Chapter 17. Azerichild.info
Children acquire behavioral stereotypes in the early years of their lives, i.e. the sense of
affiliation to an ethnic group is not innate but is gained through socialization.
The shaping of the national identity conventionally occurs in three stages.
1) At the age of 6-7, a child gains his/her first knowledge, albeit fragmentary and
unsystematic, of his/her ethnic affiliation. At this stage, the child's family and immediate
social environment have the utmost significance for the child rather than his/her country
and ethnic group.
2) At the age of 8-9, a child already clearly identifies himself/herself with his/her state, can
recognize the fundamentals of such identification (the nationality of his/her parents, the
place of residence and the mother tongue); dormant national feelings surface.
3) At the age of 10-11, the national identity is fully shaped, the child knows the peculiarities
of various peoples and can designate the uniqueness of their history, the specific character
of their daily life, including their ethnic culture.
Over the course of his/her life any person acquires a multitude of stereotypes about other
ethnic groups, nations and peoples. In the event of children, the shaping of stereotypes
bears the impact of the older generation and parents as detailed in the foregoing chapter.
This fertile soil is cemented by the state propaganda at the next stage. Over time, ethnic
stereotypes become so perpetuated in the mind of a child that it is extremely hard to
abandon them even if there is a wish to do so and an awareness of the problem. In the
events where the reference groups continue to exert pressure on the individual by planting
these stereotypes, it becomes virtually impossible to get rid of them.
The individual may be under the impression that his/her views of any given ethnic group
represent a personal opinion where in fact, he/she re-circulates the opinion of his/her reputed
reference group (ethnic group, people). The ethnic stereotypes mostly manifest themselves
on subconscious level; however, they can imperceptibly affect the self-awareness of the
person. One such manifestation consists in perceiving information matching the ingrained
mindset and confirming the stereotype, while rejecting everything else.
The education is one of the most efficient ways of instilling the "image of the enemy" in the
public mind. The teacher is an authority in the eyes of a pupil, while the information derived
from books is perceived by the children as an indisputable truth and is instantaneously
assimilated without any critical analysis. The statements of the teacher become even more convincing for the children if these are not at odds with their views and stereotypes
imported to school from their families, television programs, fellow peers in the courtyard,
Thus, it can be claimed that children and teenagers represent the most vulnerable group
most exposed to the anti-Armenian propaganda in Azerbaijan. Such state policy further
exacerbates the ethno-religious, cultural and territorial conflict between the two nations.
Numerous fairy tales and children's drawings appearing on the website of Azerichild.info
project which clearly reflect the image of the Armenian enemy and virtually always portray
Armenians as negative characters give an example of a product of the armenophobic
propaganda among the children of Azerbaijan. The main subject of the children's drawings
is the brutal killing of the Azerbaijani children and women by the Armenian military.
Let us examine a specific example: the story entitled Armenian[a] recognized by Azerbaijan's
Ministry of Youth and Sports as the Story of the Year in 2008 and authored by Elkhan Zeynalli,
member of the Union of Azerbaijani Writers contains 65 instances of negative depiction of
Armenians manifested through the use of various clichés, such as: "blood-sucker", "base",
"double-faced", "kill all Armenian dogs", "set all Armenian men on fire", "rape all Armenian
women", "strangle the Armenian children", "inhuman Armenians", etc. Instead, all references
to the Azerbaijanis are exclusively in the positive vein with 23 favorable epithets, such as:
"forgiving", "kind", "respectful of parents", "courageous", "friendly", "caring", "tolerant",
This story, which arouses hostility and contains unabashed armenophobic propaganda, is
incorporated into Azerbaijan's school curriculum for home reading.
Overall, the study of about 50 literary works and 100 children's drawings has revealed that
the state indoctrination of the propaganda against Armenians occurs at an early age in
Azerbaijan. Constantly recurring negative rhetoric can exert and impact even on adults, let
alone on yet immature minds of children.
It is of note that such propaganda of hatred and the emotive character of the communicated
information reflect the covert fears of the Azerbaijani society, with the country's domestic
situation projected onto the Armenian society. In their turn, the aggressive exhortations
and labeling help cope on the verbal level with psychological problems and the inferiority
complex inherited from the time of Azerbaijan's defeat in the Karabakh war.
However, raising their children in the spirit of hatred, aggression and hostility, the authorities
of Azerbaijan foster an individual who can become perilous for their own society, as in the
absence of other targets for venting his/her aggression such individual will take revenge on
the weak: their wives/husbands, children, old people, etc. Alcohol, drugs and suicide can
also become a vent. In today's Azerbaijan, all of these categories display a statistic spike.
Another emblematic point is that the Armenians appear on the drawings as formidable
warriors brandishing weapons. This means that the image of Armenians formed in the
child's mind portrays a powerful, united and militarized enemy eliciting, as a result, fear of
this image. And if in peacetime this image of Armenians helps consolidate the Azerbaijani
society, in wartime, the fear of the image can become a serious problem. The Azerbaijani
authorities may not realize that such propaganda thwarts the society's natural psychological
development, generates socially dangerous individuals and reduces the combat efficiency
of the army.
|Paintings of azerbaijani pupils
|Made mostly in bright colors, red is distinguishing, which indicates the presence of aggression. O the Left is depicted the military in Soviet form, who is going to kill the peaceful Azerbaijani family, not sparing neither women nor children.
||The painting shows the inscription "Khojaly" laid from burning buildings. This picture predominantly made in red, aggressive colors. The painting depicts the Armenian tanks, surrounded on all four sides "Khojaly" and shoot on houses in fire of Azerbaijanis.
|In the painting are depicted "the events in Khojalu." Armenian in the guise of a monster with bloody dagger in one hand, in other hand - a bomb with an inscription «Ermeni» («Armenian"). The tip and the tongue of monster's dagger are bleeding, that blood fills the whole city. From the painting, it is clear that the child associate the Armenians with the monsters, who drowns his homeland in the blood.
||People in the military Uniform with weapons in arms attacked peaceful citizens, killing one of them, while the enemy tank is trying to raze the car of azerbaijani. Peaceful azerbaijanis standing with outstretched hands in the air, hoping to make concessions, cooperation.
|Mariam Hakhnazaryan, holder of a master's degree from the Chair of Social Psychology
of the Yerevan State University.
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