Chapter 10. Dehumanization and demonization of Armenians
The "enemy" appears as a visitant form the "antiworld", an alien inverted space, and is
portrayed as a being of "demonic" origin, knave or rogue.
Amrali Ismailov: Armenians are the only nation on earth whose conscience and body
retained the traces of curses hundreds and thousands year old, branded forever with
Arlene Audergon in her book The War Hotel: Psychological Dynamics in Violent Conflict gives this definition of terror tactics: "Dehumanization is a widely used tactics which
consists in depicting a person or a group of persons as vermin to be destroyed".
"Dehumanization is a language of threats and violence.
It makes the human being less sensitive and more imperturbable, apathetic and indifferent;
it facilitates the killing and makes it look legitimate".
The tactic of dehumanization subdues humanity, sensitivity, sympathy and receptivity to
events. In this setting, people may actively pour scorn upon the dehumanized group and
show willingness to commit atrocities against it.
Thedemonization, in its turn, stokes up the society's fear of the unknown.
Demonization of the image is an instrument of propaganda used to shape public opinion
and create deeply ingrained stereotypes about a person, group, state ideology or a concept.
The political dictionary defines the concept of demonization as portrayal of the subject as
a being apt by its nature for immoral and antisocial behavior possessing some supernatural
and sometimes magical powers to carry out its immoral role and appearing as a source of
perils and troubles for others as well as inciting them to engage in an immoral conduct.
The demonization suggests and lays down the response to one of the eternal questions:
who is to blame? In a society ruled by an elite internally bound by mutual and collective
responsibility and protection, the notions of demonizing and giving somebody away have
become all but synonyms. It significantly facilitates removing from the agenda the 'What
to do?' question and makes it possible to abdicate all responsibility for the situation at
between opponents. However, there are many factors attesting to the fact that it is used
10. Dehumanization and demonization of Armenians to mask the real problem, a red herring to divert attention, and betrays an internal lack of
confidence and fear, primarily in respect of the inner circle, whose ire needs to be channeled
away elsewhere against an "alien" foe, so as to retain their loyalty.
Seeking to apportion blame externally is typical of vulnerable groups who are not willing to
face the problem and refute their personal role in causing it to happen.
Strictly speaking, it is an instrument of creating a climate of fear where people are demonized
based on a specific characteristic: ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical capacity,
etc. Its main goal is to plant fear, breed and fuel hatred and disdain for a specific category of
persons; it also seeks to convince others that those who possess a specific set of traits that
embody evil must be punished.
Demonization is intentional and deliberate shaping of a negative image based on cultivation
of myths with injections of 'real' details (personal experience, reference to a first-hand
account from a third person, description of details, indication of names, etc.).
This practice was widely used in Nazi Germany for the development of the racial theory.
In Azerbaijan, the shaping of the Armenian image has been analogous with the infamous
notions on the Jewish people.
A German children's book dated 1936:
Devil is the father of Jews. When God created
the world, he created races: Indians, Negroes, Chinese, as well as vicious creatures
called the Jews.
Azerbaijani children's book dated 2011: < …> a futureless nation with а dead
morality, with a mixture of rubbish and waste flowing in their veins, a spiteful and
despicable nation <... >. This restless nation, with the satanic blood running in their
veins, has committed against us countless acts of terror.
The recent decades spawned a panoply of writers, public and political figures, painters and
journalists whose activities serve to demonize Armenians.
Here, several reasons can be isolated for using the instrument of demonization for instilling
There are several genres for demonizing Armenians:
"Confessions of Armenians themselves". These are letters, diaries and literary works
by fictitious persons describing the
"atrocities", containing confessions and revealing
mechanisms of "anti-Azerbaijani" deeds:
Extracts from the book by Daud Heyriyan:[a] < …> By the time Khachatur and I entered the basement where they kept them, our soldiers had already nailed the child's
elbows to the window frame. < …> Khachatur shoved into his mouth the severed
breast of his dead mother. Next, I did to the 13-year-old Turk what his ancestors had
done to our children. I scalped him and flayed his chest and belly. In the evening, we
did the same to another three of the Turkic spawn. < …> On the next day, we went
to church and prayed for those who fell in 1915 asking to cleanse our souls from the
filth that we had seen the day before.
