Still a phenomenon inseparable from any ethnic group, ethnocentrism begets cohesion and implies a certain perception of the existing world through the prism of the group that stands at the “center.” According to recent attempts by psychologists to identify the phenomenon, ethnocentrism has been reconceptualized “as a complex multidimensional construct that consists of intergroup expressions of preference, superiority, purity, and exploitativeness, and intragroup expressions of group cohesion and devotion.” In ancient societies, the formation of the image of the “other” and giving a preference to those who were similar over those who were different made it possible for a person to be identified with their own tribal group. More recently, social communities have separated themselves from others, believing that the language, religion, culture, or literature inherent to them is superior to the “other’s.” Ethnocentrism manifested itself in the attitude of the ancient Greeks to the “barbarians” (foreigners), characterizing them as aggressive, uneducated, deprived of human qualities (inhuman), uncivilized strangers. Thus, “barbarians” were understood to be cowardly, wayward, aggressive, monstrous, cruel, and greedy. The high self-esteem of such a people, including believing in the superiority of their own culture and belittling foreign cultures, is based on the fact that, at an early stage of their existence, those peoples, and later nations, exclusively designated themselves as “people,” perceiving everything that was outside as “inhuman.” However, in the contemporary world, this approach, contradicts the universal values of modern society. After the tragic experience of the Second World War and Nazism, modern civilized society, realizing the seriousness and the ultimate consequences of the abovementioned approach, now avoids “humiliation and superiority” and adheres to a tolerant attitude towards so-called “others.”
Quite often, in Armenian media content, one can come across reports and materials on the so-called “current Armenophobia policy” and its “dominance” in Azerbaijan. Despite this, the high level of Azerbaijanophobia in Armenia itself is overlooked, even though, despite dissemblance at the state level, it is obviously supported. The discourse of Armenian nationalists is characterized by the accentuation of the so-called “superiority of Armenia” as a nation: its primacy, exclusive role in the evolution of mankind, and the talent that is inherent in its people alone, in contrast with neighbors that are backward, ignorant and uncivilized. Thus, Armenian nationalists ascribe to themselves the mantle of the nation that was the first to officially adopt Christianity; the 2,802-year-old Yerevan, which is older than Rome; the presence in Armenia of the oldest wine-making economy in the world; the most ancient leather shoe; the invention of color television and radio-photo telegraphy; the revolution in the water supply industry; the invention of green ink for the American dollar; the invention of military fighter aircraft; and much more in the same vein.
Along the same lines, new Armenian textbooks were published, large parts of which describe the greatness of Armenians and Armenia, characterizing “others” as barbarians (while simultaneously positioning themselves as victims) or disregarding them completely. At first glance, such textbooks largely, and in some cases completely, lack hate speech (earlier, hate speech was explicitly manifest in textbooks, which were soon modified after criticism by the relevant European structures), choosing instead to demonstrate only the “Armenian version” of history. In fact, the same textbooks embed in the minds of the younger generation the image of the greatness of the Armenians, the invincibility of the nation, and similar myths. Therefore, even without resorting to hate speech, this creates a favorable environment for furthering the self-exaltation of Armenians and despising others, and especially those belonging to Armenia’s “hostile nationalities.” Fred Alford, Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland, argues that externalizing, humiliating, ridiculing, ignoring, or criticizing an outgroup develops cohesion within the group, and that keeps groups—from as small as families to as large as nations—together. The existence of the “other” improves intragroup bonds and cohesion, because a created or real “enemy” ultimately becomes a necessity for identity determination.
Thus, the process of identity-building and socialization allows people to clearly define the concepts of “enemy” and “ally.” As a result of social and political circumstances, members of the same group may apply the most primitive method of differentiation, which is defined as “dehumanization.” The ritual of dehumanizing an enemy or “other” can be explained as turning them into a demon—an object to be hated. The dehumanization of a person or group is the consequence of a perception formed in the human mind. In this context, the dehumanization process can be explained as a kind of psychological operation aimed at scaring away and weakening the target group by devaluing it. Furthermore, attempts to dehumanize the target group necessarily glorify those groups that opt for this method, portraying them as pure, chosen, and humane while emphasizing the targeter’s superiority.
Among the nationalities that have become objects of humiliation and dehumanization by Armenian nationalists one can highlight Azerbaijanis. Experts William Hart and Fran Hassenkal distinguish 12 categories of dehumanization, three of which fully correspond to the behavior and attitude of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis. These are: the enemy as an animal, portraying the enemy in the form of a disgusting animal; the enemy as a barbarian, showing the enemy as primitive, cruel and uncivilized; and the enemy as an aggressor, displaying the enemy with weapons, for example, swords, and military uniform. Referring to the written opinion of Hovhannes Galajyan, who published a photograph showing a torture scene, “Every Turk should have the same fate” and “a good Turk is a dead Turk.” With the help of special indicators, the study has revealed how Armenians, while exalting themselves, belittle, humiliate, and insult Azerbaijanis in every possible way, even not counting them as people, but as subhuman or non-human.
