Ruben Zargarian: The problem of racism and neo-Nazism in Azerbaijan
The delay in the final recognition of the independence of the long-established and successful Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) and the international legal settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict are leading to the growth of radical nationalism and racism, as well as to the violation of human rights, including the right to life, in Azerbaijan.
The chairman of the international human rights movement "The World without Nazism", the senator of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Boris Shpigel, noticing that today there are no Nazi regimes in the world, emphasizes: "But, unfortunately, history repeats itself and we know that Nazism does not start with the gas chambers; it ends with them. We must prevent the recurrence of Nazism and exclude a situation in which politicians would be able to divide the people on a national, religious or another basis" ("Nezavisimaya Gazeta", 30.01.2012).
In Azerbaijan, state propaganda, the media, and official Azerbaijani history books inspire racial hatred and a sense of ethnic and national superiority, primarily against Armenians and Russians, as well as against other peoples.
In Azerbaijan, a murder on the national basis has been elevated to the level of state policy. On February 19, 2004, in Budapest, the sleeping Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan, who had taken English language courses organized within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, was brutally murdered at night by an Azeri officer Ramil Safarov. The killer struck 16 blows with an ax over the face of a sleeping Armenian officer and then planned to kill another Armenian officer. During the interrogation, Safarov admitted that he had carefully planned the murder in advance, for which he specifically bought an ax. The Hungarian court sentenced Safarov to the life imprisonment without amnesty for 30 years. On August 31, 2012, the Hungarian side extradited the killer to Baku, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pardoned him on the same day. The Defense Minister awarded Safarov the title of Major of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and wished him success in his future activities. Safarov got the house and a lump sum payment of salary for the 8 years of imprisonment in a Hungarian prison. In Azerbaijan, a coward nocturnal murderer at the official level is proclaimed a "national hero". Thus, the authorities of Azerbaijan have placed themselves outside the framework of a civilized world community.
In the Azerbaijani cities, including Sumgait that is well-known for its pogroms and murders of Armenians, many thousands of people honored the murderer Safarov on the streets, just as in 1988 they celebrated the earthquake in Armenia. The crowd chanted: "Ramil, we are proud of you!". The Ombudsman of Azerbaijan, Elmira Suleymanova, declared the pardoning of Safarov as the realization of the "dream of the people" (http://interfax.az/view/551128). MP Jeyhun Osmanli noted that this will serve as an example for Azerbaijani youth.
In 2006, the National Democratic Party of Azerbaijan proclaimed Safarov "the man of the year". In the statements of the Party, it was stressed that "the more Azerbaijanis will kill Armenians, the less they [Armenians] will become."
Analyst of the Turkish newspaper “Radikal”, lawyer Orkhan Kemal Gengiz stated: "Nowadays, Azerbaijan is experiencing collective insanity. Safarov is accepted as a national hero. He got the pardon, promotion in rank, new house, and salary. They tell you about the beast-killer as about the hero. If this is not a collective insanity, then what? And because of this insanity, the entire Caucasus is boiling" (http://analitika.at.ua/news/radikal_ob_azerbajdzhane_to_chto_iz_ubijcy_d...).
The current campaign for the heroization of the murderer Safarov is the result of many years of systematic and deliberate misanthropic policy of the Baku administration against Armenians.
On March 1, 2012, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, loudly declared that all Armenians of the world are the enemies for Azerbaijan, stating: "First of all, our main enemies are the world Armenians". It is noteworthy that I. Aliyev also states that the number of enemies of Azerbaijan in the world will grow. It can be seen from the text of the statement that this is not only Armenians but also other states of the world, which the Azerbaijani president divided into three groups, although without specific indication (http://www.regnum.ru/news/1504750.html).
On the same day, on March 1, 2012, the advisor of the ex-President Heydar Aliyev and the person who was close to the current President, Vafa Guluzade, made an another important statement that the collapse of Russia is advantageous for Azerbaijan, and the delay in negotiations on the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict meets the interests of Azerbaijan. (http://www.regnum.ru/news/1504765.html). As they say, Vafa Guluzade reveals what the Azerbaijani President conceals. It is noteworthy that V. Guluzade has repeatedly made anti-Russian statements for many years. As is known, Armenianphobia always closely links with Russophobia.
