Chapter 15. Mythologization of «genocides»
The psychological warfare frequently includes the use of myths.
The myth is the information which accounts for the origins and further development of
various phenomena based on real or fictitious events or facts, with subsequent exaggeration
of distortion of the cause and effect relations.
The human perception of the surrounding reality through myths is based on beliefs and
opinions held by representatives of a specific culture, ethnic or social group rather than
People usually resort to social myths, which are warped notions of the reality deliberately
inculcated in the public mind to shape the required social responses. The most singular
element about social myths is that the bulk of the society views them as a natural state of
affairs rather than pieces of fiction. As a rule, under the impact of social myths, the history
of origin and development of states and ethnic groups becomes distorted to such extent
that its impartial analysis is possible only through critical juxtaposition of various sources.
Specialists consider that myths have the capacity to:
- affect simultaneously the intellectual and emotional aspects of the human
consciousness. This makes people believe in the reality of the mythical content;
- turn a hyperbolic depiction of an individual case into an ideal model of the
desired line of conduct. It is thanks to this peculiarity that the content of myths
can affect the human conduct;
- rely on a specific tradition existing in the society.
Myths are an efficient tool for manipulating the consciousness. A myth taken alone has
little meaning. However, when inculcated and deeply ingrained in the minds of the people,
a myth can substitute (provided certain conditions are met) the reality for a long time. As
a result, the recipient perceives the reality in line with how the myth is interpreted and
therefore acts based on such perception. The convenience of the myth resides in its capacity
to simplify the reality relieving the recipient of any need for intense (and frequently painful)
thinking to comprehend the surrounding world.
In the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide
means "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- (a) Killing members of the group;
- (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".
March 26, 1998 marked the official starting point for mythologization of the "Azerbaijani
genocide" as the Azerbaijani ex-president Heydar Aliyev officially instituted the 'day of
genocide of the Azerbaijanis'.
On March 27, 2003, Aliyev, Sr. stated in his speech:
The massive settlement of Armenians on our historical lands after the division of
Azerbaijan between Russia and Iran, the massacre of Azerbaijanis perpetrated by
Armenian Dashnaks in 1905 and 1918, handing over Zangezur to Armenians in the
1920s, the creation of an Armenian autonomy on the territory of Karabakh, the
deportation of our compatriots from Armenia in 1948—1953... new territorial claims
of Armenia to Azerbaijan in the late 1980s - all led to a full-scale war, occupation of
20 percent of Azerbaijani lands by the Armenian armed groups and made about 1
million of our compatriots refugees and internally displaced persons.
The "genocide of 1905 in Baku", the "genocide of 1918 in Baku and Guba", the "genocide
of 1988-1990" and the "genocide of Khojaly" are the four major "genocides" intensely
trumpeted by the Azerbaijani propaganda. There are also other secondary and minor
"genocides": purported to have been perpetrated in Zangezur, Karabakh, Shemakh,
Kyurdamir, Salyan, Lankoran, Kafan, Gugark, Sisian, Agdaban, Baghanis-Ayrum, Masis, etc.
The geography of the Azerbaijani genocides is quite extensive, with matching time
frames. Only one thing remains without change: perpetrators and organizers. This role is
traditionally reserved for Armenians. Let us examine the psychological prerequisite for the
mythologization of "Azerbaijani genocides".
The scholar Yuri Lotman in his article on semiotics and typology of the culture notes that
each culture creates a mythologized image as its ideal self-portrait. In his turn, W. Wundt
notes that the language, myths and customs represent common spiritual phenomena so
closely fused together that one is unthinkable without the other. <…> The customs express
through deeds the same views on life that rest on myths and become public through
language. These deeds in their turn further enhance and elaborate the perceptions that
they stem from.
It must be pointed out that the mythologization of genocides is a cultural product of today's
Azerbaijani society and is a manifestation of latent aggression.
"Aggression is the consequence of such conduct that has for objective as its targeted
response the infliction of a damage to the person it is aimed against. The aggression may
not always be exhibited openly; it can manifest itself through fantasizing, dreaming or even
through a thoroughly deliberated retaliation plan; it can be directed against the purported
cause of frustration, be redirected against a completely innocent target or even own self".
