Armenian paper blames BBC Karabakh Internet page for bias

Armenian paper blames BBC Karabakh Internet page for bias

Golos Armenii
27 May 04

The Armenian newspaper Golos Armenii has criticized the BBC Russian
web site on the 10 years of the Karabakh cease-fire, saying that it
reflects only Azerbaijan’s position on the conflict. The web site does
not contain any Armenian view on the Karabakh conflict, excerpt for
“kind human interest stories” about the mood of Karabakh’s Armenian
residents, the newspaper said. Golos Armenii said that the authors
of the Karabakh web page have not presented the facts correctly, and
added that “an open lie” in such a painful issue cannot help start
a dialogue between the conflicting sides. The following is the text
of Marina Grigoryan’s report by Armenian newspaper Golos Armenii on
27 May headlined “‘The Karabakh project’ of the BBC: is everything
allowed?”. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

The Russian editorial office of the BBC (bbcrussian) has opened
“a Karabakh page” on its Internet web site, which is especially
dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the cease-fire in the conflict
zone. According to its authors, its purpose is “to create opportunities
for contacts between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the conflict
region, as well as in the whole world”. So the site is to promote the
development of “people’s diplomacy” and strengthen the peace process.

“Difficult and thankless task”

Of course, the implementation of such a project is a difficult and
thankless task, taking into account the particular abnormality and
bloodiness of the conflict, which has been going on for about 20 years,
and judging by recent events, its importance has not decreased. And
although the aspiration to help the Armenians and Azerbaijanis to
start a virtual dialogue was declared as its main purpose, it is
clear that such a page on the web site of one of the influential
world mass media will become an opportunity for Internet users to
familiarize themselves with the history and heart of the conflict,
its present state, the attitude to the problem in today’s Yerevan,
Stepanakert and Baku, and to learn the opinion of famous people who
are related to the issue in this or other way.

>>From this point of view, a person who knows the problem very well and
follows the development of the situation has many questions. And more
or less detailed research into the site leads to certain conclusions,
which I think are due to the fact that the BBC is a state corporation
and the Karabakh page on the BBCRUSSIAN Internet web site reflects in
some way the policy and interests of the UK in our region. Although
those who have created the site are trying to keep a veneer of
impartiality, there are many questions for them.

“Evident subjectivity”

Let us start with the most unbiased sector: the chronology of the
conflict. The short lines seem to reflect the historical events in
reality. But in close examination, the subjectivity of those who
have created the “chronology” becomes evident, although it may not
be so evident to people who do not know the history of the conflict
very well.

For instance: everything concerning the Azerbaijani party was conveyed
with a barely perceptible emotional slant which causes sympathy for
the “victims”. It is achieved by means of such expressions as “the
mass banishment of Azeris from Armenia” or “Azeris are running away
from Kafan”. The point is about January and November 1988 – “dozens,
hundreds and thousands” Azeris killed in the course of hostilities. At
the same time, the unprecedented tragedies of “Sumqayit” and “Baku”
are characterized only as “Armenian pogroms”, and there is no word
about the excruciating death of dozens of innocent people and no hint
about hundreds of thousands of Armenians who ran away from medieval
brutality and barbarity and whose influx, as is known, started long
before the “exile of Azeris from Armenia”!

Do you not agree that a poorly-informed reader gets the impression that
in spite of the pogroms, Armenians continued to live in Azerbaijan all
that time and live there even today (one more piece of disinformation
which is actively promoted by the Azerbaijani party), while from
the very beginning the Armenians, “forcibly and on a mass scale”,
deported their neighbours from their own territory?

Then the “Incidents” connected with Armenians are presented in quite a
cunning way. For instance: “18 October. Demonstration in Yerevan as a
protest against incidents with the Armenian population of the Chadakhlu
village, to the north of Karabakh.” Why are the consequences fixed, but
the fact itself is not presented? Why is it not explained what kind of
“incidents” they were that caused demonstrations in Yerevan? Why,
when talking about Operation “Koltso”, the authors of the site
do not talk about the numerous victims of the Armenian civilians,
including hundreds and thousands driven away as hostages and lost
forever? Why in a sector dedicated to Shushi [Susa] is it said that
“Azeris consider that town to be a “cradle of national culture”? As
for the Armenians, this town is only of “strategic significance”,
as it is situated at the height over Karabakh.