The head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus, Allahshukur Pashazadeh, publicly preaches racial hatred. In 2008, he said: "I'm at war with Armenians; lies and betrayal are in the blood of Armenians" (http://haylife.ru/content/9/1831.html). Earlier in 2006, he made a statement aimed at inciting religious hatred: "I am ready to declare jihad." ("Nezavisimaya Gazeta", 29.08.2006).
Azerbaijan does not need Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with Armenians; but without Armenians, as they say, it will be useful in the economy to satisfy ambitions and moods. At a meeting with the editors of leading Azerbaijani newspapers in 2002, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev confessed: "I tried to have more Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh and reduce the number of Armenians."
Director of the Azerbaijani Center for Political Innovation and Technology Mubariz Ahmadoglu held a special press conference in June 2008 at which he expressed his views on Nagorno-Karabakh: "Nagorno-Karabakh is returning to Azerbaijan, with the condition that Armenians will not reside there." Perfectly well realizing that his statements are fascism, M. Ahmadoglu tries to justify himself: "I'm not a fascist. I believe that Armenians should not live in Nagorno-Karabakh." (IAA De Facto, 9.06.2008).
Above mentioned Vafa Guluzade at the session of the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan in February 2001 stated that it is impossible to give to Nagorno-Karabakh the status of an autonomous region within Azerbaijan. He stressed that "it would be a great crime to grant Armenians a citizenship in Azerbaijan […] and when we infringe on their rights, they will fight for their rights" ("The Baku Worker", 28. 02. 2001). In July 2011, Vafa Guluzade urged the Azerbaijani leadership to learn from Adolf Hitler. (http://panorama.am/en/politics/2011/07/28/guluzade/). In general, the phraseology of the Baku administration regarding Armenians is an exact copy of the terminology adopted in Nazi Germany against Jews and Slavs.
On November 6, 2014, Head of the Department of Expertise, Programming and Analytics of the National Television and Radio Council of Azerbaijan, Tavakkul Dadashev, in an interview with "Modern", called on the Azerbaijani media to use as many insults in materials on Armenian subjects as possible. He stressed: "I do not deny that insulting statements sound in the materials related specifically to Armenia. And that is right; it is necessary. Let every TV channel pour insults on Armenia, as many as possible. That is not a problem". (http://www.panorama.am/en/news/2014/11/06/azerbaijan-media/173140).
On May 9, 2016, the former presidential candidate of Azerbaijan, leader of the New Musavat Party Hafiz Hajiyev, during a televised debate on the Azerbaijani TV channel ANS-TV, called for the bombing of the nuclear power plant in Armenia and the cutting of all Armenians (http://www.panorama.am/ru/news/2016/05/09/Бывший-кандидат-в-президенты-Азербайджана-АЭС-Армения-армяне-резня/157661).
On June 7, 2016, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) at the Council of Europe expressed concern over the ongoing anti-Armenian propaganda in Azerbaijan. The report emphasizes: "Politicians, educational institutions, and the media continue to spread hatred towards Armenians. In Azerbaijan, a whole generation grew up on such a rhetoric of hatred" (http://www.mediamax.am/ru/news/foreignpolicy/18596/).
The researcher from Turkey Yasemin Kilit Aklar in the work devoted to the teaching of history in Azerbaijan concludes that official Azerbaijani history textbooks can inspire hatred and a sense of ethnic and national superiority primarily in relation to Armenians, as well as to Russians and Iranians. According to her calculations, on 391 pages of one history text, Armenians are called enemies 187 times, Russians – 119 times, Iranians – 44 times. Yasemin Aklar emphasizes that such an attitude towards Armenians makes the existence of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh problematic in case if it becomes a part of Azerbaijan (Yasemin Kilit Aklar (Kocaeli University) The Teaching of History in Azerbaijan and Nationalism // Ab imperio 2/2005).
The prohibition for the citizens of Russia and other countries with Armenian names on visiting the territory of Azerbaijan has long been a regular manifestation of the system of racial discrimination in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani airlines did not let a Russian citizen, the head of the export sales department of AvtoVAZ PJSC, Sergey Gurdzhian, to get on board because of his Armenian name. Baku systematically violates the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality.
On November 11, 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern that foreigners with an Armenian surname, regardless of their citizenship, are not allowed to enter Azerbaijan. In this context, official Baku was urged not to block access to Azerbaijan for people with an Armenian surname on arbitrary and discriminatory grounds. (http://www.mediamax.am/ru/news/karabakh/20552/).