Extracts from the diary of Armen Balasanyan:[b] One feels differently in Ejmiadzin.
We made an offering of doves at the sacrificial wall. I did it for my mother too. She is
afraid of doing this; she has a bad heart. She cannot watch it as doves get smashed
against the wall. This is our old custom of offering sacrifice. Before, I couldn't watch
the scene myself, but later I was explained that this must be done (if you are a man[c])»).
'Personal involvement or eyewitness account' of the episode described, with a reservation
that no proof survived, and the report must be taken on trust:
"A few hours before us, poor refugees, who were the bulk of the city's fleeing
population, had walked through this forest path. Mutilated corpses were everywhere.
Here and there, you could see severed heads. I saw cut-off female breasts. A pregnant
woman was ripped open, with her unborn child placed next to her and with a severed
male head inserted in the gaping cavity in her belly. My mother tried to cover up my
eyes, so that I, a 10-year-old girl, could not see any of it".
'Quoting the eyewitnesses' who are not alive or who are impossible to contact, with written
testimony "destroyed" by either their authors or holders:
"I was told the story of this girl from Shushi by a soldier of the national army who
received treatment in the republican hospital in Baku in 1993. He told me that once,
after a successful offensive, a girl of unspeakable beauty went to meet them <... >.
"Guliyev told that a pair of innocent and harmless twin brothers had been taken
hostage by Armenians. Then Armenians sent them off to Armenia, so that they could
be brought up to become suicide attackers who would be sent to kill Azerbaijanis.
And they said as much: "We need your children whom we will later send to war with
you". Later, we managed to ransom the twin brothers".
"Only on the next day, as I went down into the basement to put there some of the
belongings of our new neighbors, I noticed behind the door several Armenian books
and notebooks that had fallen out. < …> These damped notebooks proved to be
the diaries of Armen Balasanyan, a person of my age, born in 1961. < ... > Four notebooks, each 12 pages long, had to be translated into Azerbaijani or at least
Russian. < ... > In a month's time, we could translate only a half of one notebook. <
…> After a while, I couldn't find the diaries on my desk. It transpired that my griefstricken
mother tore up and discarded the notebooks. I stood there looking into her
eyes and didn't know what to say. Was there really anything to be said?"[d].
The first timid steps towards disseminating the "horror stories" were made through forums
and blogs. Later, they leaked into the mass media taking the form of interviews, references
to named and unnamed sources, books and paintings on the 'subject'. These stories were
ultimately exported onto international platforms, the media and foreign television, while a
member of the Azerbaijani parliament Ganira Pashayeva even ventured to read out extracts
from a "book" by Zori Balayan presumably entitled "Revival of Our Spirit"[e] from a rostrum
at one of the PACE sessions.
A distinctive feature of all these "confessions" is that they are published exclusively in the
form of extracts, hearsay and retelling the words of dead relatives or protagonists, with
sources "destroyed" either by authors themselves of by thoughtless relatives of the person
who held the rarity.
Quite typical techniques are employed here:
- common Armenian names of protagonists (Armen, Tigran, Khachatur);
- detailed depiction of the "atrocities" (torture of newborns, abuse, contributions
to a clandestine subversive committee "Krunk");
- absence or very blurred depiction of small details, such as: weather, mood,
events preceding the described episode not related to the "atrocity" itself that
necessarily accompany any narration;
- invariable presence of children, young girls or old people in the episode;
- indication of unconfirmed details about the author or edition; representing
fictitious addresses, non-existent publishing houses or localities (Daud Mansur
Heyriyan, born in 1942 in Beirut, ethnic Armenian, resides in Beirut, in the
Armenian district, house 43, apartment 25, block 1, on the second floor[f]; publishing house 'Vanadzor'[g]);
- attempts to use in the text Armenian place names or brands, albeit, with mistakes:
Jemruk, Javakkh, Haestan[h].
