbaijan must have destroyed the village and the church to build a new settlement for their own people. 

Last December Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited the building site of the new mosque in Karintak, called Dashalti in Azeri, which is scheduled to be finished in the second half of this year. 

The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom has added Azerbaijan to its Countries of Particular Concern list. According to Commissioner Stephen Schneck: “USCIRF documented a significant and alarming increase in the number of prisoners arrested on the basis of religion or belief in Azerbaijan in the year. In addition, authorities are regularly accused of torturing or threatening sexual violence to illicit false confessions from detainees with those perpetrating such violence facing no accountability.”

Azerbaijan is a small country situated between Russia and Iran, with a majority Muslim population. It has a long history of persecuting religious minorities, especially ethnic Armenian Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. President Ilham Aliyev’s regime has provoked public hatred for the ancient community of Armenian Christians. Hostility inflamed when the Azerbaijani military blockaded and forcibly took over the Armenian-majority district of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023. An estimated number of 120,000 ethnic Armenians fled their homes to neighbouring Armenia being terrified of genocide.

The ethnic cleansing of the region is a serious concern, as the military has also destroyed several Christian buildings and monuments, some of them dating back to the Middle Ages.


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