Tufenkian Foundation Unveils New Kashatagh Initiative


Asbarez Staff
Sep 23rd, 2009

KASHATAGH, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic-In a recent day of celebration,
residents of this small, remote village joined political dignitaries
and members of the international community to mark the re-opening of
Hak’s historic St. Minas Church. The church blessing was combined with
the unveiling of a new drinking water supply for the village, making
the ceremony a momentous occasion reaffirming Armenians’ commitment
to restore and protect their ancient heritage in this war-torn enclave.

The afternoon began with the below-pictured blessing of the church
by Archbishop Pargev Martirosian, Primate of the Artsakh Diocese
of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Arch. Martirosian emphasized the
importance of reopening St. Minas and other churches like it, calling
them "a symbol of the continuation of the Armenian Christian faith
on these lands."

Hak village sits in a remote corner of Kashatagh (formerly Lachin),
the strategically vital area connecting Karabagh with Armenia. With
a continuous Armenian presence dating back to the 12th century,
Hak was ethnically cleansed of Armenians by Azeri forces in 1918,
only to be reclaimed in 1992 during Armenians’ victorious struggle
for self-determination. Since then, Azerbaijan has repeatedly claimed
the Kashatagh region for itself; however, the presence of Armenian
churches, cemeteries, and other monuments-some dating as far as back
as the 4th century-refute these claims and reaffirm the case for
Armenian sovereignty over these lands.

The Hak village project is the latest initiative of the New York-based
Tufenkian Foundation. Through a range of social and economic projects,
the Foundation has fostered the development and resettlement of
Kashatagh since the war. In parallel, the Foundation is working to
restore and preserve the Armenian monuments found throughout this
land. Ms. Virginia Davies of New York City tendered the generous
support that allowed the Foundation to restore St. Minas Church
and establish Hak’s water supply. Having flown in especially for the
ceremony, Davies spoke boldly and proudly about the project, which she
has dedicated in loving memory of her grandmother, Virgine Mouradian,
a survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

"This is only the beginning," Davies said. "After Hak, we will
start projects in the next two villages – Mirig and Hochants." Those
projects, like the work in Hak, will consist of restoring ancient
churches that had been desecrated by Azerbaijan, alongside development
and infrastructure projects for the current resettlers there. "After
these two villages, there will be another two, and it will go on for
the entire area."

Also addressing the gathering was Tufenkian Foundation Country Director
Mary Matosian. "Today, we constantly hear of protocols, speeches,
and statements on the status of Karabakh," she said, referring to
Turkey’s recent demands that Karabakh be ceded to Azerbaijan. "It is
vital that we bring to world attention that these are not so-called
‘occupied territories,’ but liberated Armenian lands. Today we stand
shoulder-to-shoulder-Karabakh government, Diaspora Armenians, and
Hak villagers-in support of rebuilding Kashatagh and bringing forth
its Armenian heritage, which was unjustly taken away by Azerbaijan
and must now be restored."

Numerous dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic President Bako Sahakyan, National Assembly Chairman Ashot
Ghulyan, Armenia’s former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian,
representatives of numerous political parties and NGOs, and other
former ministers including Davit Lokyan and Levon Lazarian


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