PARIS — Just hours before the opening of an exhibit on Armenian stone crosses (Khachkars) at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Armenian delegation was thrown into a panic when organizers started to remove all place names and informational map, as well as a photo of the Armenian cemetery in Jougha after the stone crosses had been destroyed by the Azerbaijani government.
The hall was packed with invited guests to participate in the opening ceremony of the exhibit billed as “Art of the Stone Cross – Armenian Holy Stones”.
According to Arev Samvelyan, RA Deputy Minister of Culture, the UNESCO officials not only found any mention of Armenian crosses in Turkey and Azerbaijan objectionable but references to crosses in Karabakh as well.
The Armenian delegation gave in on the Jougha issue but insisted on keeping the photo of the Armenian cemetery before the destruction of hundreds of stone crosses.
In response, UNESCO staffers removed the organization’s official flag from the exhibit hall and didn’t show for the opening ceremony, claiming that they were otherwise engaged.
Commenting on the last minute flap, art historian Patrick Donabedian said, “I just want to underline that today UNESCO is far removed from fulfilling its stated mission. They wanted to remove my exhibit just because the word Jougha was in the text.”
The Armenian organizations of France and Switzerland vigorously protested against cultural denial.

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