Armenophobia rages in Azerbaijan unabated. While this statement might be a foregone conclusion, the causes and effects of such an appalling phenomenon need to be critically understood.
Armenians are the perfect external enemy for Azerbaijani authorities who use the current situation to aim their propaganda machine in the necessary direction, falsify history and disseminate Armenophobia in their country. The Azerbaijani authorities are diligently working in this direction. The question is, why?
The image of an external enemy is usually created by the political elite in order to internally mobilize society and oppress existing domestic political powers and movements directed against the very same elite. A number of psychologists claim that in the face of real or alleged threat, the population displays obedience to the leader who has the status of the “father,” “protector,” or even of the “traditional leader.”
Azerbaijan is a classic example of such policies. All socio-economic relations in the country are directly reflected on the frontier, reminding Azerbaijani citizens that if not for Aliyev and his “entourage,” the “enemy,” the Armenians, would have slaughtered the Azerbaijani people in their homes. Children are taught this in fairy tales, adults are regularly instructed by mass media and officials.*
Undoubtedly, Armenophobia in Azerbaijani society is imposed by the authorities. Yet, it would be hard to impose such attitudes without fertile ground. For all intents and purposes, the Azerbaijani people are not opposed to “hate speech” and indulge in it with enviable diligence.
But how does such a mechanism work? Primarily the signal comes from the head of state, the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. To understand such an elaborate mechanism, some of the president’s official speeches over the last few years should be cited. The speeches are accessible on the official presidential website. However, for users with Armenian IP addresses, access to the website has been blocked. It seems the Azerbaijani side is not aware of the existence of VPNs and many other useful programs assisting in avoiding such a blockade and staying undetected.
The dissemination of Armenophobia looks like the following:
Excerpts from President Aliyev’s speeches:
“We have to be honest and acknowledge that Armenia simply carries formal existence and is artificially marked on the world map as an independent state. Armenia is a dependent state, which is not capable of determining its own future.”
“All our historical monuments, statues, mosques, and cemeteries are ruined by the Armenians.”
“Armenian fascism has inflicted a large amount of causalities. Even today many innocent people are suffering from Armenian policies.”
“We will isolate Armenia further from all the projects in the region. We are to strengthen our military forces.”
“The way it is going, Armenia will soon perish from the world map.”
“One of the decisive factors in the world today is military force. The main principle of political distribution is “Might makes right” […]. I have mentioned it on several occasions, and will repeat myself once again, if you do not want to die, free our lands.”
“The war is still persisting. The first stage of the war is over. If Armenia does not want the second stage to break out, it has to draw appropriate conclusions and voluntarily free the occupied lands. Only under such conditions is there is hope for an independent Armenian state.”
“Unfortunately, the nationalists, who have seized power in Armenia, have waged an insidious and dishonorable war against Azerbaijan. They have displayed a great sense of ingratitude towards the Azerbaijani people, who were feeding and helping them for long decades.”
“We have to seek revenge. To seek revenge for the victims of the Khojaly Massacre. We have to seek revenge for the blood of our shahids (martyrs).”
“There are powers that extremely disapprove of us. We may divide those into a few certain groups. In the first place, our mortal enemy is the global Armenian nation and all the corrupted, hypocritical, and treacherous politicians under Armenian influence.”
Once the president has signaled the dissemination of a particular idea or has commented on “Armenianhood” in general, the second echelon of power – ministers, deputies, and other officials – loyally follow the president:
Zakir Hasanov, Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan
Defense Minister Hasanov meticulously cites the president in virtually all of his speeches. The president’s words and statements are a call to action for everyone else. As the minister claims, “The president’s demand that ‘All the Armenians have to free our lands. If Armenian soldiers do not want to die, they should not step into Agdam or Fizuli,’ should serve as a guide for action for everyone else. This is what the Azerbaijani people expect and is the Supreme Commander’s directive.”
During the Four Day War in 2016, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued the following decree: “The Minister of Defense has ordered the preparation to use all heavy weaponry at the disposal of the Armed Forces, including missile-artillery forces to attack Khankendi and other settlements on the territory of occupied Azerbaijan.” Khankendi is the Azerbaijani version of Stepanakert and Azerbaijanis consider Artsakh ‘occupied Azerbaijan.’ This statement by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense is a clear violation of Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions, Article 52 which provides for the protection of civilian objects during wartime.
Ali Hasanov, Head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Social and Political Department
“Over the last 200 years, Armenians propagated the politics of genocide against the Azerbaijani people, they actively encouraged the policy of the displacement of the Azerbaijani people from their original homeland along with using brutal violence.”
Ogtay Asadov, Chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan
“During the last century Armenians violently massacred over two million Azerbaijani people and Turks. Armenian nationalists are the ones responsible for all these murders.”
Elman Mammadov, Member of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan:
“It is not clear why Turkey tolerates Armenian people on its lands. What is the reason Turkey does not require Armenians to free their lands? Turkey should be a state without Armenians […]. If Turkey and Azerbaijan unite, they may wipe Armenia off the map of the world . Armenians should beware of this […]. We urge Turkey to expel Armenian from its territory so that they may make
Ziyafat Asgarov, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security:
“The majority of Armenians is well aware that the so-called ‘genocide’ has never actually happened.”
