Image for post
Image for post
Attacks and bombings on peaceful, civilian territories within Artsakh; upper region of Askeran.

The New York Times has a lot to Answer for

“When Armenia talked tough, Azerbaijan took action”

Carlotta Gall is a British journalist who is also Istanbul’s bureau chief for The New York Times. Azerbaijan has been in the middle of a $3 billion money-laundering scandal that has been directly linked to four shell companies registered in Britain.

Gall calling herself a journalist is the equivalent of Donald Trump claiming that the Central Park Five should have been executed. They’re pinnacles of fraudulence designed to stir emotion and sell it off as war-fevered nationalism.

I was paralyzed by a comparison.

Imagine if, every day, you woke up to another 9/11.

That is exactly what’s happening to Armenia right now. Their per-capita casualties, when set side-by-side with America, are the equivalent of a 9/11 happening every day. The bombings began on September 27 — it’s almost a month straight of a new list of dead children, soldiers, youth. And now, the new targets have been hospitals, buildings, residences, and civilians.

There have been very few reporters allowed in Azerbaijan to document what’s been going on. The few they have, like Carlotta Gall, have claimed that:

“When Armenia talked tough, Azerbaijan took action”

I shouldn’t even provide the word ‘claimed’. That is the title for her piece that’s published in the New York Times.

There have been civilian casualties on both sides. There have been asymmetric losses on both sides. But Gall’s journalism is to paint a disgusting illustration that Armenia is somehow an aggressor in the region. Armenia is a tiny region in the Caucuses with 3 million people, a land-locked economy, and a small military, if you want to call it that. It has no ambitions to fight wars, start them, or pre-emptively strike anybody.

The people of Artsakh are an ethnic, indigenous people who are seeking to simply survive. There is nobody in this region who is seeking the destruction of its neighbors. Armenians around the world, otherwise known as the diaspora, exceed the population at home by about 6 million people. There are easily over 200,000 Armenians living in Los Angeles alone. They are survivors of a genocide that has gone unnoticed and unrecognized for over 100 years even though every scholarly historian or journalist has agreed on the systematic and organized nature of the killings of almost 1.5 million Armenians in the early 1900s.

I’m confused about what Carlotta Gall means by tough-talking. The Prime Minister before Nikol Pashinyan in Armenia was a thug who was stealing from the Armenian people. Serzh Sargsyan, who served before Pashinyan, is the equivalent of Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev today. They were dictators, brainwashing two populations while stealing from them simultaneously.

  • It took Facebook more than a year and a whistleblower for Zuckerberg to remove a troll farm connected to Azerbaijan’s ruling party, which was Aliyev’s.
  • Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, is an ethnically Armenian land. The claim that the propaganda-fueled Azerbaijani government lends its people is that Armenians are “invaders” of that land. This argument is the equivalent of claiming Native Americans “invaded” America. The structures, buildings, and cathedrals that span the land in Artsakh date back thousands of years. In fact, there are monasteries and cathedrals and ruins in Eastern Turkey that date back thousands of years too. Things such as the Ani Ruins, Fortress of Van, the Holy Cross Cathedral on Akhtamar Island, the Kars Castle, the Cathedral in Kars. But the question here is not about who the land rightfully belongs to. If we wanted to actually speak about that, wouldn’t we talk about recognizing the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides, too? Wouldn’t we talk about the Saturday Mothers in Turkey? Wouldn’t we talk about Erdogan in Turkey murdering Kurds for no reason other than thin-veiled hypernationalism? Wouldn’t we talk about all the Kurdish mayors that Erdogan has detained for no reason other than for control? Why does Gall only paint the sorrow picture for Azerbaijan, and not for any of its neighbors? Specifically, as Istanbul's bureau chief, why isn’t anything covered about Erdogan’s fascination with fascism, Hitler, the Third Reich, or the Ottoman Empire? Alan Mikhail’s piece on The Economist is something everybody should be reading today.
  • Ethnic Armenians that number about 150,000 in Artsakh want to live in Artsakh in peace. That’s Armenia talking tough? A Prime Minister who actually cares about his people and who isn’t corrupt is seen as a “populist” who has aggravated the situation in the region, according to Gall. This is the equivalent of calling Native Americans in America occupiers of the land we live on now. This isn’t journalism. That’s also not a populist.
  • The mayor of Baku in 2005 stating that “Our goal is the complete elimination of Armenians. You, Nazis, already eliminated the Jews in the 1930s and 40s, right? You should be able to understand us.” Is this Armenia also talking tough?
  • “Within the next 25 years, there will be no state of Armenia in the South Caucasus. These people… have no right to live in this region.” Safar Abiyev, Defense Minister, 2004.
  • “If there were more Armenians there I would like to have killed all of them. It is a pity this was the first occasion and I hadn’t managed to get better prepared for this action… My calling is to kill all the Armenians.” Ramil Safarov, Army Major, January 2006. He murdered an Armenian Lieutenant in his sleep while at a NATO peace program in Hungary. He was extradited, pardoned, and promoted by Azerbaijan’s current President, Ilham Aliyev in 2012.

