‘War trophies park’ in Baku sparks controversy domestically and abroad
A park with military trophies seized during the second Karabakh war is now open in Baku and is already attracting a lot of attention both domestically and abroad. The reaction toward the opening of the park turned out to be radically diverse, ranging from complete approval to categorical condemnation of it.
Along with the military equipment, this “open-air museum” displays wax mannequins of Armenian soldiers placed in makeshift barracks and cars. Some of the figures show wounded and dying soldiers.
One of the expositions is created in the form of a corridor with helmets of Armenian soldiers hanging on both sides. Hundreds of helmets that are currently on display in the park of war trophies were supposedly lost by the Armenian troops while they were retreating.
The opening ceremony was attended by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Nobel Avenue where the park of war trophies is now located was renamed and is now called November 8 Avenue. This date has been declared a Victory Day in Azerbaijan.
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In addition to wax mannequins and installations, small arms, heavy equipment, missile systems, military vehicles, and ammunition abandoned by the Armenian military are exhibited in the park.
There is also a shield made out of license plates of more than 2,000 cars that were seized as trophies during the second Karabakh war.
The fragments of the Iskander-M missile launched by the Armenian military at the city of Shusha in Karabakh are on display in Baku.
The lower part of the benches installed in the park is made of ammunition boxes that were seized as trophies. The lighting system in the park is made of molten shells, and the urns are made of tank shell cases.
On top of that, one area of the park is highlighted to show the defensive position of the Armenian army, as well as a system of engineering barrage obstacles.
Reaction in Azerbaijan
Judging by the comments on social media, the absolute majority of the Azerbaijani society was very enthusiastic about the opening of the park in Baku.
Typical Facebook comments share similar sentiments to the one below:
“The first museum I visited abroad was the Auschwitz concentration camp. What I saw there made an indelible impression on me. I also visited other museums of military history – in San Diego, London, Belfast. I look forward to visiting our museum. Let’s see what is is like in there”.
Expert commentary and outrage
But not everyone was as pleased about the opening of the park. Commenting on the photo of the helmet corridor, famous historian Altai Geyushov wrote:
They probably wanted to build a mountain, a wall made of the skulls of the enemies. I am now waiting for ambassadors to be taken there to be lectured about building peace in the Caucasus region.
After the publication of this post, some well-known journalists and bloggers condemned Geyushov. The most common comments read:
“We won the war, built a museum. And now these people suddenly fell in love with Armenian helmets. It is a good thing that we are demonstrating empty helmets!”
“The war trophies’ park is a stake in the eyes of enemies, both foreign and domestic. Winners are not judged. If someone feels bad, drown yourself in the Caspian”.
“People who have never visited military museums in their lives are very surprised. All over the world, these museums exhibit both fake soldiers and helmets”.
The reaction of Western journalists and the Armenian Foreign Ministry
Several Western journalists have already condemned the opening of the park of war trophies. Here is a comment written by Neil Hauer, contributor to CNN and the Guardian on Twitter:
“Basically this is example #364,486 from the postwar period alone why it’s just foolish to think there will ever be Armenian-Azerbaijan reconciliation while Aliyev is in power”.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned the project of the War Trophy Park:
“This action is aimed at publically degrading the memory of the victims of the war, missing persons and prisoners of war, and violating the rights and dignity of their families. […] The misanthropic behavior of the top leadership of Azerbaijan is more eloquent than any statement or PR campaign about peace, tolerance, and multiculturalism”, reads the official statement of the Ministry released on April 13.
The first foreign guests of the museum
On April 13, Baku hosted an international conference entitled “A new outlook at the South Caucasus: Post-Conflict Development and Cooperation”. After the conference, 27 guests from 15 countries visited the newly open park of war trophies.
Starting from April 14, everyone will be able to visit the park.