The aim of this report is to give a brief overview of the general picture of the hostility of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis utilizing a set of concepts. Having recognized the persistent presence of hate speech, hostility, dehumanization and sarcasm in the discourse of Armenians, both in the pre- and post-war periods, one can merely note fluctuations in the intensity of its manifestation that depend on related events and lead to the enmity being expressed in more radical or moderate terms.
The next section provides a brief overview covering the main definitions of the concepts used, the policies that the Armenian government has (and is) pursuing to incite hatred against Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan in general, the nature of hate speech, and the hostility and dehumanization prevalent in the current discourse of Armenian politicians and public figures, as well as in the attitudes of ordinary Armenians towards Azerbaijanis.
Discrimination in public discourse is manifested by the use of language: terms expressed in audio and visual content, in speeches and in written form that humiliate, insult, incite hostility against, or exclude various categories of people from society based on their racial or ethnic background, religious affiliation, or other contributing characteristics attributed to them. Thus, hate speech is a form of expression of interethnic hostility, racism, xenophobia, incitement to violence, hatred, or discrimination.
Язык вpaжды (unu pumopuкa нeнaвucmu) (aнsn. hate speech): these are all forms of self-expression, as defined by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, that “spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance.”1 More precisely, these are all humiliating and insulting materials, statements, photos, and videos portraying someone who encourages and supports violence while simultaneously justifying it in the public consciousness. A sharper enmity of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis was observed in the early 1990s. Notwithstanding this, a comparative softening followed at the beginning of the current century, but the situation became further radicalized with the escalation of 2016. Last summer, with the military provocation of Armenia towards Tovuz, an area of the Armenian–Azerbaijani border that had no connection with the conflict, hate speech and hostility in the Armenian discourse began to step up. This was manifested in numerous cyberattacks, the creation of trolling accounts, as well as in the creation of pages aiming to mock and insult Azerbaijanis (see below).
Content discrimination: this includes media materials, speeches, and publications that contain xenophobic stereotypes and clichés that stigmatize certain vulnerable groups. Sarcasm is mocking irony: satiric and sharp wit directed against a person using caustic, ironic, and bitter language. In the social segment, it often comprises comments and memes conveying sarcasm and offensive messages. Trolling, or trolling commenting, is a deliberate act of leaving insulting messages intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the readers. All of these have been explicitly expressed in Armenian social media: in status updates, comments, official and unofficial news portals, and so on. Presented below is just a tiny part of collected materials representing this behavior.
Racial discrimination: The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination explains racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
Xenophobia: Literally, pathological fear, unreasonable dislike, and prejudice against people from other countries and cultures. Pre-constructed images, opinions, and ideas, not based on well-grounded facts, and irrational inferences from feelings and perceptions are conventionally accepted as xenophobia.
The concept of the subhuman (German Untermensch): the German word mensch literally means a person. The prefix was used by Nazi propaganda to describe “inferior people.” The word has the derogatory meaning of an inferior, backward, second-class person as opposed to “a person who surpasses him.” In ideology it was opposed to the “overman” or “superman” (German Übermensch). According to author David Smith, when people dehumanize others, they actually perceive them as subhuman beings. Only then can this process “liberate aggression and exclude the goal of aggression from the moral community.” When the Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen, or subhumans, they did not mean it metaphorically: it did not mean that they were “like” subhumans, but rather that they were—literally—subhumans. At that time, the Nazis, justified by this concept, committed atrocities against the Jewish people. The same thinking was applied in the internal discourse of Armenians for many years, which led to the genocide of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly and subsequent atrocities committed by Armenians.
Teaching the theory of Tseghakronutyun (Ցեղակրոնություն)
The basis of the theory of Tseghakron was established in the last century by the Armenian political and military leader Garegin Yeghishevich Ter-Harutyunyan (Nzhdeh). Tseghakron can be translated as “racism”. In combining the terms “race” and “religion,” Nzhdeh based his teaching on the “Armenian race,” that is, an awareness of the importance of one’s origin (highlighting the superiority of the nation), pride, and devoting oneself to remain faithful to one’s race and expressing admiration for that race and preserving its purity. According to Garegin Nzhdeh’s definition, “race” is rather a matter of soul than biology and, more specifically,
Race – is a synthesis of Spirit and Blood … And Tseghakronutyun is an effort, a desire to preserve and perpetuate this originality, this is a desire, an incentive to live in Armenia.
Thus, the teachings of Tsegharkonutyun follow a sequence:
I am preaching to you the Tseghakron Creed, worship of the race… To me, the highest act of individualism and of freedom is to follow the voice of my race. I am a Tseghakron. That means: I know my race. I believe in my race. I worship my race. I know that my race is great; that my race has given more to humanity than it has received from it. I am a believer in my race and, behold, I worship another deity, the blood of my race, in whose unspotted purity lies the future of our people. The Deification of the will of the Race—that is what the Tseghakron is fighting for.
