Armenophobia

(anti-Armenianism)

What is Armenophobia?

Armenophobia (also known as anti-Armenianism) is anti-Armenian sentiments that involve fears, dislikes, xenophobia, racism and negative attitudes towards Armenians, Armenia and Armenian culture. It is usually expressed by fervent denial of the Armenian Genocide and conspiracy theories of a global Armenian cabal with an intent to fabricate history and manipulate political opinion. As a result of these and other unfounded theories, the Armenian people in the Diaspora have been subjected to hate crimes including the desecration of Armenian Genocide monuments, verbal and physical violence and even death.

Armenian Genocide memorial desecrated in Lyon, France.

Grey Wolves

The Grey Wolves is a Turkish ultra-right organization and movement affiliated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Turkey. It is an extremely anti-Armenian, ultranationalistic, islamist and neo-Ottoman organization commonly found in Turkey, across Europe, Canada and the United States. The Grey Wolves’ prime targets are Armenians and Greeks. The fascist organization aggressively denies the Armenian Genocide, conducts hate crimes, holds anti-Armenian marches and even calls for the deaths of Armenians. 

The salutation of the Grey Wolves.

Countries with highest Armenophobic incidents

Turkey

Armenophobia is most rampant in Turkey where intolerance and outright racism towards Armenians is systematic and state-sponsored. Historian Cenk Saraçoğlu argues that anti-Armenian attitudes in Turkey “are no longer constructed and shaped by social interactions between the ‘ordinary people’ … Rather, the Turkish media and state promote and disseminate an overtly anti-Armenian discourse.”

Much of the rhetoric from the Turkish government revolves around Armenian Genocide Denial and anger towards Genocide recognition laws introduced around the world that are mainly put forth by the Armenian Diaspora. Currently only the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny the planned systematic genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government in World War I. However, some 30 countries officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and its denial is a crime in Greece, Cyprus, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovakia.

In 2011, a survey in Turkey showed that 73.9% of respondents admitted having undesirable views toward Armenians. The survey showed that anti-Armenian sentiments were widespread among those with low levels of education and socioeconomic status.

According to Minority Rights Group, the Government of Turkey recognizes today’s Armenians in Turkey as a minority group with second-class status by their definition.

While there are countless anti-Armenian incidents in Turkey, some notable ones caused horror among Armenians that live in Turkey and around the world. Hrant Dink, the editor of the weekly bilingual newspaper Agos, was assassinated in Istanbul on January 19, 2007 by Ogün Samast, who was reportedly acting on the orders of Yasin Hayal, a militant Turkish ultra-nationalist. Dink was assassinated for his statements on Armenian identity and the Armenian Genocide. Prior to his death, Dink had been prosecuted three times under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for “insulting Turkishness”.

On September 9, 2015, a crowd of Turkish youth marching in Armenian populated districts of Istanbul chanted, “We must turn these districts into Armenian and Kurdish cemeteries.”

In 2002, a monument was erected in memory of Turkish-Armenian composer Onno Tunç in Yalova, Turkey. The monument was vandalized over the course of many years. In 2012 Yalova Municipal Assembly decided to remove the monument. The mayor at the time said the monument was to be replaced with a new one due to its damage. The monument was never replaced.

In September 2015, a ‘Welcome’ sign was installed in Iğdır and written in four languages – Turkish, Kurdish, English, and Armenian. The Armenian portion of the sign was protested by the xenophobic ultra-nationalist ASIM-DER group who demanded its removal. In October 2015, the Armenian portion of the ‘Welcome’ sign was heavily vandalized. It was eventually removed in June 2016.

On February 26, 2012, a large demonstration took place in Istanbul which contained hate speech and threats towards Armenia and Armenians. Among the slogans during the demonstration were: “You are all Armenian, you are all bastards,” “bastards of Hrant [Dink] can not scare us,” and “Taksim Square today, Yerevan Tomorrow: We will descend upon you suddenly in the night” (Yerevan is the capital of Armenia).

In 2012 the ASIM-DER group targeted Armenian schools, churches, foundations and individuals in Turkey as part of an anti-Armenian hate campaign.

On August 5, 2014, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a televised interview on NTV news network said, “You wouldn’t believe the things they have said about me. They have said I am Georgian…they have said even uglier things – they have called me Armenian, but I am Turkish.

In October 2020 when Azerbaijan waged war on the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), Turkey assisted its ethnic cousin Azerbaijan by providing its top military officials and Bayraktar killer drones. Turkey also imported Syrian jihadi terrorists who were paid to fight alongside Azerbaijani troops in the context of solidarity with their ‘Muslim brothers’.

