Yerevan Press Club and “Yeni Nesil” Journalists’ Union of Azerbaijan released Glossary of Hate Speech in the Media of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The most common clichés, stereotypes and examples of inaccurate (or reasonably questioned) information in the media of Armenia and Azerbaijan, presented in the Glossary, are the result of the joint studies on the Armenian and Azerbaijani journalism, administered by two organizations for the past ten years (from 2001 to 2010).
The articles of the Glossary follow the outline, common for all three sections: the frequency of use of the given cliché/stereotype/inaccurate information is mentioned, as well as the existence of the “mirroring” version in the media of the other party; the most frequent source of the cliché/stereotype/inaccurate information is noted (journalists, experts, politicians, officials); examples from media publications are quoted; the comment, analyzing the reasons for negative perception of the cliché/stereotype/inaccurate information by the other party, is provided; and the recommendations as to how their use can be avoided, alternative options are proposed that can evoke more neutral reactions in the audience of the other country and ultimately help to calm the climate of hate and hostility.
“Aggression” is one of the most frequently used clichés in the media of both countries. While Azerbaijani media claim about “aggression of Armenia”, the Armenian media do quite the opposite – talk about “aggression of Azerbaijan”. Another persistent cliché in the Armenian media – “propagandist lies and fraud of Azerbaijan” has a “mirror” version in the Azerbaijani media – “Armenian propaganda/lie”.
Quite persistent stereotype in Azerbaijani media – “Armenia is a hostile country/an Armenian is an enemy” opposes to stereotype often used in Armenian media – “Azerbaijan is a bitter enemy of Armenia/Azerbaijanis are eternal enemies of Armenians”. Authors of the Glossary are convinced that the use of these stereotypes is unacceptable as they are directed to the formation and reinforcement of an enemy image represented by a whole nation, of racist ideas. Moreover, these stereotypes are often present in stories that are not directly related to the Karabagh conflict. It is hardly possibly to fully exclude the use of these stereotypes in the media of both countries, given the present situation in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. That is why the study’s authors recommend media to significantly limit reproduction of these stereotypes, in particular, avoiding their use in stories that are not related to specific aspects of the conflict, so as to restrict the negative impact of the stereotypes on public sentiment.
The Glossary classes the information on ceasefire as reasonably questioned information. The media of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as a rule, report the incidents along the frontline simultaneously, providing contradicting interpretation of the incidents, whether the initiators of the shootings or the casualties. In virtually all cases of shootings there are no certain proofs as to which party is to blame. None of the countries has independent sources, capable to present an objective picture of what happened: such information by media of both countries is disseminated with references to the statements of their official agencies, in particular, the Ministries of Defense. At the same time, the authors of the Glossary are convinced that the lack of those responsible for violated ceasefire year in and year out, lack of punishment result in escalation of such phenomena. The need to investigate each case gains urgency, otherwise the threat of full-fledged military action would become realistic. The journalists could contribute to the independent investigation, if they refuse from relying solely on official sources. Joint investigation of Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists could be particularly effective.
Statements by officials, quotations from speeches by politicians, experts, public figures, journalists, as well as of their names and titles are misrepresented in the media of both countries. Such misrepresentation, whatever its reasons may be, are seen by the audience of the other side as intentional and aimed at misinforming people. And the spelling mistakes are seen by people as humiliating, even more so when in their distorted version they do sound insulting or revoke unpleasant associations. For example, the name Elhan in a publication of Armenian media has been transferred to “Elhar”, which in Azerbaijani means “disgraced in front of the nation”, and the surname Cevikoz has been distorted as Cepkoz, which is translated from Turkish as “crossed eye”. Common in the Azerbaijani media using the names of state symbols, power bodies and ranks of officials of the Mountainous Karabagh in quotation marks (“MK president”/“MK parliament”, etc.) is perceived by Armenian audience, in turn, as an insulting approach, intensifies hostility and disbelief in the possibility of peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The development and publication of the Glossary were made possible through the longstanding partnership between “Yeni Nesil” and YPC within the framework of projects supported by the British Embassies in Baku and Yerevan, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Open Society Institute and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
The authors of the Glossary believe that it should be viewed not only as an evidence of the hostility that has seized the media space of the conflicting parties, but also as a tool useful for those journalists in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Mountainous Karabagh and third countries who seek to produce quality and unbiased coverage of the developments and issues of the region.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON ETHICS CONSIDERED BEHAVIOR OF DEPUTIES TOWARD JOURNALISTS
On March 17, the Committee on Ethics of the National Assembly of Armenia held a closed meeting to consider the complaints of the parliamentary journalists on the behavior of Manvel Badeyan and Arakel Movsisian, MPs from the faction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
The collective complaint of the media representatives, accredited at the parliament, regarding Manvel Badeyan deals with the case, which occurred in December 2013 (hereinafter quoted from Panorama.am). When asked by a parliamentary correspondent why the game “What? Where? When?” on the “Armenia” TV channel is held in Russian and whether it is a violation of the RA Law “On Language”, Manvel Badeyan replied: “You indeed possess such a low developmental level that you think so? I would not be surprised if a Yezidi street-sweeper posed this question, but do you really think so?” (Ed. Note: Yezidis are an ethno-religious community in Armenia, speaking Kurmanji). One should note that not only journalists were concerned about the unethical behavior of the MP, but also the Yezidi community which claimed the MP to be brought to responsibility for the statements insulting the Yezidi people.
The other complaint on the media representatives to the Committee on Ethics deals with the behavior of Arakel Movsisian, another member of the RPA faction. As we have reported, on December 23, 2013, the parliamentary journalists held a protest action against the ratification of the Armenian-Russian intergovernmental agreement so shackling for Armenia. The correspondents unfolded posters with the appeal to MPs to vote against the treaty (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 20-26, 2013). Arakel Movsisian spoke ill about the journalists’ action, advising them “to get the f… out of here”.
The Committee on Ethics has also examined the application of Nikol Pashinian, the deputy from the faction of the opposition Armenian National Congress, who used to be the Chief Editor of the newspaper “Haykakan Zhamanak” before elected MP. The application referred to the possibility for Nikol Pashinian to double-job parliamentary work with the management of the Editorial Board of “Haykakan Zhamanak”.
The Committee on Ethics will deliver the conclusions on all three issues in the near future.