Hafiz Hajiyev, Leader of the New Musavat Party:
“Our sons in Armenia will set the nuclear plant in Armenia to explode so that no Armenian is left in that territory.”
After disseminating and encouraging anti-Armenian hysteria, Azerbaijani officials pass the baton to various public figures and opinion makers.
Allahshukur Pashazade, Sheikh ul-Islam and Grand Mufti of the Caucasus:
“We have undertaken all the possible measures to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner. […] Nonetheless we do not see the result of all these meetings. Dishonesty and betrayal are rooted in Armenian genes. They have shared meals and bread with us, and now they publicly blame and accuse us.”
“We have to seek revenge for our shahid’s blood”
Hasif Hurbanovo, Chairman of the Global Congress of Azerbaijanis, expressed his views about Armenians during the Azerbaijani-Turkish conference titled, “The Past and Present Relationship Among Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia” held in the Turkish city of Izmir in May 2016:
“There are malware and antivirus programs in computers. The companies developing malware programs develop antiviruses as well. The developers of the malware program ‘Armenia’ should also launch its antivirus. If we want to achieve the goal of world peace, we have to get rid of the virus of Armenia.”
Kazim Abdullayev, Honored Artist of Azerbaijan,
The following is a passage from a recent interview with Kazim Abdullayev, an actor mostly famous as the national “Santa Claus,” a role he has coveted for more than 30 years:
– Dear Kazim, imagine you light a Christmas tree and it turns out it is a really magical one. Do you have a cherished dream to make a wish for?
– Oh, there are many dreams that I would like to accomplish, but in the first place I would freeze Armenians and free Karabakh from them.
Rafik Aliyev, Ph.D. candidate and professor:
“Our neighbors, Armenians, absorb the virus of national-chauvinism with their mother’s milk and this defines a credo for their whole life.”
Professor Ilgar Aliyev, President of the Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences:
“Armenianhood is a unique, evil, and hateful phenomenon.”
Habil Aliyev, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Azerbaijani newspaper “Gundelik Baku:”
“Armenians are my eternal enemies. Wherever I see an Armenian, I will cut their tongues and publicly denounce them. Even if I am torn apart, I will always abhor them […]. If the war breaks out again, I will not spare even children.”
Murad Dadashov, Honored Artist of Azerbaijan:
“We communicate with a highly unhealthy society. Honestly, I have always sympathized with our officials and representatives who have to communicate with the Armenian side.”
Mubariz Ahmedoglu, Chairman of the Center for Political Innovation and Technologies
“Armenians should not inhabit Nagorno-Karabakh […]. I am not a fascist. I think Armenians should not inhabit Nagorno-Karabakh for reasons of security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as sooner or later they will initiate secessionist inclinations.”
Farid Teymurhanlu, Azerbaijani journalist:
“The definition, the concept of the word ‘Armenian’ is clear for everyone, expect the Armenians themselves of course. It is vileness, cowardice and betrayal. Probably, when God was creating them, he was not in the mood and endowed them with the lowest human qualities.”
The Azerbaijani website Haqqin.az published an article about those stores in Baku that were selling T-shirts with Kim Kardashian’s image. They were being sold in the markets of Sadarak and Bin. The website urged everyone to stop wearing such “shameful” clothing, asking whether the Azerbaijani people knew the Armenian origin of Kardashian.
The Role of the Media
Reinforcing these sentiments and the final stage of Armenophobia is the role mass media takes upon itself.
Oxu.Az: “Recently Baku markets received a new delivery of condensed milk. The information about the product is actually translated into Armenian. It appears that the delivery was intended for the Armenian market. Our national markets display the given product for sale without even the slightest concern.”
Vesti.az: “It is commonly acknowledged, that the Armenian church stands behind the idea of terrorism. The Armenian Diaspora provides the main sponsorship, whereas the executives are Armenian political organizations.”
Modern.az: “Armenian women inflict imminent harm. They are like a ticking mortal time bomb. The Armenian imperial strategists have devised and currently are executing the plan to exterminate Turks through genetics and intermarriage.”
Gundelik Baku: “Department of Homeland Security has to establish an independent agency and assign the investigation of Armenian blood within the Azerbaijani population. For instance, parents who want to marry their offsprings, may send an inquiry to the agency to reveal whether their future relatives have Armenian genes or any Armenian relatives. Only at that point we may avoid intermarriages and the risk of being infected with the Armenian blood.”
We may treat the given situation humorously, ignore it, or even get into polemics, yet the fact is that Azerbaijan has already given birth to a generation, which has not seen Armenians; a generation, which has not lived or communicated with Armenians beyond social networks. This generation, in its turn, cannot protect its children against the propaganda of Armenophobia, which has penetrated all spheres of Azerbaijani society.
Unfortunately, this means that coming generations also will not be given the chance to develop mutual understanding unless there is an influential power capable of initiating the painful process of “denazification.”
I would like to finish the review with Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyov’s question to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during a recent interview. “Considering the extremely tense, in fact, explosive relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia, is there a guarantee that a person with an Armenian surname who checks in a hotel in Azerbaijan will not be slaughtered?”
Indeed, under the extreme level of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan, cultivated and imposed by President Aliyev, there are unfortunately no guarantees.
*More information on this is available in the book “Armenophobia in Azerbaijan” (www.stophatespeech.net).