Chapter 4. Ban on Armenian names
The custom of banning names is quite common in the world. Such bans have their rationale
based on the interests of children, protection of the current ideology and set of values.
Thus, many countries have a strict state-regulated procedure for assigning names to the
children by their parents who often chase the tendencies in vogue and choose quite exotic
names, such as: Kanalizatsia, Tractor, Lucifer, Number 16 Bus Shelter, Biological Object
Human descendant of the Voronins and Frolovs born on June 26, 2002, digital names, etc.
For instance, China has long maintained a ban on naming children after representatives
of the imperial family, particularly those of the dynasty in power; such names had to be
changed. Some countries taboo names related to religious views; for instance, certain
countries place a ban on such names as Lucifer and alike.
The restrictions and bans in Azerbaijan have to deal with the ethnic origin of the name.
In 2011, the Academy of Sciences and the Government of Azerbaijan approved a principle
of the traffic light, according to which the state authorities themselves determine the list
of trustworthy and prohibited names for children that Azerbaijan parents can choose from.
The Director of the Institute of Information Technologies of ANAS, Rasim Aliguliyev, has
noted that based on the principle of the traffic light, the names which "correspond to the
national, cultural and ideological values of Azerbaijan" will be included in the green list and
can be assigned without any restrictions.
The second category will be comprised of names included in the yellow list. These names
are neither desirable nor recommended; they cause derision and sound inappropriate in
Names of the third category will be included in the red list; assigning of these names will not
be allowed. "Such names include the names of persons who have perpetrated aggression
against the people of Azerbaijan, names whose meaning is offensive in the Azerbaijani
Armenian names were included in the red list of prohibited names. According to Rasim
Aliguliyev, "it is unacceptable in Azerbaijan to name your baby Andranik". That comes
to say that if a Lezgin wants to name his son Arsen - a name very popular both among
Armenians and Lezgins, or if a Talysh wants to name his son Armin - a name quite popular
among both Armenian and Talysh people, he will have to apply to the commission for a
Russian names, too, came under attack. According to Sayali Sagidova,the chairman of the
Commission, "not every Azerbaijani family would marry their daughter off to somebody
named Dmitry". A ban will be also placed on such names as Maria, Ekaterina, Alya and
other Russian names.
Also, a special commission of the National Academy of Sciences approved a bill imposing
changes in the last names used in Azerbaijan where endings with -ov and -ev would be
substituted by their Turkicized variants of -lu, -li, -beyli, etc.
Nizami Jafarov, Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Committee on Cultural Issues,
when asked how this new law would affect the national minorities of Azerbaijan, such as
Lezgins, Talysh, Avars, Tats and representatives of other ethnic groups gave this answer:
"The question on the agenda is as follows; every person who considers himself/herself
Azerbaijani - and most of the ethnic minorities of Azerbaijan have merged with the
Azerbaijani people and consider themselves Azerbaijani - will have to change his/her last
This lays a very interesting groundwork not only for fast-tracking the assimilation processes
of the indigenous population of Azerbaijan, but is in direct contravention of the country's
declared set of values, such as tolerance and cultural diversity, the commitment to which
the myth of 30,000 Armenians living on the territory of Azerbaijan purports to illustrate.
It appears that the ethnic Armenians who live today on the territory of Azerbaijan are
automatically divested of any chance to keep and develop their cultural traditions by
naming their children Andranik[a], Armen, Hrayr or alike.
Azerbaijan's appetite for integration of the Armenian-populated territory of Nagorno-
Karabakh inevitably leads to a series of conclusions, such as:
(a) Armenians of Karabakh and citizens of Azerbaijan will be prohibited from using
their own ethnic names entered into the red list. This will violate their rights, or they
will be outlawed;
(b) Azerbaijan is working out an option of returning Karabakh without Armenians
populating its territory which means that they will have to face a forceful assimilation
or banishment, which is in contradiction of the promised concept of the widest
(c) The Azerbaijani power elite have ceased to view Karabakh as an integral part
of their country on a subconscious level; therefore, in adopting certain laws, they
completely disregard the interests of the population which itself has long lost the
feeling of affiliation with Azerbaijan.
It is noteworthy that the Azerbaijanis themselves, despite their claims of individual ethnic
identity, lack traditional Azerbaijani ethnic names. These names can be exclusively traced
back to: Arabic roots, adapted through Islam (Seid, Seyran, Ali, Vugar, Rasim, Zia, Ilham),
Iranian roots (Panah, Nariman, Bahram, Rovshan, Siyavush, Azar) and Armenian roots
(Mayis). The Iranian-speaking Talysh people bear ethnic names from pre-Islamic period,
such as: Zardusht[b], Kadus[c], Zabil, Kekul, Shali, Chessaret, Ferin, Revane, and Sherebanu. The
practice of using names common for all Turkic people from Altai to Turkey, such as Ogtay,
Elnur, Atakhan, Elshan, Altay has been introduced but a few decades ago which is at odds
with the concept of genuine ethnic names.
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[a] Armenian male name meaning 'firstborn'.
[b] The European variants: Zoroaster, Zarathustra
[c] Etnonym of a people which were the ancestors of modern Talysh and Cadusians and once inhabited the Caspian Sea region