Thus, he defines the nation as the highest value of the individual Armenian, which already bears clear signs of racism (although the Armenian authorities tried to manipulate the essence and meaning of this racist theory). To promote his theory, Nzhdeh published the nationalist magazine Khrovk in Sofia, followed by the newspaper Razmig. In 1932, the magazine published the article “Tsegharkon as a guarantee of victory” that described, in detail, the Tseghamard-Armenian-Aryan.
The teachings of Garegin Nzhdeh distinguish three types of Armenians: tseghamard, zhoghovurd, and takank. According to the theory, the best part of the Armenian nation, tseghamard, carries the ideology, passes it on to the future generation, and sacrifices itself in order to preserve the honor of the motherland. Unlike the tseghamards, who live with eternal ideals and aspirations, keeping the memory of the past alive as well as believing in the future and fighting for it, the zhoghovurd is interpreted as the wavering, uncertain, undecided segment of Armenians. This type live their daily lives, those of the crowd. Takank denotes a betrayer of Armenia, an internal enemy of Armenians who complements external enemies; in other words, a traitor to the national interest and national ideas.
Nzhdeh’s theory also included seven cults, or moral dominants, similar to those of German Nazism: the cult of the homeland (devotion and worship to their land), the cult of blood (he saw the future of the Tsegharkonutyun race in the purity of blood; he also forbade marriage with other ethnic groups), the cult of language (encourages Armenians to speak exclusively in Armenian), the cult of ancestors (the history of the nation as a basis; condemnation of the interruption of the spiritual connection between ancestors and the next generations), the cult of strength or force (a call for active physical development), the cult of the leader (submission to and admiration of the sparapet, the military leader of the Armenians), and the cult of the “martyrs” that have fallen for the nation (he declared the tseghamards saints and obliged everyone to worship them).
Policy of enmity carried out by the Armenian government
Despite the long-term participation of the Armenian side in the peace negotiations, the country continued to maintain a rhetoric of hatred and speak out about the complete incompatibility of the two conflicting nations and the impossibility of peaceful coexistence. The second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, in an infamous speech at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, spoke of “the impossibility of Armenians living in Azerbaijan in general… [and] some kind of ethnic incompatibility,” saying it was unpleasant, “but… a fact.”
At the time, this speech was negatively received by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, who expressed particular regret at the remark about the “ethnic incompatibility of Armenians and Azerbaijanis,” disagreeing and stating that “Europe, to which Armenia and Azerbaijan belong, begins with the acceptance of European diversity—be it ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic.”
The emphasis on Armenian uniqueness was also reflected in an act of Robert Kocharyan’s wife, Bella Kocharyan. During the opening ceremony for the Yerevan blood transfusion center, the wife of the former president proposed to create a separate bank, which should consist exclusively of Armenian blood. Emphasizing the “uniqueness of Armenian blood,” Mrs. Kocharyan noted: “There are specific genetic factors in Armenian blood, and Armenians should only be transfused with Armenian blood.” Thus, putting her nation above all the others, Kocharyan’s wife emphasized certain “specific genetic factors.” Here, one can note the similarity with calls for the purity of “blood” from the leadership of the Third Reich. It is not surprising that a separate anthropological type was once delineated under the name “Armenoid race.”
“Armenoid – aristocracy antiquity”: that is how the Armenians describe themselves on an active Armenian site. Occupying an “intermediate place between the Caucasian and Varietas Caucasia” (interestingly, in the original text the Armenoid type is written with a capital letter, but Caucasian and Caucasian types in lower case, as a means of showing themselves as the superior type), the Armenoid type includes Armenians, Assyrians, and the eastern sub-ethnic groups of Georgians. According to the author, in the Neolithic period there was a rite of deformation of the head “under the Armenoid,” which, he claims, is an indicator of Armenoids being “not younger than the Neolithic”; the same Armenoids were simultaneously considered “as people of high origin.” This grew into an official narrative that was soon embraced at all levels of society.
Serzh Sargsyan’s government and the Tseghakron theory
In fundamentally comparing the two ideologies of Armenian and German nationalism, one can come across several correlating ideas. Adolf Hitler’s theory had three practical provisions, including, first of all, the construction of a party state, the main activity of which was to be reduced to solving political problems determined by the Fuhrer and
the party. There was also the provision of living space for the German nation and the separation of Jews from the Germans (in other words, the solution of the “Jewish question”). As for the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), based on the canons of the Tsegharkon theory (a nationalist ethnoreligious doctrine) of Garegin Nzhdeh, it was based on three basic provisions, including building a party state in Armenia, undoubtedly led by the RPA and its own representatives or followers of Nzhdeh. There were also provisions for creating of living space for the Armenian nation, uniting the territories of neighboring states, and, lastly, separating Armenians and Turkic-Muslim peoples. However, unlike Hitler, the Armenian nationalists began first to conquer living space, and then to create a party state.