On July 5, 2017, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a special statement demanding that Azerbaijan stop discriminating against Russian citizens with Armenian surnames arriving in Azerbaijan. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that for half a year in 2017, 25 Russian citizens were denied entry to Azerbaijan. At the same time, they were detained for several hours – in some cases without food, water, and medical care – and then they were expelled and forced to pay for it. As a basis, their Armenian names were mentioned, but there were also cases when persons with Russian surnames, names, and patronymics were interrogated for the purpose of revealing "Armenian ancestors". (http://tass.ru/politika/4388392). In 2016, at the Baku airport, even an 8-year-old child was not allowed to enter Azerbaijan because of his Armenian name.
The Azerbaijani media are looking for Armenian blood from representatives of Azerbaijani show business that inflicts a blow to their reputation in a racist state. It is interesting that the performers themselves and their producers refute these rumors, call them slander. One example is the singer of the group "W-Trio", Natavan Habibi (http://news.bakililar.az/).
Azerbaijani MPs demanded to conduct a genetic examination of the Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylesli, the author of the story "Stone Dreams" (2012) that tells about the Armenian pogroms in Baku in the winter of 1990, to find out whether he is an Armenian or not. The pro-government party "Modern Musavat" announced that it will pay 12 thousand dollars to the one who cuts the ears off the writer (www.rusrep.ru/article/2013/11/10/aylisli).
The permanent representative of Azerbaijan to the UN Geneva office, Isfendiyah Vahabzadeh, in his official letter to the speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament Murtuz Alasgarov in the summer of 2001, pointed out that "in the ranks of Azerbaijani diplomats there are many of those, who have alien blood in their veins, and that diplomats whose mothers are Armenians, Jews, Russian, let alone small nations, cannot serve Azerbaijan dutifully and faithfully abroad" ("Echo", 05. 06. 2001).
President of Azerbaijan, I. Aliyev, admitted that in Baku any Armenian can simply be slaughtered. Russian TV presenter, Vladimir Solovyov, who visited Baku on April 7, 2017, on the radio broadcasting of Vesti FM told the details of the meeting with I. Aliyev. The Russian TV presenter also asked about the history of the Muscovite with a Russian passport and an Armenian surname, which was not allowed on board of the aircraft flying to Baku. I. Aliyev answered: "Taking into account the very tense relations, where are the guarantees that a person will come to the hotel, and there they will see in the documents that he is an Armenian and will not kill him?" (https://rusarminfo.ru/2017/04/11/menya-davno-gotovili-k-poezdke-v-baku-s...).
The behavior of the Baku regime from the very beginning of the last stage of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict was directed against any possibility of reconciliation. The Nuremberg Tribunal has become the largest political and legal achievement of its era, but not everyone has learned from it. The Baku administration committed crimes against peace, such as planning, preparing, unleashing and conducting an aggressive war against the NKR in 1991-1994. The Baku militarists committed war crimes and crimes against humanity such as the killing and extermination of the civilian population of the occupied territories, the killing and cruel treatment of prisoners of war, the plundering of public and private property, and the deliberate destruction of cities and villages. The Baku administration, denying the genocide, is preparing the ground for the next genocide. In this regard, all the rest of Azerbaijan's politics and rhetoric has no significance.
Today, many decades after the Nuremberg Tribunal's condemnation of the crimes of Nazism, there are still recurrences in the world, similar to Khatyn in Belarus, Lidice in the Czech Republic, Oradur-sur-Glan in France. In 2017, 25 years have passed since the day of the war crime of the Azerbaijani army in the village of Maraga of the Mardakert region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In the seized by the Azerbaijani army for a few hours on April 10, 1992, the Karabakh village of Maraga, was brutally killed 81 people, taken hostage by 67 people, the fate of many of them is still not known. People who did not manage to leave the village were dismembered by axes or poured gasoline and burned alive. The Vice Speaker of the House of Lords of Great Britain, Baroness Caroline Cox, qualified the tragedy in Maragha as a crime against humanity. The terrible tragedy of Maragha was a continuation of the systematic policy of ethnic discrimination and genocide against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, carried out by the Azerbaijani authorities for decades. In this line, there are mass murders of Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovabad, Northern Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku and other places. Azerbaijan has not yet condemned the monstrous crimes of its army in Maragh and other inhabited localities of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is a precondition for the recurrence of the genocide in case of a new aggression against the NKR.
