System of a Down's members have remained vigilant advocates for their homeland of Armenia over the years, campaigning for the recognition of the 1915 genocide and calling out modern day atrocities as well. Earlier this week, independent presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. issued a statement voicing his support for Artsakh and his desire to use his political platform to get a recent expulsion of ethnic Armenians by Azerbaijan overturned through peaceful sanctions. Singer Serj Tankian has weighed in on Kennedy's vocal support, sharing some thoughts of his own on Kennedy's declaration.

What Robert Kennedy Jr. Said About Artsakh

Back in April of 2023, Kennedy filed his intent to run for the President of the United States, seeking the Democratic party nomination, but by October of this year he changed paths and decided to run as an independent candidate.

In a newly posted video message, Kennedy Jr. shared his stance on the invasion of Artsakh and the expulsion of 120,000 ethnic Armenians from their homeland. His comments can be viewed below:

“Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire perpetrated the first genocide of the modern era when it murdered a million and a half ethnic Armenians. That ethnic cleansing wiped out thousands of years of Armenian presence in Anatolia. Today, the oldest of all the Armenian territories is now the victim of an ethnic cleansing campaign. This time it's Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh. During the Soviet era, the Kremlin forcibly incorporated this Christian territory into Muslim Azerbaijan. Artsakh had been Orthodox Christian and Armenian for over 1000 years. It has one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world," stated Kennedy Jr.

He continued, "Beginning in 2020, Azerbaijan ruthlessly launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against this peaceful and peace-loving people. It systematically bombarded population centers with cluster bombs and missiles. Then in September, Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked invasion and expelled all 120,000 ethnic Armenians. While the world was focused on Gaza and Israel with indignation and outrage from every direction, we heard almost nothing about this mass expulsion of the entire population of one of the oldest Armenian states on the planet. Empty condemnations of this ethnic cleansing campaign are not enough. Unlike the 1915 Genocide, this one is reversible."

The presidential candidate explained, "The U.S. government needs to mobilize the global community to take action to ensure the safe return of Armenians to Artsakh and to defend their right to self-determination. This is a situation where peaceful sanctions could actually work. The U.S. still has leverage in that region and it can use that power to mobilize all of the nations in that region to reverse this humanitarian tragedy. We should also seek the removal of blockades in Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia is a landlocked nation that needs access to ports and to the surrounding countries."

Sharing his intent, he concluded, "As President of the United States, I will use diplomacy, our moral authority, our economic leverage and sanctions to restore Armenia to a nation of peace and justice. I want to commit this country to the restoration of the sovereignty of Armenia and Artsakh and to the restoration of its territory. I want to do this peacefully. Instead of starting another war somewhere, I'd like to stop one."

How System of a Down's Serj Tankian Responded to Kennedy Jr's Declaration

Serj Tankian, who has accompanied his X account with the hashtag #SanctionAzerbaijan, seemed to cautiously welcome Kennedy Jr.'s support concerning the current actions going on in Artsakh, though he did question the timing of political candidate choosing now to make his declaration.

"I appreciate the statement of support by @RobertKennedyJr but can’t help wonder why he couldn’t have voiced it as a private citizen before running for office when numerous orgs reached out to him for the exact reason. That said it’s a very strong statement and commitment that we will hold him to," explained Tankian.

System of a Down's Activism for Armenia and Artsakh

In the early years of System of a Down, the band used their public platform to call out for recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 1915, even staging their "Souls" benefit concerts as a way to draw attention to the cause.

In recent years, their activism has included bringing attention to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. While fans have clamored for new music from the group who last recorded with two studio albums in 2005, new music finally came in the form of two songs - "Protect the Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz" - that were released in November 2020. Both songs spoke to "a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon our cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia," stated the band at the time.

READ MORE: System of a Down Rally Support Following Attacks on Artsakh

In the time since, System of a Down have performed sparingly, but members of the band have used their social media presence to address the ongoing war in their homeland.

In 2020, Tankian warned of another potential Armenian Genocide in Artsakh. The singer also recorded a duet with Armenian vocalist Sevak Amroyan called "Amber" in which he called for Armenian unity in 2022. And he's used his social media platform to call out popular artists for helping to whitewash and normalize Azerbaijan's public image by performing in the country, later singling out Imagine Dragons for doing so.

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