The former ruling Republican Party of Armenia, which was based on the nationalist ideology of Garegin Nzhdeh, further deepened the process of Ter-Harutyunyan’s large- scale cult. Armenian textbooks describe in detail the life path and activities of Garegin Nzhdeh. His works were repeatedly republished and promoted, and books were and continue to be published in his honor. To strengthen his image in the collective memory of Armenians, a square and a metro station were constructed in Yerevan, a monument (including quotes by Nzhdeh) was solemnly unveiled, coins were minted, and Armenian feature films and documentaries are periodically shot. In different regions of Armenia, the memory of “the great national hero Garegin Nzhdeh” is commemorated in different ways.
An event commemorating the “victims” of the April 2016 battle, which was accompanied by patriotic songs, biographical information about Nzhdeh, and performances of excerpts from a film about Garegin Nzhdeh. Source: http://gn- school8.blogspot.com/2016/05/blog-post.html
Unveiling of the bust of Garegin Nzhdeh at the school named after him. Source: https://youtube.com/watch?v=SS5_nsFqvhk&ab_channel=ԳոռՂազարյան
Interestingly, after the end of the Second Karabakh War, the Armenian opposition began a funeral procession in honor of those killed during the hostilities. This began at Garegin Nzhdeh Square in Yerevan and went right up to the Yerablur memorial complex.
Below is a quote from Nzhdeh, posted on an Armenian news portal, embodying open hatred towards the Turks (Armenians quite often refer to Azerbaijanis as Turks): “There should not be a single day without fighting a Turk.” It should be remembered that, according to Nzhdeh’s theory, the Turks are the enemy of the race.
It is also worth remembering that, when the author of the book Black Garden, Thomas de Waal, asked the chairman of the committee of the so-called self-defense forces of the Karabakh Armenians, later the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, to disclose details about the capture of Khojaly, he noted: “We don’t speak loudly about these things,” but, nevertheless, then added:
But I think the main point is something different. Before Khojaly, Azerbaijanis thought that we were joking with them, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype], and that’s what happened.
After mass protests in Armenia in 2018, the opposition leader and the head of the protest movement, Nikol Pashinyan, became the Prime Minister of Armenia. At first glance he seemed quite competent and constructive, instilling hope for a peaceful resolution of the almost thirty-year-old Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The new prime minister declared himself to be the first official and head of the government who, unlike all previous leaders, would respect and take into account the “interest of Azerbaijanis.” Despite this, after some time, Nikol Pashinyan started to become known for a number of radical populist statements, including “Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] is Armenia, full stop,” which caused negative responses from both the Azerbaijani side and the international community. More provocations followed, including the military actions launched by Armenia on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Tovuz, which had no connection with the line of contact and, according to Pashinyan, dispelled “the Azerbaijani myth that the Azerbaijani army can defeat the Armenian army.” At the root of this statement lay the main concept of this report, which is that Armenians put themselves above others and, most importantly, Azerbaijanis, as a result of which, referring to Armenian logic, Azerbaijanis simply cannot defeat the Armenians—purely due to their nature.
This particular narrative achieved a wide reach on Armenian social networks, with each instance insulting and belittling the Azerbaijani people. The Armenians shared various photographs or self-made images with different themes, but the condescending meaning remained the same.
Another ramification of Pashinyan’s narrative was the presentation of the Armenian– Azerbaijani conflict as a war on religious grounds, or a civilizational war of “Armenia against nonhumans (terrorists, barbarians, bandits, devils).” Here, one can clearly see the dichotomy, according to which the civilized and cultured representatives of the highest (super) race, the Armenians, have to fight against a “lower people,” the non/subhumans, barbarians, and nomads that are Azerbaijanis.
In particular, during the Second Karabakh War, these key expressions—“terrorists,” “bandits,” “barbarians,” and “devils”—began to be used both by the regular Armenian population and politicians and officials, as well as celebrities. In order to attract the attention of a wide audience among the international community, the Armenians transferred the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict to a new level, using a very successful foreign policy of “victimization,” in particular “[being the] victims of genocide.” Thus, the war was supposedly unleashed with a target of the “Armenian nation” and “bringing to completion the Armenian genocide.”
The author of the provocative statement “new war for new territories,” former defense minister David Tonoyan, who threatened Azerbaijan with “dire consequences” after the defeat of Armenia in the Second Karabakh War, voiced a new narrative that Armenia did not actually fight with Azerbaijan and that is it was not Azerbaijan that defeated Armenia (because according to the Armenian narrative, victory is “beyond Azerbaijan’s power,” as Azerbaijanis do not know how to fight):
According to the minister’s estimates, the Armenian army had to fight not with Azerbaijan, but with a completely new geopolitical situation that went beyond the region. Since Turkey was involved in the hostilities, which transferred a huge amount of equipment to Baku in July-August. And in this war of the 5th generation, the Armenian army, in his opinion, did the impossible, destroying 6-7 drones per day, and a large number of enemy equipment. Thus, the struggle was not with Azerbaijan, but with its allies and suppliers, who supplied it in huge quantities.
