A public outcry led by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) has forced the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) to republish an article it originally removed from its website, which featured an interview with Serj Tankian on the national broadcaster’s Triple J Radio Station. However the new version of the article has been heavily edited to appease Azerbaijani and Turkish complaints.
In the original version, Tankian, who is the frontman of Grammy Award-winning System of a Down, had been quoted discussing the importance of the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh to prevent a second Armenian Genocide, explaining this as the motivation for the band getting back together to produce new music after a 15-year recording hiatus.
Tankian, a New Zealand resident, was quoted on the history of the Armenian Genocide from the perspective of a grandchild of a survivor of the 1915 attempt by the Ottoman Empire to eradicate the Armenian race. He explained that what was going on in Artsakh by neo-Ottoman Azerbaijan was the motivation for the songs “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”.
The interview was broadcast on Triple J’s The Racket program before Christmas, before an article featuring some of his key quotes and the Artsakh story was published on the ABC website at this link, which was subsequently taken down for reasons yet to be explained.
The original article that was removed from ABC’s website was titled “Inside System Of A Down’s Reunion and the Armenian Genocide That Spurred It”, and the sanitised version it was forced to publish after the ANC-AU, Tankian and many Australians took to social media to correct the apparent censorship is titled “Inside System Of A Down’s reunion and the conflict that spurred it” – the replacing of “Armenian Genocide” with “conflict” is typical of the kind of changes that were made to the body of the article.
The republished version contains an Editor’s Note, which reads:
“EDITOR’S NOTE, January 14 2021: This story has been amended to include more context on the conflict in Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabach. The headline has been changed accordingly. This article has also been amended to remove some contested claims.”
“The only parties that would contest claims about the correct characterisation of the Armenian Genocide and the rights to self-determination of the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh are Turkey and Azerbaijan, and whilst we appreciate ABC’s correction of its previous censorship, we find it unacceptable that our national broadcaster is being edited by the dictatorships in Ankara and Baku,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian.
“If Holocaust deniers contested the history of the Jewish Genocide at the hands of Nazi Germany, we would rightly find it appalling that our national broadcaster will edit such claims because there were contests made by bad actors,” he added.
“This is completely unacceptable censorship and pandering to the Turkish State’s offensive policy of genocide denial which goes to extraordinary extents, including using the sacred graves of our ANZAC Diggers buried in Gallipoli as ‘hostages’ to appease such genocide denial.”
“We do not intend to rest until the full, uncensored article, is republished,” Kayserian noted.
Among Tankian’s quotes in from the radio interview was a call to action to all Australians to support a petition published by the Armenian National Committee of Australia on the Australian Parliament’s website, calling for their recognition of the rights to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh.
“In Australia right now, there’s a petition going on in parliament… to recognize Artsakh… so that in the future something like this [the war] will be less likely to occur. Go to www.anc.org.au and find the link to the petition to help,” Tankian said.
The petition closed with over 3,000 signatures.
Tankian also told Triple J: “In the 1920s, Joseph Stalin decided to give these lands [Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh] to Azerbaijan … these lands [Artsakh] were never really Azeri lands … Azerbaijan attacked with impunity … it was a David and Goliath situation … Not only did they [Azerbaijan] attack with missiles, bombs and modern technology, but they also attacked with propaganda… disinformation…”
He added: “It’s a difficult thing for Armenians around the world to watch yet another injustice after a hundred years happen to our people by some of the same people that are still denying that the Genocide occurred… Turkey still denies the role of their ancestors…”
“The media was just doing this false parity because the dictatorship of Azerbaijan and the dictatorship of Erdogan’s Turkey was basically saying ‘oh no, we’re not the ones who started the war, Armenia did’, even though they’re the ones who did (so) with impunity….”
“The guys from System of a Down … we were all upset about it. We all jumped on board. We made (the new songs dedicated to Artsakh awareness) happen in a miraculous amount of time…” Tankian added.
The new article can be read by clicking here.
The complete article, removed from the ABC website is pasted below, and the radio interview can be listened to in full by clicking here.