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On September 9-10, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin hosted a two-day international conference on International Religious Freedom and Peace. Conference participants included religious leaders, public figures, scientists, and experts, who discussed contemporary issues of religious freedom and the threat of cultural genocide in Artsakh.  

Save Armenian Monuments (SAM), an initiative of the Eastern Prelacy, partnered with the organizers of the conference. SAM’s Founder and President Dr. Virginia Davies spoke during the concluding panel on the conference, while SAM Executive Director Simon Maghakyan presented his academic research on cultural destruction. SAM Board members Prof. Heghnar Watenpaugh and Prof. Christina Maranci also presented their academic research remotely.  

Other conference speakers included Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II, Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Artsakh Davit Babayan, leaders of the World Council of Churches, Conference of European Churches, and National Council of Churches (USA), as well as representatives from Assyrian, Coptic, Greek, Malankara (India), Roman Catholic, Russian, and Syriac churches.  

At the end of the conference, the participants issued a joint statement on the need to preserve and protect religious freedom everywhere, especially Artsakh.  

Following the conference, a closed strategy session initiated and co-moderated by SAM was held at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, in Yerevan. Participants included a variety of national and local cultural heritage stakeholder organizations. Future strategic meetings will reconvene online to develop evaluation metrics for assessing the measurable impact of cultural preservation efforts.  

Founded in 2020, Save Armenian Monuments LLC, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and subsidiary of the Eastern Prelacy, pursues the sustained safeguarding of in situ Armenian Christian heritage at risk, in particular protection and awareness-building of at-risk churches, monasteries, gravesites, stone crosses, and other sacred sites and structures located in Artsakh and Azerbaijan, through activities including monitoring and education. Based in New York, Save Armenian Monuments operates in collaboration with relevant institutional and individual stakeholders.