Besides, another psychological phenomenon can be at play here termed 'mirroring'
and amounting to reproduction with varying degrees of adequacy the traits, structural
characteristics and relations of other objects. This comes to say that in this case, the
historical fact of the Armenian Genocide called for an "Azerbaijani genocide of their own"
to match Armenians.
The head of the Assistance to Development of Public Relations NGO, Shelale Hasanova
in her interview to the Day.az information agency pointed out the mainstays of the
Azerbaijani propaganda: "We suffered through four genocides in a single century
and we remained unbroken; we survived and we gained independence and we now
become integrated into the world community. This is what we must speak and write
about not only on the Genocide Memorial Day but during the history classes in schools,
at international conferences and during various political actions. I shall remind
you these four genocides: the genocide of Azerbaijanis in 1905-1907 in Western
Azerbaijana and in Baku, the genocide of 1918-1920 perpetrated by Dashnaks in
Armenia and Azerbaijan, the genocide of 1988 when militant nationalists of the
Soviet Armenia banished Azerbaijanis from the lands of Oghuz Turks by torturing
and burning them alive. And finally, the forth genocide was perpetrated by Armenian
armed bands in Khojaly".
This anti-Armenian propaganda campaign enlists the assistance of all political and civil
institutes. For instance, Elmira Suleymanova, the Azerbaijani Ombudsman, stated that "as
a result of a deliberate genocidal policy, ethnic cleansings and deportations perpetrated
by Armenians and their supporters against Azerbaijanis over the past two centuries, our
people had to endure dreadful ordeals... A total of some 700 thousands of our compatriots
There is no need to dwell in detail on every single attempt at falsification of historic events of
the region by the Azerbaijani propaganda. It will suffice to focus on the two most circulated
examples, that of Guba and Khojaly.
"The genocide of Guba"
In 2007, during drilling works for the renovation of a stadium in Guba, a mass grave of
unknown origin was found on the site of a trash dump. Only 35 human skeletons could be
lifted to the surface in their entirety. To this day, no result of any archaeological research or expert appraisal on the origin of these remains has been published. Also, no concomitant
evidence has been made available.
Meanwhile, on December 30, 2009, the president Ilham Aliyev issued a decree on creation
of a "genocide memorial complex" in Guba. Depending on the interests currently at stake,
the remains are attributed to Jews or Lezgins or simply Muslims. However, Armenians are
invariably cast in the role of the perpetrators.
The text of the decree reads as follows:
At the outset of the past century, as a result of a policy of mass ethnic cleansings
and aggression perpetrated by armed bands of Armenian Dashnaks on Azerbaijani
lands - in Baku, Guba, Karabakh, Shemakh, Kyurdamir, Salyan, Lankaran and other
regions, tens of thousands of innocent Azerbaijanis were killed; one of the most
tragic genocidal acts of the 20th century was committed against our people. In April-
May 1918, in the Guba uyezd only, 122 villages were completely destroyed. The mass
grave in the city of Guba revealed that as a result of the genocide, along Azerbaijanis
slain with boundless ferocity and extreme cruelty, thousands of Lezgins, Jews, Tats
and representatives of other national minorities were exposed to violence.
ЧWhat did really happen in Guba? Immediately upon the discovery of the grave in Guba,
the speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament Oktay commissioned the director of the History
Institute, member of the parliament, Yagub Mahmudov to retain foreign anthropologists
and compile an official document "on the mass killing of Azerbaijanis by Armenians at the
outset of the past century". However, foreign experts never showed up in Guba, and the
remains discovered there were not given any independent appraisal at least to determine
their temporal dimension.
The late president of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Mahmud Kerimov,
did not exclude that the remains of Guba might both stem from a mass killing and a mass
epidemic. Meanwhile, Gahraman Agayev, the head of the expedition mounted by the
Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan,
stated in relation to the discovery of about 200 skulls: "The researchers concluded that
the grave is a result of a genocide perpetrated by Armenians in Guba. A phantom letter
by Stepan Shahumyan addressed to Hamazasp which has never been published by the
Azerbaijani side is quoted by Agayev as a "compelling" piece of evidence.
Agayev's claim that the time of the death was accurately established ("The massacre
occurred between May 3 and 10") is equally preposterous. The same can be said about his
assertion that "it has been established based on anthropological investigation of skulls that
apart from Azerbaijanis, Jews and Lezgins suffered physical extermination in 1918". Agayev
also passed over in silence the revolutionary method that must have been contrived by the
Azerbaijani scientists for unraveling the precise ethnicity of the remains.