Hate speech in Turkish media towards Armenians compared to other minorities
Hate speech in Turkish media towards Armenians compared to other minorities (2014).

On December 10, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took part in an anti-Armenian military parade in Azerbaijan, displaying Turkish flags and drones. In his own speech, Erdogan declared, “Today, may the souls of Nuri Pasha, Enver Pasha, and the brave soldiers of the Caucasus Islam Army, be happy.” Enver Pasha was the Minister of War in the Young Turks government and one of the three perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.

Azerbaijan

Armenophobia in Azerbaijan is state-sponsored and deeply rooted in Azeri culture. It’s an institutionalized phenomenon taught at a young age. Armenians of Azerbaijan experience racial discrimination on a regular basis and even death. Anti-Armenian sentiments are expressed freely on state television and other media on a daily basis.

Armenophobia has a history in the region that dates back to the early 20th century when Armenians and Muslims inhabited the lands that are today called Azerbaijan. Prior to 1918 when Azerbaijan was formed, these Muslim tribes were mainly made up of Caucasian or Tatar Turks. They would later call themselves Azerbaijani.

During the time of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey, Azerbaijan massacred thousands of Armenians. As ethnic cousins of Turks in Turkey, Azerbaijanis saw a good opportunity to carry out pogroms and massacres of Armenians from 1918 to 1920 in cities like Baku and Shushi.

Ruins of the Armenian quarter of Shushi after it was destroyed
by the Azerbaijani army in 1920.

The current xenophobia and racism in Azerbaijan toward Armenia and Armenians derives mainly from the last years of the Soviet Union, when Armenians rose up and demanded the Russian authorities to incorporate the mostly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) with the Armenian SSR. In response to Armenian claims of their indigenous lands, the Azerbaijani Popular Front organized pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku. Up to 350,000 Armenians left between1988 and1990 after anti-Armenian violence got out of hand.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance report on Azerbaijan stated that “the constant negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia helps to sustain a negative climate of opinion regarding people of Armenian origin, who remain vulnerable to discrimination.”

The Armenians have long been sounding the alarm that the Azerbaijanis intend to eliminate any traces of Armenian presence in Nakhichevan – an Azerbaijani enclave near the south west border of Armenia and to this end have been carrying out massive and irreversible destruction of Armenian cultural monuments.

Satellite imagery and many documentaries showed that 89 Armenian churches, 5,840 khachkars (cross stones) and 22,000 tombstones were destroyed between 1997 and 2006, including the medieval cemetery of Djulfa, the largest and most ancient Armenian cemetery in the world. Member of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, Charles Tannock argued, “This is very similar to the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban. They have concreted the area over and turned it into a military camp.”

During and after the 44-day war that Azerbaijan launched on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) between November 2020 and December 2020, unspeakable war crimes were committed on Armenian POWs and kidnapped civilians. Azerbaijanis proudly posted the beheadings of Armenians and other committed atrocities on social media.

Georgia

The prevalence of anti-Armenian sentiments has been around for centuries in Georgia. The economic dominance of Armenians in the capital Tbilisi has fuelled random attacks on Armenians. A lot of the rhetoric comes from political and media sources. Droeba, an influential journal, described Armenians as people who “strip our streets and fatten their pockets” and “buy the last piece of property from our indebted peasant families.”

Ilia Chavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli, two major literary figures, attacked Armenians for corrupting Georgian society. Tsereteli portrayed Armenians as fleas sucking Georgian blood while Chavchavadze denounced Armenians for “eating the bread baked by someone else or drinking that which is created by another’s sweat.” Chavchavadze’s newspaper, Iveria, published xenophobic articles. In one it said Armenians were “sly moneylenders and unscrupulous traders.” 

Jigrashen Avetyats Church was situated in Old Tbilisi district near the Armenian Bazaar. Destroyed in 1937-1938.

The paper also claimed that the separatist Abkhazian republic was receiving financial assistance from Armenians in the United States.

In July 2014, the Armenian Ejmiatsin Church in Tbilisi was attacked. The Armenian diocese said it was “a hate crime committed on ethnic and religious grounds.”

In 2018 the Tandoyants Armenian church in Tbilisi was gifted to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate. The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Orthodox Church in Georgia stated that the church was “illegally transferred” to the Georgian Patriarchate.

More country specific data coming shortly.

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