In April 2016, Azerbaijan unleashed another large-scale terrorist aggression against the NKR. The tripartite terrorist union of Turkey, the "Islamic state", and Azerbaijan was defeated in the Syrian Palmyra and made an attempt to take revenge on Nagorno-Karabakh. The administration in Baku committed crimes against peace and humanity. The photos of the tortured elderly residents of the Karabakh village Talish, Valery and Razmeli Khalapyan and 92-year-old Marousya Khalapyan, caused all normal people to shudder. The war crime in the village of Talish is comparable to the war crimes of the Azerbaijani militarists in another Karabakh village of Maragha. The Baku administration finds itself above the law and the norms of international law, thus, it threatens both the security of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) and the security of the region.
A deliberative policy of genocide against Armenians, carried out since 1918 under any leadership of Azerbaijan, visually and convincingly demonstrated the impossibility of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) to be a part of Azerbaijan. The facts of a systematic and targeted genocide against Armenians in Azerbaijan are so obvious and glaring that even if there were no other legal basis for proclaiming the state independence of the Republic of Artsakh, this would already be enough. It should be noted that the UN Charter and international law imperatively dictate the need to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh.
For the Baku administration, the main goal of the talks is not the peaceful Azerbaijani-Karabakh agreement, but the satisfaction of its unjustified territorial claims. The Baku administration is trying to solve its internal problems through an aggressive increment of territories and ethnic cleansing.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, systematically states that there is no Armenia, and there is "Western Azerbaijan", thereby making territorial claims not only on the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) but also on the Republic of Armenia (http://ru.president.az/articles/21942; http://ru.apa.az/news/269087; azertag.az/ru/xeber/V_Baku_nachal_rabotu_IV_Sezd_azerbaidzhancev_mira_Prezident_Ilham_Aliev_proiznes_rech_na_ceremonii_otkrytiya_sezda-957127; http://news.day.az/politics/565000.html; http://ru.president.az/articles/12487).
Ramiz Melikov, the head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, said on August 4, 2004: "In the next 25-30 years, the state of Armenia will not exist in the South Caucasus. The current Armenia is built on the historical Azerbaijani lands. I think that in 25-30 years these territories will again be transferred to the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan." ("Zerkalo", 04. 08. 2004). In 2006, the deputy Milli Mejlis Havva Mammadova called for "wiping Armenia as a state off the face of the earth" ("Zerkalo", 14.02. 2006).
The repeated appeals of the official representatives of Azerbaijan to the destruction of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), that were sounded for the first time after the defeat of Nazism, demonstrate its true intentions and go against the values of the world community in the 21st century.
In order to form a civil society and fight against radical nationalism and racism, the Azerbaijani authorities must stop the hateful racist agitation and propaganda in the media and education system, stop the demolition of Armenian and Russian cemeteries, renounce calls for war and jihad, stop systematic military provocations on the border and terrorist aggression, take measures to create a favorable public opinion for the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict and mutual recognition Azerbaijan and the Republic of Artsakh in the interests of both peoples. Negotiations are incompatible with the propaganda of war, xenophobia, terrorist aggression and shooting snipers.
In Azerbaijan, it should be finally comprehended that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a neighbor for Azerbaijan, not an enemy and that the Karabakh people equip their home of Nagorno-Karabakh for a decent and free life, not for the detriment of anyone. In the thinking part of the Azerbaijani society there is a growing awareness that Nagorno Karabakh is a neighbor, that they do not need the capture of Karabakh, that the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict creates problems for the development of Azerbaijan, for its democratization, that it is necessary to change the vector of development and break the impasse of confrontation with the NKR without national catastrophe.
Azerbaijan should recognize the concept of peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity, which will create conditions for Azerbaijan's movement towards freedom, democracy, prosperity, and security. In the conditions of escalation of global competition, only the pro-Karabakh Azerbaijan can take a worthy place in the world.
Ruben Zargarian, Candidate of Science (History) Degree, Advisor of the 1st class of the MFA of the Republic Artsakh (NKR)
(Translated by Nelli Efremyan)