Wisps of smoke rise into the valley’s autumn sky. Charektar is burning. On the eve of the arrival of Azerbaijani troops, the inhabitants of this village near Nagorno Karabakh would rather burn their houses than abandon them to the hated neighbor. “It’s the last day, tomorrow the Azerbaijani soldiers will be there.” Throat tight, the man ties an old gasoline-soaked sweater to the end of a wooden pole, lights it, and throws it all on the floor. “This is my house, I cannot leave it to the Turks”, as the Armenians often call the Azerbaijanis.
“Everyone is burning their house today […] We were given until midnight to leave “, he blurted out, before getting back into his jeep, without looking behind him.
A peace agreement signed earlier this week between Yerevan and Baku under the aegis of Moscow ended nearly seven weeks of intense fighting in Nagorno Karabakh, a mountainous enclave disputed for decades between these two Caucasian countries.
At the end of this text, which enshrines a humiliating defeat for Armenia, Azerbaijan recaptures large territories under Armenian control since a first war in the early 1990s.
Charektar is one of the main inhabited areas, and undoubtedly more than half of the houses in the village, for many modest peasant huts, have been set on fire in the last 24 hours by their owners on departure.