Yet, his colleague, Maisa Rahimova, the director of the Institute of Archeology and
Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, seems to be in the same boat
as she claims that "anthropological research confirmed that these people were Muslims". Notice must be taken of the fact that a participant of the same expedition, Asker Aliyev,
Candidate of Historical Sciences, clearly states: "Only 35 skeletons could be identified from
among a multitude of skulls and children's bones. No hair, vestiges of clothes or objects
were found in the wells". This means that any assertion about the religious affiliation of
the persons, whose remains were found, is not only unprofessional but downright fatuous.
In January 2012, professor Levon Yepiskoposyan, Doctor of Biology, addressed a letter to
the president of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, academician Mahmud
Kerimov offering to carry out a qualified international expert appraisal of the human remains
found in Guba in order to discover scientifically the truth about the mass graves of Guba. In
February 2010, the professor came up with another proposal to allow Armenian specialists
to take part in a joint anthropological and genetic expert examination of the remains found
in Guba; however, his letter remained unanswered.
Meanwhile, Hayk Demoyan, the director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute,
notes that there are archive materials proving that the Armenian population of Guba was
exposed to violence from the local Tatar bands in 1918, and the number of Armenian victims
corresponds to the number of skeletons found at the burial site.
Here is one such testimony. In the late April 1918, Gelovani, the commissar of the city and
the region of Guba, sent a telegram to Korganov, the chairman of the Military Revolutionary
Committee, containing the following: "Today, on April 24, I released 115 Armenians who
were jailed in the prison of Guba. They all were divested of their property. I took measures
to have their property restituted. They are asking for financial assistance from the Armenian
National Counsel. Please, send it to my address as soon as possible. The pecuniary situation
is critical... apart from the city of Guba, Armenians are held captive also in other places. I
am taking measures towards their liberation".
It is of note that the same testimony is confirmed in the series published on the Day.az
website under the heading Historical Prism: 1918: how the mass killing in Guba was carried
out". The article says that a member of the Ganja District Court, Andrey Novatski, who came
to Guba to investigate the events of April-May 1918, addressed an inquiry to the head of
the municipality Ali Abbas Alibekov to clarify the situation in Guba in the period concerned.
In his response dated December 12, Alibekov wrote that Guba had a population of about 20
thousand, of which some 500 were Armenians whose residences were scattered in different
parts of the town.
"According to the evidence collected by A. Novatski commission, in April 1918, as the power
in Baku was in the hands of Bolsheviks, David Gelovani, representative of the Bolshevik
party, arrived in Guba with an international detachment of 187 armed soldiers and set
about forming a Bolshevik administration in the town. However, the first attempt was not
successful. Nine days after, armed Lezgins from the neighboring settlements managed to
chase away the first team of Bolsheviks from the town after three days of fierce fighting.
Both sides sustained casualties: 200 Lezgins and another 70 non-combatants were killed,"
says the publication.
It is probable that the 200 people killed in the clashes between the population of Guba
and the international detachments of Bolsheviks were buried in the accidentally discovered
ditch pits. These can be just as well Armenians who were killed in the clashes. However,
nothing can be unequivocally asserted without an international scientific expert appraisal.
Thus, the Azerbaijani side, without any scientific expert appraisal, designates the ethnicity
and the religious affiliation of the persons whose remains were found as well as pinpoints
precise dates of the killings. Why to this day, the local population was not aware of a mass
grave of their relatives whose burial site was on a trash dump? What was the method,
unknown to the modern science, employed by the Azerbaijani specialists to determine that
the discovered skulls belonged to Azerbaijanis, Lezgins, Mountain Jews or Tats? Was there
any concomitant evidence discovered that could provide an exhaustive answer to questions
of chronology and ethnicity of the persons whose remains were found? And finally, what is the historical document that reliably reports a burial site of "Azerbaijanis
brutally murdered by Armenians" in Guba? All these questions from the Armenian side
"The genocide of Khojaly"
According to the Azerbaijani version, it is a "genocide perpetrated by Armenian Armed
Forces with participation of the 366th Motor Rifle Regiment on the night of February 25-
26, 1992 against ethnic Azerbaijanis during the seizure of the town of Khojaly". However,
the reality is that on February 26th 1992, during the hostilities at the approaches to the
Azerbaijani-controlled city of Aghdam, under obscure circumstances, between 200 and
300 persons were killed, according to the international advocacy organization Human Right
Watch (600 persons, according to the version of the Azerbaijani propaganda), who were
deliberately held in the thick of the fighting by the Azerbaijani authorities. Notwitshtanding
insistent warnings from the Armenian side, the population of Khojaly, being one of the five
weapon emplacements bombarding the blockaded Stepanakert, was forcibly held there
and willfully not evacuated for months by the Azerbaijani authorities to be subsequently
used as a human shield.
