Armenians set fire to homes before handing village over to Azerbaijan

Published November 14, 2020
A man reacts as he stands near a house set on fire by departing ethnic Armenians, in an area which was held under their military control but is soon to be turned over to Azerbaijan, in the village of Cherektar in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 14. — Reuters
A man reacts as he stands near a house set on fire by departing ethnic Armenians, in an area which was held under their military control but is soon to be turned over to Azerbaijan, in the village of Cherektar in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 14. — Reuters
Residents hug as they stand near a house set on fire by departing ethnic Armenians in the village of Cherektar in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 14. — Reuters
Residents hug as they stand near a house set on fire by departing ethnic Armenians in the village of Cherektar in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 14. — Reuters

Still wearing the camouflage fatigues in which he had fought against Azeri forces a week earlier, Arsen, an ethnic Armenian, lit a fire on Saturday under his sister's dining room table in the small village of Charektar.

As the flames took hold with the help of strips of cardboard, he used a wooden chair to smash the low-slung one-storey house's windows and bedsheets to try to spread the blaze, which soon consumed the whole house.

“They will already be here tomorrow morning. The Azeris. Screw them. Let them live here, if they can,” he said, as the fire got going.

Next door, grey smoke was rising from what was left of his own house.

Armenians are resorting to a scorched earth policy as the clock ticks down to a handover of territory to Azerbaijan under a Russia-brokered peace deal that followed six weeks of fighting between ethnic Armenian forces and Azeri troops over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

Nestled in the mountains, Charektar is a small village in the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but has been controlled by ethnic Armenians since a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s. On Sunday, the Azeris will return and take back control of the area.

Arsen, 35, who declined to give his surname, said he and other ethnic Armenians had no desire to leave anything useful for the Azeris.

“They will have to build their own houses from scratch,” he said.

Reuters reporters saw six houses, around half the village, on fire in Charektar on Saturday.

One man, who refused to give his name, said Armenians were carting off everything they could as trucks nearby loaded up with household possessions.

Tears and fears

Some residents of Armenia visited the area on Saturday to see it, possibly for the last time, and witness the village's burning. One Armenian woman was in tears as she watched.

Arsen said he'd learnt of the peace deal from other fighters.

“They called me and said: Go home and take everything you have. They (the Azeris) should enter the region by the fifteenth [of November],” he recalled.

He and his wife planned to go with their four children to Armenia and rent a flat there, he said.

Asked why he and other villagers were afraid to stay, he said they feared the Azeris would kill them. “Have you ever seen Armenians and the Azeris living together?” he said.

“We are leaving all the gravestones [of our relatives] here. Nightmare is not the right word for it.”

Opinion

Are we failures?
27 Feb 2021

Are we failures?

Third World leaders emulated their erstwhile oppressors...
Rage of Caliban
27 Feb 2021

Rage of Caliban

Lawyers have shown that the fraternity abides by tribalistic values...
Combating pollution
26 Feb 2021

Combating pollution

Air quality is at hazardous levels, and a more robust policy response is needed.

Editorial

LoC ceasefire
Updated 27 Feb 2021

LoC ceasefire

THE Pakistan-India relationship is known for its complexity and bitterness, but there are times when surprises of a...
27 Feb 2021

Null and void

HAD people not lost their lives, the ham-fisted attempt at rigging the Daska by-election on Feb 19 could have been...
27 Feb 2021

Minister’s non-appearance

FEDERAL Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda’s continued absence from the Election Commission’s hearing on the...
Terrorist’s escape
Updated 26 Feb 2021

Terrorist’s escape

It is not clear how many military personnel were involved in this incident and what the investigation into their actions revealed.
26 Feb 2021

Penalising filers

THE FBR has decided to penalise taxpayers filing their returns late. Apparently, these filers will be required to ...
26 Feb 2021

Corporal punishment

FOR a child born in our society, the cycle of violence begins early. The first taste of violence often comes at the...