A few excerpts from this non-existent "book" are constantly quoted in the Azerbaijani mass
media as a proof of "atrocities perpetrated by Armenians". However, neither the original
book, nor its full contents or even the full contents of the quoted pages has ever been presented anywhere. The same applies to the fictitious book by Daud Heyriyan (Heyryan)
entitled 'In the Name of the Cross'.
In 2012, the Xenophobia Prevention Initiative NGO officially announced its intention to
purchase the books 'Resurrection of Our Soul' and 'In the Name of the Cross'. In the
6-months' period following the announcement, the proposal remained unanswered.
As a rule, the plot of the "horror stories" follows the same pattern: ritualistic and vindictive
blood thirst and inhuman cruelty which spring from the upbringing and negative sentiments
intrinsic to Armenians.
"All Armenians make contributions to a certain fund" to finance action against Azerbaijan".
The name of the fund varies depending on the storyteller, the general fabric of the narration
or the goal at hand. It may be "Krunk", "Ejmiadzin" or "Dashnaks".
"Armenians entombed Azerbaijani children in welded tubes".. The place of the tube,
its form, eyewitness accounts of retrieving the bodies or welding the tube as well as the
number of children vary depending on the author, edition, etc.
- Gugark (Lori Province, Armenia);
- Spitak (Lori Province, Armenia);
- Leninakan (Shirak Province, Armenia);
- Kapan (Syunik Province, Armenia), Karabakh.
- a tube 20 meters long, with a diameter of 1.5 meters;
- a tube 6 meters long, with Azerbaijani children aged between 3 and 10 entombed
The number of entombed children:
70 children aged 5-12;
23 bodies found entombed alive in a chimney;
80 Azerbaijani children were entombed in a tube and set ablaze;
71 corpses of Azerbaijani children;
15 Azerbaijani children.
- a French rescue team;
- Medina Sharifova, the mother of one of the children;
- French dogs.
It must be noted here that the reference is made to a single tube. No Azerbaijani source or
official makes reference to more than one tube assuming that they existed in several places
at the same time.
The mythology of "children welded shut in a tube" is a subtly schemed and potent device.
It shakes the foundations of the human self-consciousness, morality, instincts and worldview.
The image of suffering children gives people such a dreadful shock that they stop
thinking reasonably on the assumption that "such things cannot be invented". Facts, logic
or proofs are no longer needed as the goal is achieved.
"Of course, the world has an unwritten law of double standards, and we regularly face
this tendency. Why the international organizations, which routinely issue statements
on violations of human rights in Azerbaijan, have not in all these years made any
statement on the Azerbaijani children entombed alive in welded tubes and ruthlessly
slain by Armenians? Personally, I have not come across any such statements", said
Vusala Huseynli, Country Manager of World Youth Bank Network.
"Armenians tortured Azerbaijanis". The sophisticated brutality and variety of tortures is
Shoes made of umbilical skin: Armenians removed the skin of captive Azerbaijanis
and even invented a special device for this process.
The right eye goes first: Armenians first put out the right eye of a captive Azerbaijani
man. < …> To start with, they thrust a red-hot piece of wire into the right eye or
plucked it out with a knife.
Torture with vipers: First Zhora dropped the captive, with his hands and feet tied,
into a pit swarming with snakes whose fangs had been pulled out. After seeing
enough of this, Zhora would let in fully-fanged snakes to attack the captive.
Tortures using horseshoes, nails, knives and axes: They killed hundreds of thousands
Azerbaijani citizens using this torture. In their workshops, Armenian blacksmiths
made many horseshoes and nails for the sons of Azerbaijan. Tortures of Azerbaijanis
by Armenians using axes were even more appalling. Great number of bodies was
found hacked into pieces like firewood. They plunged and twisted knives into the
flesh of Azerbaijanis.
