Monday, October 25, 2010

Hatred and Xenophobia is Alive and Well

Poster for the event

A Facebook event page on a film festival in Yerevan has sparked hateful and nationalist comments since it was created a few days ago. Why? Simply because the festival will showcase films by Azerbaijani filmmakers.

Though the event page on Facebook seemed to have been created by Armenian writer and LGBT activist Lusine Vayachyan, the actual event is organized by the Yerevan-based Caucasus Center for Peace-Making Initiatives NGO, with the support of the US Embassy in Armenia. As of this writing, the event FB page shows that it was created by Georgi Vanyan, the president of CCPI.

In fact, Vanyan has since added a note to the event, which also appears on Vayachyan’s wall as well as his own wall, asking individuals who have concerns or complaints regarding the festival to direct them to him: “Each individual concerned about the festival, please leave writer Lusine Vayachyan alone. Lusine simply spread the news about the festival.”

“The festival is organized by Caucasus Center for Peace-Making Initiatives NGO, of which I am the president, and naturally, the person responsible for the festival. Please,,” he adds, leaving the email address where to send queries and comments.

Though of course that hasn’t stopped FB users from only adding hateful, discriminatory, nationalist and xenophobic comments on the page — though now not directed at Lusine, but focusing on the nature of the event itself.

As of this writing, one FB user by the name of Sasun Sasunian has added a photograph showing the Armenian flag being burned, as well as a couple of illustrations with the words “I love Azerbaijan” and “F*** you Armenia.” In one image, a child wearing the Azerbaijani flag is shown peeing on the Armenian flag, apparently equating the organizing of a festival to expressing anti-Armenian sentiments.

Of course, he’s not the only one. There’s HoVo Aghajanyan (and really, how do we know these are their real names?) who has posted the link of another FB event on this event page: this time for a protest to take place on the same time and place as the festival of Azerbaijani films. The counter-event seems to have been created by Hrachya Barkhudaryan and already has 178 people attending.

The comments are almost exclusively in Armenian, and of course there are some people thankfully who have other views. These comments mainly seem to try to reach out to people through "Christian values" and humanity, asking users to stop spreading hate. Some comments state that organizing a festival screening of Azerbaijani films or comments which support such an event shouldn't be equated with being "anti-Armenian" or being a "traitor."

Responses to such comments have included accusations of being Azerbaijani, being traitors to the Armenian people and so on, with each additional comment receiving support by another commenter, inciting more hatred and almost camaraderie by fellow racists.

I don’t know what else to say at this point except “disgusting.” Absolutely, wholly, almost-to-the-point-of-ridiculous-if-these-views-weren’t-so-very-deeply-and-unfortunately-sincerely-held-by-these-young-Armenian-nationalist-men-and-women disgusting.

For those who are interested in reading and perhaps responding to the comments (in Armenian), the Facebook event page can be found here:

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