By the way, I cannot refuse pleasure and submit a devastating fact:
as proof that Shushi is “a cradle of national culture”, the names
of the famous representatives of national culture are named on the
web site: one republican scale poetess and [Azerbaijani singer and
Minister of Culture] Polad Bulbuloglu. I think they could not find
other names. They could not mention the names of the famous Armenian
Shushi residents, could they? But in all probability, the authors
of the site were not happy to listen to the songs of the “prominent”
singer-functionary, otherwise they would be really surprised by the
“cradle” that gave birth and educated such a “culture”.

“Evidence of bias”

Many such examples can be presented, and it is evidence of the reality:
it is important not only to what to inform but also how to inform. One
more example which is evidence of the bias of those who created the
site directly affects the understanding of the conflict by the visitors
of the site. The referendum conducted on 2 September 1990 in the
Nagornyy Karabakh Republic [NKR] according to the strict international
judicial norms is mentioned as: “Nagornyy Karabakh declared separation
from independent Azerbaijan”. After this one should not be surprised by
the bewildered questions from different countries of the world in the
“Forum” sector: “Why do they not conduct a pan-national democratic
referendum in Karabakh that will define the destiny of the region?”

Let us leave chronology and look into another sector with the
tear-jerking headline “A friend in need is a friend indeed” and a no
less pompous subheading “History knows many examples when interethnic
hostility was powerless against a common misfortune” (where is this
“Sovietism” coming from on the Western radio station?). Everything
would be normal, if they submitted examples of how some Azeris were
saving Armenians – their neighbours and friends during terrible

But tell me please, men from the BBC, why did you touch on the wound
of the Armenian nation – Spitak earthquake on 7 December 1988? Show
me at least one adult Armenian resident who did not remember the
Azerbaijani carriages that arrived in Armenia with humanitarian
aid and inscriptions “Congratulations on the earthquake!” – it is
difficult to imagine more blasphemy and inhumanity. But according to
the Russian editorial office of the BBC, it was a “common misfortune”
and “the Azeris directed to Armenia, which was suffering a disaster,
an aeroplane carrying rescuers – ‘civil defence fighters'”, which
did not arrive in Armenia because of a crash! Sorry, but such crude
and primitive lies do not become the world famous corporation.

“Open lie”

Does it not seem to the authors of the page that an open lie in such a
painful issue cannot help start a “dialogue”? On the contrary, it can
only give rise to distrust in the project, created with pretension
to objectivity, but in many cases coming out of the frames of even
clear disagreements and variant readings. The third moment. There are
two interviews on the site: with an [Azerbaijani] playwright Rustam
Ibrahimbayov and the OSCE Minsk Group diplomat Vladimir Kazimirov. I
do not know the reason for such a choice, but one thing is clear:
there is no Armenian viewpoint on the web site. In this case, the
parity was not even formally kept, because two short reports from
Yerevan and Stepanakert [Xankandi]- are simply kind human interest
stories telling of the mood of today’s Armenian residents and about
a Karabakh girl who is drawing the world. Quite another thing is
an interview with Rustam Ibrahimbayov who calls himself a “world
citizen”. Along with the praiseworthy restraint of his assessments,
the Azerbaijani writer has achieved his goal: “I give both parties
the right to consider Karabakh their land. I do not have a right
to refuse Armenians such a right. But as a world citizen, I think –
is it possible to settle such problems by armed forcible methods? I
categorically say ‘no’! And even if the Armenian party manages to
prove that historically, politically, etc. these lands should be
moved away from Azerbaijan, all the same, I think in the 20th and
21st centuries to settle the problem by means of war – is a crime
against humanity on the whole.” The journalist who puts questions
to the “world citizen” prudently keeps silence that only compatriots
of the famous playwright were the first to apply force, by the way,
not in the course of hostilities, but against civilians – their own
citizens, and then declared a war against the Karabakh residents,
terribly bombing hungry and cold Karabakh for several months – by
the way, there is no word about this on the site.