“Azerbaijan will face dire consequences from the actions of the Artsakh’s Defense Army”: David Tonoyan (VIDEO)
Simultaneously, the officials were also promoting the narrative of Azerbaijanis being “non-human” or “subhuman.” During the Second Karabakh War, David Babayan, recently appointed to the so-called position of “foreign minister” of the Karabakh Armenians, expressed the opinion that “non-humans” are fighting against the Karabakh Armenians: “Non-humans are fighting against the people of Artsakh, and talking about any of their human qualities is not necessary.” Then Babayan emotionally repeats: “But anyway, we will break them.” The same narrative can also be found on Armenian news portals.
“Monkey with a grenade. Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan”. Source: https://markosyan-usik.livejournal.com/269342.html
During the Second Karabakh War, some news portals published articles about the Ministry of Defense of Armenia allocating a significant amount of money to conducting propaganda operations against Azerbaijan. Accordingly, on the website of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia, in the section covering “Purchases,” a tender request for 20 million (meaning rubles) for spreading images demoralizing Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people was discovered. Soon, the Russian forum Dvach was declared the winner of the tender and started to fulfill the order in their section about “politics.” According to the news portal, several hundred specially hired graphic designers were being financed to create provocative images that were further used by Armenian internet trolls on social networks such as Twitter and VKontakte. The key one, according to the materials investigated, is “Aзep Бapaн” (“Azeri Sheep”).
Hostility in the discourse of Armenian politicians, public figures and activists
The self-exaltation of Armenians and simultaneous belittling of Azerbaijanis is also observed in the statements, personal statuses and declarations of Armenian politicians, activists, and public figures. In total, the statements can be divided into four main types, or narratives:
- humiliation and dehumanization (Azerbaijanis = non-humans)
- religious (war against the Christian world)
- civilizational (civilization against the terrorists)
- the policy of carrying out “genocide against the Armenians”
Humiliation and dehumanization (azerbaijanis = non-humans/subhumans)
In the following image, Armenian opposition leader Edmon Marukyan has shared a photo that portrays the brave Armenians who defend their people against the “cowardly” Azerbaijanis (more precisely, the Azerbaijani army) who are placing the Azerbaijani civilian population against the Armenian army. Even more interesting is the hashtag through which one can find similar images: #HumanityVsAzerbaijan, or Humanity opposed to Azerbaijan, is a vivid example of the dehumanization of the country and the Azerbaijani people in general. It should be noted that there are over 22,340 subscribers to Edmond Marukyan’s Facebook page.
It is interesting to observe the author of a book titled Armenophobia in Azerbaijan and a number of other, similar works: Anzhela Elibegova.
This person, who has been trying so carefully to prove the presence of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan, herself repeatedly dehumanizes, belittles, and devalues Azerbaijanis. During the hostilities in October of last year, after another ceasefire agreement, Elibegova shared a status on her Facebook page in which she belittled the Azerbaijani people and asked “can anyone explain to the Azeris (Azerbaijanis) what a ceasefire is and how it is necessary to act in this case?”
That is, in this case, the Azerbaijanis are so “uninformed, uneducated, and ignorant” that they do not understand the essence and do not follow the ceasefire agreement (in contrast to the “civilized, erudite, and cultural representatives of the highest race”: Armenians).
Armenian singer Sofi Mkheyan was also quite active during the war and the post-war period. The singer, who compares Azerbaijanis to the devil, shared revanchist quotes after the war, including one by Garegin Nzhdeh, stating: “Nowhere without Syunik and Artsakh. Without this strong backbone of geographic Armenia, our integral homeland cannot exist.”
Sedrak Mkrtchyan tweeted about how Azerbaijani trolls took an Armenian poster, modified it, and used it as propaganda. At the end, Mkrtchyan notes “Wait for new posters to steal and use, losers.”
Aram Abrahamyan on the difference between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, or, rather, the advantages of Armenians over the latter: Armenians, in this context, are those who understand what they are fighting for (again, the mental superiority of Armenians stands out), while ignorant Azerbaijanis are those who were forced to go to the battlefield (without realizing), or those who came to fight for money in place of Azerbaijanis. Again, there is a belittling of Azerbaijan as a nation that does not know how to fight and is illiterate; in other words, a nation of the lowest race and class.
The second narrative that can be singled out is about this being a war in which Armenians are fighting against anyone other than Azerbaijanis. Thus, the Armenians insist that the Azerbaijanis simply do not possess those characteristics required to defeat them.
Aram Abrahamyan: “Freedom is one of the criteria that characterizes the difference between us and Azerbaijan and, ultimately, I think, is our advantage. Who will fight better at the front and in the rear, the one who understands what he is fighting for, or the one who was forced to go to the battlefield or brought from the Syrian desert with vague promises of 1000–2000 dollars? When a state is guided by a terrorist logic, it has something to hide from its people and the world, and it tries to limit the dissemination of information:
The wildest manifestation of this approach is shooting at journalists. It doesn’t matter whether the so-called “civilized world” shares our approaches or not, is on our side or on the side of the terrorists. We are who we are and we will follow our principles, regardless of who in the world thinks, just like we do.”
Journalist and activist Tigran Mazmanyan: “Let’s say you captured Matagis (in your dreams and imagination), but the loss of equipment, which is numbered at more than 2,700 soldiers in 7 days of fighting, is a great success? Total sheep. Night without loss.”
At the same time, one of the influencers of the public consciousness in Armenia, Mazmanyan, uses the hashtag “Baku is Armenia” in all the selected screenshots.
“Iskander go reach Baku. They are not sitting still. The time has come.”
A member of the Armenian National Assembly from the “Prosperous Armenia” party sharing the status of Hripsime Arakelian (an excerpt from the new “Kill Dim” video, with a caption “go to sleep” and additional racist hashtags), writing in agreement: “That’s it.”
Khripsime Arakelyan, sharing a video reportage of Azerbaijanis, describes them as “sheep.”
Tigran Kocharian: “There are two types of people in Armenia: those who demand either the resignation or the arrest of Pashinyan and the Azeris.”
Humiliation and dehumanization can be best exemplified by a book from Armenian author Nina Maksi, Baku-90: Or how Janna Babayan was eaten, in which she depicts Azerbaijanis as cannibals, animals, non-humans or subhumans. This is how Maksi presents her book: “My book is based on certain events that took place in the Soviet Azerbaijan (USSR) from 1988 to 1990. These events are known all over the planet. An outrage upon humanity. Nazism – The genocide, atrocious annihilation of the Armenian civilian population in the Soviet Azerbaijan (USSR) was preplanned by Baku ruling circles. They even had a scenario of the bloody mass murder of the Armenians. Terrorism, genocide of peaceful, civilian Armenians during two years – Two-year genocide, two-year terrorism – It should be observed that genocide is the extreme form of terrorism. And only villains could commit such crimes. Those monsters would savagely kill the civilian unarmed Armenians regardless of their sex and age; they would spare neither infants, nor old people, nor women. Crowds of five thousand dishonest and impudent cowards, armed murderers carried out pogroms in civilian Armenians’ houses. I have no doubt that there will come a day when history will put everything into place. And we should always remember that the Armenians with their ancient, many- thousand-year old civilization are the only Christians at the foot of Mount Ararat.”
Armen Darbinyan shares the status of Henrikh Margaryan, where he lists the students of the Russian-Armenian University who died in the war, expressing hope and belief in future revenge for them.
Artem Yerkanyan: “Let noble wrath boil over like a wave. This is the people’s war, a holy war.”
Artem Yerkanyan shares a status from Gayane Breiova: “Do not trust a woman, do not trust a Turk, and do not trust a non-drinker” (Peter I).
“When within a month you understand about Kars, how the genocide occurred, why Andranik presented Nakhchivan to the Soviet Union and the main part, you understand why Nzhdeh created the Republic of Mountainous Armenia.”
“The price of every Armenian blood should call for revenge and anger, not despair”
Tigran Virabyan: “For you, Karabakh is a territory, but for us, a holy homeland. The motives for the war are completely different, and the psychological attitude of the soldiers is also different. In general, we are not against the end, because we are seriously thinking about the return of our Nakhchivan and Gandzak [Ganja].”
Arman Aratunyan: “Very well said,” sharing Eduard Ambartsumyan’s status: “10 million Azeris and 80 million Turks against 3 million Armenians. The forces are clearly not equal. We are much stronger!”
“Oh, dear nation, we are talking about sheep”
Religious (war against the christian world)
One of the most widespread narratives in the Armenian discourse is the attempt to link the war with religion. This narrative also gained wide traction in the Armenian diaspora, where representatives skillfully connect and use Christian fundamentalism to achieve their goals, as well as to create hostility against Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis (especially given the difficult geopolitical situation in the world).
Presented below is a project of one of the most active lobbying groups of Armenians in the United States, the Armenian Missionary Association of America, calling on Christians to “stand with the first Christian state.”
Former Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, Vice-Chairman and Member of the Executive Council of the Republican Party of Armenia, Armen Ashotyan, shared excerpts from the Bible in three languages on his personal Facebook page during the war, in this way presenting the war as religious (God will help the Armenians , but will not help the devils – Azerbaijanis).
Diplomat Tigran Balayan: “As President of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors in The Hague, I express my complete solidarity with our French friends, who, like us, are fighting terrorism.” Despite the fact that in the recording Balayan focuses on the mutual fight against terrorism, he, at the same time, latently emphasizes the religious aspect, choosing and sharing images of churches.
Armenian singer Sophie Mkheyan: “Lord, save us from the devil.” By the devil, Mkheyan means Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis.
Another popular photo on Armenian social networks, trying to link the Second Karabakh War to religion.
Civilizational (civilization against the terrorists)
Trying to manipulate the opinion of the international community, Armenia, taking into account the new realities, created a completely different approach to the military operations, thus attracting the attention of foreign, in particular Western, countries in an attempt to gain support and the desired
outcome. Armen Ashotyan made the following appeal to the countries to which Azerbaijan supplies gas: “Remember: every time you light the gas oven in your house, it’s heated not by Azerbaijani gas, but by the blood of innocent Armenians of Nagorno- Karabakh.”
Anzhela Elibegova: “So, Gandzasar was saved from the Azerbaijani barbarians.”
Abraham Gasparyan: “I will reveal all the secret conversations of terrorists.”
The policy of carrying out “genocide against the Armenians”
Another method of manipulation was a fictional narrative about the so-called “genocidal policy of Azerbaijanis who want to complete what was started 100 years ago.”
Ruben Mkhitaryan: “Today, just like 30 years ago, the front line passes in front of every Armenian house, and it doesn’t matter where we live—in Artsakh, in Armenia, or if we represent a multi-million diaspora. Turkey and Azerbaijan with mercenaries from Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, as well as Israel, which supplies weapons to Azerbaijan with
the same systematicity like bread in the store in the mornings, are trying to exterminate another generation of Armenians living on their land. We know firsthand that the world went blind 100 years ago. The Armenian Genocide is a century-old proof of this. But as long as at least a couple of Armenian eyes can see, they will shoot and destroy anyone who tries to cross our threshold with weapons in hand.”
Hate speech, hostility and dehumanization of Azerbaijanis by Armenians in social media
FIGURE 1: NON-HUMANS
The image of Azerbaijanis as subhuman, or non-human, is very deeply immersed in the consciousness of Armenians. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the term “dehumanization” has taken on a number of loosely related meanings, including:
- to humiliate others; or, in a more Kantian spirit, treat them “merely as a means”
- verbal comparison of others with non-human animals or inanimate objects
- denial of subjectivity, individuality, free will, or the purely human qualities of others
- denial that others have a mental state
- treating others in a way that destroys, obstructs, or eliminates some of their inherent human qualities
- perceiving others as inanimate objects
- perception of others as less human than members of one’s own group
- perceiving others as subhuman
Regarding Azerbaijanis as non-humans is not something new; the trend has been observed for quite a long time. For example, the popular Davidian Gregory’s blog has been regularly sharing posts with radically offensive connotations. For ethical reasons, only comparatively permissible and censored examples from the blog are given here (taking into account the insults and humiliation towards Azerbaijanis, which do not fit any ethical framework).
In the section “Azerbaijanis—non-humans,” the authors include a number of anecdotes that clearly express the essence of the above-described attitude of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis. In the following joke, for example, the ridicule is based on how a brick fell on the head of an Azerbaijani, and that an Azerbaijani is not a person at all: “— What an outrage! What if a human being was passing ?!” Similar content can be observed in the other anecdotes below.
“Two Muscovites are talking:
- Can you imagine, yesterday a balcony collapsed in Moscow—a person even died!
- Horrifying! They’ve built so many balconies that there is no place for a person to pass! Who died?
- So many Azeris—nowhere for the balcony to fall!”
“A rabbit and a skunk meet. Rabbit asks:
- Who am I?
- You are white, with a fluffy tail—that means you are a rabbit! And who am I?
- You? You are black and smelly—that means you are Azeri!”
“Azerbaijanis and literacy
“Armenian radio is asking:
- How to hide money from an Azeri?
- Put it in a
“A Bakuvian drops by a book shop:
- Do you have books?
- Give me two.
“One Bakuvian asks another:
- Have you read Shakespeare?
- Who is the author?”
Amalya Mkrtchyan: “Proof of who we are and who Azeri sheep were and still are” [Kars, Armenia 1910: Caucasian Tatars “Azerbaijanis” Baku 1912]
FIGURE 2: “SHEEP”
The next image, complementary to the first of “non-humans,” is the image of “sheep”— perhaps the most widespread image of Azerbaijanis among Armenians. Calling Azerbaijanis “sheep” is widespread across all strata of Armenian society, that is, this narrative can be stumbled upon everywhere in the Armenian media. Below are materials collected from different videos and social media posts. The bottom line is that, regardless of the unconditional propaganda from the authorities, dehumanization and hate speech are already embedded in the minds of Armenians without needing the frequent maintenance of the “enemy narrative.” The first Karabakh war further strengthened the self-esteem and self-confidence of the Armenians, after which the emphasis was placed on how “uneducated, weak, stupid, and ignorant barbarians Azerbaranians who cannot fight” are.
