Nagorno-Karabakh: Ethnic Armenians set fire to their homes rather than hand them to Azerbaijan

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By Anelise Borges  & Euronews
A resident in the town of Karvachar watches his home burn after setting it on fire
A resident in the town of Karvachar watches his home burn after setting it on fire   -  Copyright  Euronews

In the town of Karvachar in Nagorno-Karabakh, Vahe Mkrtchyan watched his home burn down.

He set fire to it himself after learning that it now lies in a region ceded to Azerbaijan in a ceasefire brokered by Russia to end recent hostilities with Armenia.

“I don’t want to leave something for terrorists - who killed my brothers and sisters and who stole my home from me," Vahe told Euronews.

Other ethnic-Armenian residents in the town did the same thing, taking what belongings they could manage then setting fire to their own homes rather than hand them over to Azerbaijan.

On November 9, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to cease armed hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh the following day.

As part of the settlement, Azerbaijan gained control over several territories that include the town of Karvachar.

A 13th-century monastery, sacred for Armenians, is also to be handed over as part of the deal.

For residents of the region, destruction and loss are things they are too familiar with. It was the site of a bloody war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 1990s.

At the time, Armenians expelled Azeris from land they claimed as theirs, embarking on a cycle of violence that had continued ever since.

Hayrapet Margaryan, a resident of the Armenian capital Yerevan, is a veteran of the violence in the 90s.

For him, the accord may have stopped the war, but will not be enough to bring about peace.

“For peace, we need to have justice," Hayrapet told Euronews. "We live in the 21st century and as Europe talks about justice, honesty and humanism all the time, we also need it here. Only with justice, will people be able to live in peace.”

Watch Anelise Borges' report in the video player above.