Tortures using salt: < …> Many of the dead had their eye sockets filled with salt.
Many were flayed, with their raw flesh salted. < …> Large amounts of salted water
were injected into their intestines.
Tortures using a pair of tongs: < …> they tore the lips of Azerbaijanis into a bloody
mess and pulled out their golden tooth crowns. There were also many cases when
chunks of the living flesh were torn out with a pair of tongs. < …> They say that an
Armenian who had lost his eye during the war was transplanted the eye of a goodlooking
A book entitled Hale has a story named "The Gorge of Abandoned Stones" giving
the following blood-curdling account: They had no mercy not only for women, old
people and children, but did not spare disabled and mentally ill persons who had
been confined to their beds for years. Good-natured and peaceful Gheychi Turks who
held nothing in their arms except for saz, fell victims to armed to the teeth Dashnaks.
A famous musician, ashugh Najaf, suffered special tortures at the hands of Dashnaks:
they attached a boiling samovar to his chest and made him walk around the villages
until his flesh was scalded through from the hot steam.
Later, this scene was perpetuated by an Azerbaijani artist Vagif Ujatay.
A one-man exhibition named 'Behold, See and Don't Forget!' by the artist Vagif
Ujatay was held in Baku and was dedicated to the "deeds of Armenian fascists". "<
…> In 1992, the Armenian fascists in the village of Baganis Ayrum of Ghazakh region
skewered a 2-month-old infant on a ramrod and after roasting the body, offered the
mother to eat it". < …> The pinnacle of the exhibition was another work depicting
another "appalling atrocity perpetrated by Armenians": "In 1988, in the Armenian
region of Gugark, the Armenian beasts filled tubes with 80 children. As they did so,
79 of them were still alive, and the 80th, who wouldn't fit inside was torn into pieces.
This enormity was later unveiled by foreigners; the bodies were found by specially
trained French dogs. Ever since Armenians unleashed this nightmare, such works
have become the core of my artistic activity," said the artist.
"Armenians infect, eat and torture Azerbaijanis"
"Cannibal Karine" <... > They brought this woman named Karine to the prison of
Shushi where they kept the Azerbaijani prisoners of war. < …> She was a cannibal;
she liked to eat human flesh, quite often the living flesh. She yanked chunks of flesh
from bone with her teeth chewing, swallowing and feasting on human blood. They
brought her to the prison where she visually chose her "living foodstuff". < …>
"HIV-positive Anzhela Petrosyan in Baku" <…> Armenia is now waging neither cold,
nor information, but a biological war. < …> Angela Petrosyan contracted AIDS <...
>. She started deliberately infecting Azerbaijani residents of Baku with AIDS. She
received her instructions and acted strictly according to the plan...
"Armenians are behind female sterility across CIS countries" The so-called
"Armenian vaccine", Gardasil and Cervarix, developed by an Armenian physician in
the United States, has been freely imported and distributed at no charge since 2009
in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and in other CIS countries.
"Armenians organize terrorist acts". Fortunately, sometimes the Azerbaijanis themselves
reveal disinformation and refute it.
Armenian trail in the terror act at the State Oil Academy of Baku on April 30, 2009.
The indictment handed down by A. Yusifov said that the person who masterminded
the mass shooting in the Oil Academy was Martin Grigoryevich Gumashyan, born
in 1951, who lives with his spouse and sons in the village of Shulaver of Marneuli
District of Georgia. M. Gumashyan and his sons are engaged in baking bread in the
bakery built in the courtyard of their own house. The document also notes that in
January-March 2009, Gumashyan entered into a criminal conspiracy with a resident
of Dashtepe village of Marneuli District Farda Asad oglu Gadirov, his relative from
the village of Shulaver Javidan Farman oglu Amirov and residents of Dashtepe
village Najaf Novruz oglu Suleymanov, Nadir Shirkhan oglu Aliyev and other citizens,
whose identity has not been established yet by the investigation, agreed to commit a
terrorist act in the city of Baku against Azerbaijanis out of ethnic hatred. He promised
to allot a sum of 50 thousand USD for the organization and execution of this crime
and gave Farda Gadirov the initial sum of 5 thousand USD, with the outstanding sum
to be paid after the terrorist act would be committed.
