UNESCO Should Dismiss Mrs․ Mehriban Aliyeva From Her Title Of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

By Vic Gerami

Mehriban Aliyeva

On November 8th, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva made a public statement directly contradicting the core values of her mission, showing her continuous support for military solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, calling the negotiations aimed for peaceful resolution of the conflict “meaningless”. In particular, she wrote: “I have said many times that, despite all the statements, there are military solutions to this conflict – the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and today we are proving it on the battlefield. Nearly 30 years of meaningless negotiations did not bring us to any conclusion.”

The First Vice-President of Azerbaijan, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva – representative of one of the most corrupt, violent, and oppressive regimes of our times, should not remain a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, as a politician who bears full responsibility for countless human rights violations, encouragement and implementation of the hate policy against Armenians on the state level, as well as for the numerous war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani leadership against Armenians․

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors are an outstanding group of celebrity advocates, spreading the ideals of UNESCO through their name and fame and making an important contribution towards the organization’s objectives: building peace through international cooperation in Education, Sciences, Culture, Communication, and Information. Thus, cases of engagement of a Goodwill Ambassador in activities incompatible with their status or with the purposes and principles of the organization, must be assessed accordingly, resulting in an immediate termination of the Ambassador’s designation.

It is inconceivable that the honorary position conferred by the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador be awarded to the First Vice-President of a state which not only stands out for its miserable position in the ranking for Press Freedom (168th – Reporters Without Borders Index, 2019) and Human Freedom (126th – Amnesty International Ranks), but for the Armenophobia indoctrinated on the state level during the ruling of the Aliyev family and the continuous crimes committed by Azerbaijan against the Armenian people and cultural heritage in Artsakh and in the territories currently under Azerbaijani jurisdiction. Furthermore, the international crimes and corruption of the Aliyev family is well documented.

Since the beginning of the recent war unleashed by Azerbaijan against the peaceful people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Armenia on the 27th of September, Azerbaijani armed forces have been deliberately deploying artillery, missiles, military aviation against peaceful civilians in more than 130 cities and villages of Artsakh, including the capital city of Stepanakert, using internationally banned cluster bombs, as well as phosphorus munitions, which are undeniable war crimes themselves.

Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral

On October 8, Azerbaijan launched two intentional airstrikes on the masterpiece of Armenian architecture – the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, located in the cultural capital of Artsakh, Shushi, causing significant damages. This horrifying news was presented in the Azerbaijani media as a heroic act and acknowledged so by President Aliyev.

Other major sites of cultural heritage have been targeted and damaged severely, including the Gohar Mosque of Shushi, buildings of the Cultural Center and the National Gallery of Shushi, Tigranakert archaeological site (1st century BC).These acts inarguably are the continuation of the genocidal policy of Azerbaijan against Armenian culture, earlier manifested itself in the destruction of the valley of medieval cross-stones in Nakhijevan.

Following the shelling of Martakert hospital, the Maternity hospital of Stepanakert was attacked on October 28th, heavily damaging the civilian infrastructure.

Tigranakert Archaeological Site (1st Century BC)

Over 60 schools have been deliberately shelled and destroyed, along with numerous other educational institutions. Targeting students, teachers, and institutions in gross violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law is unacceptable under any circumstances and should be strongly condemned. Attacks do not just destroy the school buildings, but the hopes and ambitions of a whole generation of children, depriving them of their right for education and a prosperous future.

These outrageous crimes committed against the civilian population of Artsakh have already resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe causing 50 cases of casualties, thousand cases of injuries, and displacement of almost 60% of the peaceful population.

These crimes are committed amid a surging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing a vulnerable population into crowded, poorly ventilated basements to shelter from the bombing. This has resulted in extremely high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Artsakh and Armenia, applying overwhelming pressure on the healthcare system struggling to serve the COVID-19 patients and the wounded soldiers and civilians at the same time.

President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev

Moreover, it has been confirmed from several official sources that Turkey is providing military support to the government of Azerbaijan in this war deploying infamous Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan and thus threatening the entire region with further destabilization. A government allying with mercenaries, whose disastrous actions towards the civilians and cultural heritage in the Middle East speak for themselves, can in no way stand in line with an organization protecting the people and culture of the world from the terror of the same groups. Many horrifying cases of war crimes committed against the Armenian POWs and captured civilians have already been reported by international media outlets.

The blatant disregard of Azerbaijan’s leadership for human rights does not honor Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice-President of the country, UNESCO title of the Goodwill Ambassador. Furthermore, the hate speech towards Armenians coming from her husband and president of Azerbaijan provokes active intentions to exterminate ethnic Armenians and any trace of their cultural heritage from the region among the Azerbaijani society.

Since the recent ceasefire established on November 10th, Azerbaijani forces have committed acts of vandalism against the Armenian Christian cultural heritage sites located in the areas captured by Azerbaijan, including destructions of cross-stones monuments, attacks on churches, proudly filmed and shared on social media.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Genocide Watch have identified genocidal intent in the actions of Azerbaijan considering it “to be at Stage 9: Extermination and Stage 10: Denial.”

The leadership of Azerbaijan must be kept accountable for all the violence, human rights violations, cultural terrorism, and war crimes committed against the Armenian people of Artsakh and Armenia. UNESCO should stay committed to its mission and act upon the condemnation and punishment of the criminal actions of the leadership of Azerbaijan. Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva should be dismissed from her title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

For more information about Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and its history, please see this FAQ