The residents of Khojaly who left the settlement through the humanitarian corridor opened
by the Self-Defense Forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic enjoyed unhindered passage
of over 10 kilometers and reached the Azerbaijani-controlled city of Agdam. Later, in the immediate vicinity of the Azerbaijani lines, bodies of the dead residents of the settlement
were found. The exact number of the killed remains unknown as the official Baku keeps
publishing self-contradictory figures. The Parliamentary Commission of Azerbaijan assigned
to investigate the tragic demise of the civilians near Aghdam was disbanded on Heydar
Aliyev's orders, and all evidence was classified.
More details about the Aghdam events can be found on www.Xосаli.net or by watching the
documentary Between Hunger and Fire: Power at the expense of lives.
However, the Azerbaijani side would not stop there. After counting some 20 Azerbaijani
genocides at the hands of Armenians in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic, the Azerbaijani propaganda decided to expand the geography of their "genocides".
In autumn 2012, during the construction of a school in the Iranian city of Urmia an unidentified
burial site was discovered. "The mass grave discovered during the excavations in the
city of Urmia in Iranian province of Western Azerbaijanb may not be destroyed. It must
be preserved and protected as a proof of genocide against Azerbaijanis," stated Professor
Govhar Bakhshaliyeva, Member of the Parliament and director of the Institute of Oriental
Studies after Z. Bunyadov of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. According to
her, "Iran's wish to wipe out the grave is an indication of a policy and unjust position in
respect of the Azerbaijani people from some chauvinists and paniranists to a single end of
Bakhshaliyeva asserted that "on the territory of today's province of Western Azerbaijan,
presently a part of Iran, Armenian and Assyrian armed bands perpetrated a monstrous
genocide against Azerbaijanis in 1918". Bakhshaliyeva even announced that an international
conference on "the Azerbaijani genocide in Iran" would be held in the following year in
Her colleague, Musa Guliyev, the deputy chairman of the Social Policy Committee of the
Azerbaijani parliament, went even further and declared that "it is possible that together
with Azerbaijanis, Persians, Kurds and representatives of other nations perished because
actually they were killed because of their devotion to Islam".
The position of the official Baku on the subject was voiced by Ali Ahmedov, the executive
secretary of the ruling party Yeni Azerbaijan: "I condemn the destruction of the burial site
in Iran which testified to genocide against Azerbaijanis," stated Ahmedov.
The reaction from the Iranian side came quick and harsh. "By distorting the history and
exploiting ethnic problems, Azerbaijan seeks its own benefit," stated the Organization for
Cultural Heritage of the Iranian province of Western Atrpatakan (Western Azerbaijan). The
Organization also noted that groundless claims made by Musa Guliyev, the deputy chairman
a. Here: Iranian province of the social policy committee of the Azerbaijani parliament were false as research had
revealed that the burial site discovered during the renovation works of the historical school
in Urmia relates to the events of the World War I when the Ottoman Empire, Russia and
England launched an assault to seize north-western regions of Iran leading to a massacre of
about 9 million Iranians".
This story was rounded off by Mohsen Pak Ayeen, the Iranian ambassador in Azerbaijan,
who stated in his interview to SalamNews agency that a law was passed in Iran prescribing
that construction works could be authorized at the burial sites dating over 100 years. He
confirmed the information that human remains had been found during the construction of
a school in Urmia. "Some believe that these are remains of Muslims killed by Armenians.
However, there is no evidence to this effect," stated the Iranian ambassador.
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[a] Here: territory of the Republic of Armenia.
[b] Here: Iranian province.