The correspondent of the Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Musavat traveled to the village
of Shulaver and without any help from Interpol found the Armenian Gumashyan
in the courtyard of his own house and recorded an interview with him that upset
the course of the trial on the shooting of students at the State Oil Academy of
It transpired that Martun Gumashyan was not even acquainted with Farda Gadirov
who was the perpetrator of the bloodbath at the Oil Academy. Moreover, as soon as
Gumashyan found out that the authorities of Azerbaijan declared him a "terrorist",
he turned to the Georgian General Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Internal
Affairs, where he was told that the Azerbaijani side had taken no action to seek his
The newspaper Zerkalo turned to the law enforcement authorities of Azerbaijan
for clarification of the situation at hand. "We have turned to the Ministry of
Internal Affairs of Georgia. The Ministry's officer on duty, Dmitri Botsulava stated
to our correspondent that the Ministry received no motions concerning Martun
Gumashyan. This means that the statements made by Gumashyan were truthful",
"We have also turned to the Azerbaijani Office of Interpol as it was the organization
which, according to the statement of the General Prosecutor's Office, handled the
search for Martun Gumashyan. We decided to inquire about the progress of a search
for a person who had never thought of going into hiding and continued to live in his
own house. The officer on duty, Hasanov suggested that we leave our telephone
number, but the senior officials of Interpol never called back. Then, we called again.
The organization's officer suggested that we turned with our questions to the press
service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. We did as suggested. The officer of the
Ministry's press service, Ehsan Zahidov, stated to Zerkalo that he had no information
concerning the search for Martun Gumashyan", continues the newspaper.
"We have also turned to the General Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan. The head
of its press-service stated that necessary actions would be taken to arrest Martun
Gumashyan in the future! He also noted that the law-enforcement authorities of
Azerbaijan would establish the identities of all involved in the tragedy and would call
them to account".
Interestingly, after a while, the columnist of the newspaper Yeni Musavat, Tofig Yagublu,
who had prepared the sensational report was arrested on trumped-up charges.
Shocking is one of the centerpieces in demonizing an image. This method has been widely
employed in shaping the image of an Armenian in documentary materials, social and
political discourse, art and propaganda of today's Azerbaijan.
A generation of children has grown up in Azerbaijan who have never seen Armenians, but
form their judgment on hearsay. Targeting this group is the easiest task as there is no need
to shatter the existing stereotypes based on knowledge, personal familiarity or own views.
They not only fail to challenge such information, but re-circulate it reinforced with claims of
personal involvement or somebody they know well.
A dialog between two young Azerbaijanis on a forum:
- Although our parents lived and were friends with them, they conspired against
us behind our backs just the same. < …> Even if they do music, they can teach their
- And not only ideology. You might have seen it on the TV; one Armenian woman,
who was a midwife in a maternity hospital, squeezed the testicles of new-born boys
long before the Armenian-Azerbaijani events.
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[a] "Excerpts from Daud Heyriyan's book." See Attachment
[b] "History of Armenian or Armen Balasanyan's diary" See Attachment
[c] It goes without saying that Armenians have no such custom.
[d] "History of Armenian or diary Armen Balasanyan" See Attachment
[e] Other purported versions of the book title are: "Resurrection of Our Soul", "Resurrection of Our Spirit" and so forth.
[f] Non-existent address in Beirut.
[g] Non-existent publishing house.
[h] Jermuk, Javakhk, Hayastan