I’m confused by the action, so maybe Carlotta Gall can clarify on some of the justifications for the tough-talking.

The bombing of hospitals, the capital of Artsakh, maternity wards, etc.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Photos of Nagorno-Karabakh. Source: Associated Press.

The bombing of cathedrals in Artsakh, notably the one in Shushi.

Image for post
Image for post
Air raids bomb a church in Shushi, October 8th, 2020.

Use of cluster munitions, this is an actual video of Stepanakert being bombed.

Everybody here is a civilian. The bombing went on for about a minute straight.

Image for post
Image for post
Shelling of Stepanakert, October 4th, 2020.

It’s a month into this madness, and every day there is a new part of Artsakh being obliterated. Yet, the entire focus of Gall’s lens is to zoom in on the troubles of a dictatorship. Azerbaijan’s civilian death count is a direct result of Aliyev’s unwillingness to accept history or the word ‘genocide’ as it applies to Armenians.

Azerbaijan knows that it can get away with propaganda. From 2012 to 2014, the Azerbaijani government was arresting activists and journalists in wholesale. A joint investigation through multiple European newspapers revealed that Azerbaijan has been a laundromat for U.K. shell companies in the amount of over $3 billion. Both the OCCRP and Transparency International, as well as many international bodies, know this. So why is it not surprising that one of the only journalists allowed into Azerbaijan is shelved off from Britain and simultaneously runs the New York Times in Turkey? If there is a conscience circulating The New York Times, then they’ll start questioning the journalistic integrity of anything Carlotta Gall is attempting to stir in the Caucuses as of current. Armenians across the world are threatened that their people are about to disappear off the face of the planet, and Gall is still documenting the part of the picture that Azerbaijan is paying her to sell.

Armenia does not have money to offer the world. It does not have the GDP or either Azerbaijan or Turkey. Armenia’s military outlays are approximately 20% of Azerbaijan’s. This isn’t a question of war. It’s a question of how many facts “journalists” such as Carlotta Gall are willing to hide in the process of fetching a blatantly biased story to feed Azerbaijan’s propaganda machine to fuel a war effort that is backed on nothing except for the words of monsters like Aliyev and Erdogan.

You’re not threading anything through a needle with the accounts of “war”. This isn’t war, it’s an attempt for Armenians to survive what they have continually survived in this region for over a hundred years.

Why is the account of these stories seen as journalism, or as an extension of some twisted justification for war? I am sympathetic toward any casualties for any side, but to state that Azerbaijan is an absolute victim is a falsehood that isn’t condemned to the extent of the truth. Some Azerbaijani journalists, like Arzu Geybulla, actually have the bravery to report the truth and outline the source of the nationalistic current.

Journalists have a responsibility to understand the region they are dealing in. Carlotta Gall doesn’t have an ounce of understanding in that region, decades after she first began reporting in it. It does not seem like this is an accident. The efforts on Armenia’s sides aren’t to punish Azerbaijan for some external, ulterior motive. These attempts to confuse and misdirect give the world a version of the conflict that’s conflated with righteousness on both sides. It is not. Armenia is defending itself against an aggressor, and Azerbaijan does not want Artsakh — it wants Armenia. To ignore the historical background of an entire ethnic people and their consistent exploitation in the name of hyper-nationalism isn’t bad reporting — it’s outright fake news.

If the second genocide of my people goes underway, your name will be cemented as the impetus for the misplaced nationalism that began it.

Imagine a world where Hitler’s legacy was anything other than the monster he was. Then a hundred years later, think about how crazy it would be if someone attempted to recreate the Third Reich. That is the painful truth of what is happening to Armenia, right now.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu