Serj Tankian Warns of Another Potential Armenian Genocide in Artsakh
Throughout their career, the members of System of a Down have used their platform to help try to bring recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915. With war currently breaking out in Artsakh, System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian warns that another genocide of Armenians could be taking place.
In late September, forces in Azerbaijan started a pre-mediated offensive attack on Artsakh, an independent country that borders Armenia that is populated with a vast majority of ethnic Armenians. In early October, the members of System of a Down united on a public statement bringing public attention to the battle in which Azerbaijan broke the cease fire agreement between the countries that had been enacted in 1994. Adding to the unease, according to the group, was the aid of Turkey's Erdogan regime for Azerbaijan.
In their statement, the System of a Down members shared key links in which those wishing to help spread the word and lend support could do so. But since that statement, the confrontation between the countries has intensified and as Tankian reveals to Fader, there's also been a campaign of disinformation clouding the reporting on the battle.
Tankian explains, "After the Nagorno-Karabakh War ended in 1994 a ceasefire was signed and the Armenians of Artsakh were able to establish a republic, a modern democracy with its own parliament. Azerbaijan has never forgiven the Armenians for winning the war. Since then, from a young age, children in Azerbaijani schools have been taught to hate Armenians while the President of Azerbiajan, Ilham Aliyev, dismisses the Armenian Genocide of 1915 — in which Ottoman Turkish forces systematically massacred 1.5 million Armenians and sent others seeking refuge abroad — as a 'myth,' despite a clear consensus among historians."
He continues, "Today Armenian people face an existential threat as Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces attack residential areas, maternity hospitals and cathedrals in the Republic of Artsakh, even using cluster bombs, in direct contravention of international law. The Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs is the same man responsible for indoctrinating his country’s children against another race — he was the Minister of Education until this past July. Now we find ourselves in the middle of a humanitarian crisis.
Tankian says the repeated attacks on Artsakh and the racist rhetoric used are a "bitter reminder" of the 1915 genocide, while also pointing to Turkish president Erdogan's recent comments stating, “We will continue to fulfill this mission which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries in the Caucasus region."
Tankian reveals that last week the International Association of Genocide Scholars published an open letter warning that a genocide may already be underway. He adds, "There is a high probability of genocide of Armenians if Azerbaijani troops takeover Artsakh. We are fighting an existential battle, a challenge of a lifetime."
In his discussion with Fader, Tankian also shared his concern over the media narrative. "Cardi B recently posted a link to a fundraiser for the Armenia Fund, which provides humanitarian aid to Artsakh, but took the post down after she was labeled a 'terrorist' on social media. Elton John spoke out in defense of the Armenians, but his Instagram post was deleted as well," says Tankian. "There is a huge disinformation campaign at play, funded by Azerbaijan. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed three years ago that the ruling class in Azerbaijan had spent $2.9 billion on the 'Azerbaijani Laundromat' between 2012 and 2014, in an attempt to whitewash their reputation. It was a setup to buy influence, to buy good press coverage. Still they have faced few if any repercussions for this."
The singer continues, "It is horrible to see this type of human rights crisis happening to our nation, where no one comes to our aid. In 1915, all of the great powers — France, the United Kingdom, the United States — helped. They had orphanages for Armenians; they were trying to raise funds. The Near East Relief Fund spent millions of dollars on trying to aid Armenians. But no one came to our rescue militarily. Maybe they couldn't — maybe it was too late by the time that they were actually in Turkey. But it feels like that again, 105 years later. We're calling on these great powers and saying, 'They're cluster bombing the capital, Stepanakert." Who's going to condemn Azerbaijan for these war crimes? Some world leaders are speaking up now, but it's taken almost a month, at the expense of thousands of lives — and a war is still being fought."
Tankian reiterated that there are ways to help, calling out the importance of reaching out to Congress members to demand they take action. There's currently a House Resolution (No. 1165) that condemns the Azerbaijan military action and denounces Turkey's interference in the conflict that if voted through would help in giving the people there necessary legal protection.
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