This video of Azerbaijanis protesting for Karabakh was re-dubbed by Armenians so that, instead of the protesters’ voices, screaming sheep voices were added. In the attached screenshot from Facebook, an Armenian user has shared this video, stating that this is the only case when he agrees with “Azeris” and that the words (meaning sheep noises) shouted by them are right.
During the Second Karabakh War, there was a sharp increase in the number of pages created by Armenians using the keyword “Azerbaran,” a play on the Russian word for sheep (бaрaн).
The term was also frequently used by news channels on Telegram.
“Kill Dim Production”
Kill Dim Production—an animation studio filming satirical cartoons about Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers on the front lines—openly expressed xenophobic sentiments against Azerbaijanis with extremely racist content. The Armenians themselves describe the animated series as “a cartoon about the stupidity of an Azerbaijani soldier who finds himself in all sorts of funny situations due to the preparation of his government.” The Azerbaijanis in the cartoon are shown, among other things, in the form of “sheep.”
Cartoons from the Kill Dim series were released from 2010 until, due to the calls for aggression, as noted by the platform’s administrators, the official YouTube channel was closed. The creator of the animations is David Sahakyants, the son of cartoonist Robert Sahakyants, who, like his son, is known for his Armenian nationalism, and has been since the time of the Soviet Union. For example, not long ago a cartoon was posted on the official YouTube channel Teremok describing how “destroying all living things on their way, the Turks destroyed the cities and villages of the Persians, Armenians, Assyrians.” The cartoon was soon either deleted or blocked.
A new cartoon series was released during the Second Karabakh War, with the now famous hashtag “we will win.”
This report has demonstrated the attitudes of Armenians towards the Azerbaijani nation through the prism of not only hate speech, but also dehumanization, sarcasm, and latent methods of propagating the hostility that the government has been endorsing for a long time. Switching to a latent means of hate promotion was necessitated after harsh criticism from European institutions in response to the policy of hate speech and hostility conducted across several decades. As can be seen from this study, the Armenian government has, for some time now, been trying to eliminate the radical manifestation of hate speech at the official level, limiting it to expressions such as “terrorists, barbarians, bandits, and aggressors.” What is important to consider is the exaltation of Armenians while completely ignoring or belittling the opposing side. The policy of exaltation is carried out at the official level: it is present, in a far more than token way, in modern Armenian textbooks; narratives, both official and unofficial; and in the daily lexicon, as well as in other means of self-representation in the international arena.
The report lists four prevailing narratives that include humiliation and dehumanization, religious, civilizational, and “genocidal” aspects that are extensively used as tools for spreading hostility in Armenia, among the diaspora, and beyond. These narratives predominate and directly affect the level of radicalism within the population, thereby causing a stream of hate speech, widely manifested via sarcastic posts, memes, images, and status posts on various social media platforms. The chapter covering the reactions and attitudes of the Armenian population highlights two main figures: that of a sheep and that of a subhuman, both of which are also seen in the narratives of Armenian politicians, public figures, and activists. Armenians, who glorify themselves in this context, describe themselves as lions, eagles, the civilized, exceptional, and well- educated; they are the “Armenians [that] cannot be defeated.” A younger Armenian generation grows up on these narratives is growing accustomed to humiliating, belittling, and insulting Azerbaijanis while highlighting their own “superiority and uniqueness.”
For three decades now, Azerbaijan and the international community have been striving to establish peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan while Armenia continues stubbornly to reject all possible means of reconciliation. Instead, the Armenian government has continued to incite ethnic strife, which resulted in another war between the two countries. As the research presented here has shown, hostility was clearly manifested not only in the pre-war period and during the war, but it also continues to exist in the post-war period. The erection of a monument to Garegin Nzhdeh in Azerbaijani Khojavend by Karabakh Armenians, the act of burning Azerbaijani and Turkish flags, or how the diaspora Armenians of the United States, putting an Azerbaijani flag on a stuffed doll, literally performed a “hanging ceremony” on it, along with open calls for revanchism and a new war from all strata of Armenian society, are clear indicators of the preservation or, more precisely, strengthening of hostility of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis.
The same trend was also observed in the intensity of expression of hate speech. Thus, we can conclude that neither the Armenian government (which, even though it talks about establishing relationships, is at the same time radicalizing its population), nor the Armenians, whose consciousness is formed by Zori Balayan, Silva Kaputikyan, Garegin Nzhdeh, and similar influencers, nor the Armenians of the Diaspora, sometimes even more radical than those listed above, are ready for an open dialogue. Referring to the results obtained, the Armenians consider themselves a chosen people, unique and superior to their opponent, while the Azerbaijanis are “uneducated,” “uncivilized,” “subhuman,” and “sheep,” impossible to negotiate with. Hence, for Armenians, there is only one solution to the conflict—acceptance of the Armenian realities by Azerbaijanis, which is the only thing they believe can effect a change in the “attitude of Armenians towards Azerbaijanis.”