Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The Armenian Genocide Museum defines cultural genocide as “acts and measures undertaken to destroy nations’ or ethnic groups’ culture through spiritual, national, and cultural destruction.
The concept of cultural genocide was not included in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
In 1912-1913 the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul presented an account of the churches and monasteries in Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and in the Ottoman Empire. More than 2300 were accounted for including the early unique Christian monuments of IV-V centuries. But most of them were looted, burned and destroyed during the genocide.
In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of complete repair.
Armenian architectural buildings are consistently being demolished with dynamite explosions and used as targets during Turkish military training exercises; the undamaged stones are also used as construction materials. In some rural places, Armenian monasteries and churches serve as stables, stores, clubs and in once case, even a jail. On many occasions the Turkish government converted Armenian churches into mosques.
On June 18, 1987 the Council of Europe adopted a Decree demanding from the Turkish government to pay attention to and take care of the Armenian language, culture and educational system of the Armenian Diaspora living in Turkey, also demanding an appropriate regard to the Armenian historical monuments that are in modern Turkey’s territory.
Horomos Monastery, 10th-11th centuries.
Sourb Prkich (Holy Saviour) Church of Ani, 11th century