Then the writer assures the Karabakh residents that it will be more
profitable for them to be within Azerbaijan, because “Azerbaijan means
oil, and Armenians are potential businessmen”. In all probability, for
“the engineer of human souls”, Ibrahimbayov, there is no other high
category than “black oil” and all the “profits” stemming from it. The
articles of independent monitors are also presented on the site, in
particular, of an employee of the institute on peace and war coverage,
the author of the book “Black garden” Tom de Vaal. Certainly, every
person has a right to form an opinion about the conflict and make
their own assessments, and I am not going to condemn and criticize
Mr Vaal’s position. But I would like to ask him only one question:
why does he think that the Armenian nation, through its president,
should apologize to the Azerbaijanis?

As for the Azerbaijani nation and its president, they do not need
to do this, and the latter can kindly call “home his citizens –
Azerbaijanis”. If Mr Vaal, who visited the NKR and did not understand
where the home of a Karabakh resident is, I would like to ask him
– what did he understand about the conflict on the whole? We can
speak about the Karabakh project of the BBC more, but I think it
is enough for its assessment as being subjective in its choice and
interpretation of the facts. The absence of the material where the
position of the Armenian party is presented, as it is done in case
of Azerbaijani Ibrahimbayov, compels us to pricks up our ears. As a
result, we have the feeling that the project is being politicized,
which will unfortunately become an obstacle for achieving its goals –
to stimulate the development of contacts between the public of both
sides. The projects within the framework of “people’s diplomacy”
may bear and are already bearing fruit only if they serve their
direct purpose.

Azerbaijan is more successful in information war

At the same time, we would like to look at the Karabakh project from
another point of view as well. On the whole, it is already for ten
years that a cease-fire has been preserved in the conflict zone. But an
information war has existed even longer. It started with the articles
and TV reports of the Soviet period. And if we look at this site
from that point of view, what has each party managed to achieve in
this most significant component of today’s contradiction? One thing
is evident: the Azerbaijanis have had more success in conveying the
conflict to the world in a way that is advantageous to them. Here it
is irrelevant to speak about the foul means by which they achieved
this goal. But the result is evident, and the Karabakh page of the
BBC is demonstrates it well. In short, it may be formed in two most
important propaganda theses.

First – hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees are actively
presented in all the documents and materials concerning the Karabakh
conflict. The Armenian refugees have been practically ruled out from
the context of the problem.

Second – the efforts Azerbaijan is making on the recognition of
Armenia as an aggressor are gradually achieving their goal – it
has already taken place if not directly, then indirectly, because
the term “occupied territories” is used practically everywhere
and without any reserve. It seems that even in Armenia itself they
have resigned themselves to this, thanks to the “heroic” efforts of
our local diplomats who always find an excuse for their own cruel
failures and who have accustomed us to the country’s defeats in the
world arena. But this is a theme of another conversation, though very
topical, in the context of the new Internet web site of the BBC.

The lack of talent in the Karabakh issue policy, the repeated failures
of the Armenian party at the level of international discussions
on the problem of importance to the country, a number of documents
adopted recently, which unequivocally reflect the position of the
Azerbaijani party – all this and many other things testify to the
following fact: today’s generation of Armenian diplomats and all those
who are responsible for the Karabakh problem are unable to make the
world community understand the TRUTH [capitalization as published]
about Karabakh.

This has made possible the appearance and gradual domination of
LIES about Karabakh in the world’s news sources. And this calls into
question the future fair settlement to the problem. From this point
of view, a dangerous situation is taking shape because of those
politicians we are gradually losing immunity and neutrality on the
lies and misinformation about what happened to us and in our land
10-15 years ago.

Once, when the situation was quite different from today, we could
hardly allow somebody to tell a LIE about us and our motherland.

P.S. By the way, the BBC is flattering Ibrahimbayov, calling him
the author of the “White sun of the desert” film scenario. It is
known that the scenario of the famous film was written by the famous
playwright B. Yezhov, who recently passed away. As for Ibrahimbayov,
he was only an assistant consultant on the east.