Armenians Burn Their Homes Before they Hand Over to Azerbaijan

Houses in an Armenian village set on fire. Credit: @me1eyke/Twitter

As Armenia hands over territory to Azerbaijan on Sunday, under a Russia-brokered peace deal that followed six weeks of fighting, many villagers in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh burned their own homes.

Pictures from the village of of Charektar, that will be handed over to the Azeris, show Armenian residents setting fire to their property before they become refugees in their own country.

Credit: @me1eyke/Twitter

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

It is internationally recognized 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.

Armenia said Saturday that 2,317 of its fighters were killed in the clashes, an increase of nearly 1,000 deaths from its previous official toll. Azerbaijan has not revealed its military casualties.

In Armenia, anger has been mounting over the prime minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to cede swathes of territory.

The former head of Armenia’s national security service, Artur Vanetsyan, was arrested on Saturday on charges of plotting to kill Pashinyan and seize power.

Vanetsyan’s lawyers described the arrest as a “shameful persecution of opponents”.

Thousands of people converged on the streets of the capital Yerevan in demonstrations this week, while protesters stormed and ransacked government buildings, demanding Pashinyan’s resignation.

On Saturday, crowds gathered on Yerevan’s Liberty Square, where they lit candles in memory of soldiers killed in the fighting.

They then marched silently through the streets towards the Matenadaran museum of ancient manuscripts where priests held a requiem service.