Since I began expressing my views on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a series of Armenian individuals have sent me a series of anti-Semitic messages and other profundities. I have been called a “Muslim loving cunt,” “a Zionist terrorist,” a “whore,” and a “bitch.” Another person told me to “rot in hell together with your government,” another said, “fuck you and your family” and another one called me an “ugly monster.”
In the wake of these and other attacks that I endured since I began to express my opinion on this conflict, I want to stress that it is totally not acceptable to treat a journalist in this manner and that all attacks upon journalists must come to an end. Every author, writer and journalist should have the right to freely express their ideas in an atmosphere free of fear, slander, insults, and intimidation. As George Orwell once stated, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Thus, having the ability to express different opinions from the mainstream in the West is pivotal for anyone who cares about preserving the media as a marketplace of ideas, where different people who possess various views can express themselves freely. As the prominent human rights lawyer Irina Tsukerman noted on Twitter, “Harassment of journalists trying to do their job in good faith is absolutely unacceptable and has little to do with legitimate disagreements or criticism of their work product. It reveals both weakness and evil intent on the part of those engaging in such practices.”
Yet sadly, I am not the only person who has been exposed to such abuse due to the way they chose to cover the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Hikmet Hajiyev, an assistant to Azerbaijan’s President, stressed: “Now a journalist from the Italian La Republica Peitro Del Re is being attacked. It was also the case with @TF1 and @newyorktimes journalists who were physically threatened by the Armenian lobby. We strongly condemn such attacks on freedom of expression.”
As Reporters without Borders noted, “Liseron Boudoul, a staff reporter for the French TV channel TF1, began receiving hate messages on Facebook and Twitter, including such insults as “genocidal whore,” after TFI broadcast her report on its 8 p.m. news program on 22 October. She was also subjected to pressure via a WhatsApp text from someone who had managed to get her personal phone number. TF1 was itself also targeted by systematic harassment on social media and in emails and phone calls. Two reporters for a leading French daily were also subjected to online threats from members of the Armenian community in France in early October in connection with their articles about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Similarly, a New York Times crew aside from being physically threatened also endured the indignity of an official complaint for their balanced coverage of the conflict. On top of that, Times of Israel blogger Lea Suissa had her article unpublished for the newspaper considered her article on the plight of civilians in Ganja to be “Azerbaijani propaganda.” On top of that, Armenians literally fired upon a European crew of journalists near Talisha and another one in Tartar.
Reporters without Borders added: “In Armenia, a decree adopted on 8 October bans the publishing of information critical of the government, civil servants and local administrations. It exposes media to the possibility of heavy fines, freezing of assets and deletion of online content. The same day, the foreign ministry rescinded the accreditation of Ilya Azar, the correspondent of the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta – officially for administrative reasons but the ministry cited an article it did not like.”
However, journalists are not the only ones getting attacked due to the existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In Beverly Hills, California, a mob of Armenians vandalized a Turkish restaurant and yelled obscenities due to their anger over what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh. Sarah Elizabeth Dill, a human rights lawyer, claimed that she was also targeted: “Truly astonishing that my office is now receiving threatening calls from Armenians, filled with hate speech as well. I have never encountered this in my career.” Tsukerman, who has also been writing about the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, stressed that these individuals are not alone: “@TUPolished and @TimberwolfP both received threats, obscenities and fraudulent violation reports among other forms of pressures. I’ve personally received threats and vile anti-Semitic attacks. This further underscores the weakness of Armenia’s position.”
In conclusion, Dill declared: “Losing loved ones, seeing your lands and property destroyed, or being displaced from your homeland are utterly tragic and leave pain and trauma that can last for years and this leads to strong emotions and anger. But as we have seen around the globe, prolonged conflicts where sides engage in extensive hate speech and refuse to focus upon solutions and peace only leads to extensive and widespread civilian suffering and harm that will take decades to repair.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of JerusalemOnline.