Greta Van Fleet, Diplo, The Wombats, Cigarettes After Sex and more are also set to play the inaugural edition in Mumbai next year
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System Of A Down's frontman is petitioning the US band to call off the gig, as a "humanitarian catastrophe" wages on in a region of the country
By Lisa Henderson on 17 Aug 2023
System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian is publicly petitioning Imagine Dragons to cancel their upcoming concert in Azerbaijan, this September.
The American-Armenian musician took to social media last night (16 August) to urge Imagine Dragons to call off the Baku concert due to the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Nagorno-Karabagh – a region within Azerbaijan’s borders but dominated by ethnic Armenians.
In his post, Tankian pointed out that “Azerbaijan’s petro-oligarchic dictatorial regime was starving 120k people in Nagorno-Karabagh which is now being called a Genocide by the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”
Tankian said he had previously sent a “kind letter” to the band through representatives “urging them to reconsider” the show, but did not receive a response. His post also includes a change.org petition, which has garnered 4,859 signatures of the desired 5,000.
Tankian wrote: “As the humanitarian crisis worsens in Nagorno-Karabagh with starvation already being recorded I am forced to publicize this letter and [Imagine Dragons’] disregard for this humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe they felt they had a legal liability to play the show, maybe they just don’t care. My whole life I have been an advocate for genocide recognition and have always said there has to be a price to pay for Genocidal regimes or deniers. Another genocide is looming by Azerbaijan and while this happens they get to enjoy an American band from LV. Fuck that! That’s not right.”
In his letter to Imagine Dragons, Tankian congratulated the American band on their track record of philanthropy. “One of the things I appreciate about you as artists is that you’re active proponents of various human rights issues and social causes. Your work with Amnesty International and your outspokenness about the war in Ukraine among them,” he wrote.
“Another genocide is looming by Azerbaijan and while this happens they get to enjoy an American band from LV. Fuck that!”
Explaining the severity of the situation, Tankian wrote: “This is due to the horrendous human rights violations carried out by the corrupt petro-oligarchic dictatorship of Ilham Aliyev against not only his own people, but thousands of Armenians (my people). Since 2020, Azerbaijan has created war against Armenians, killing thousands, displacing tens of thousands and terrorizing countless more via an illegal blockade that has been ordered to be reopened by the ICJ and the European Court of Human Rights.”
“With the world in so much turmoil since COVID and the subsequent war in Ukraine, too much of the world is still unaware of what’s happening to Armenians by Aliyev’s regime. They’ve invaded Armenia and have been carrying out heinous human rights violations with impunity. International events and performances by artists have only served to normalize and whitewash their status among the family of nations.”
Tankian concluded: “I really feel that performing in Azerbaijan would have a negative impact on your brand as well. I’m confident that you can decipher all the facts for yourselves to decide whether to cancel your concert. Either way, I truly appreciate your time and consideration. Thanks for hearing me out and I hope to meet you all one day.”
“Imagine Dragons needs to be made aware they are being USED to white-wash the criminal & genocidal Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan”
The change.org petition, that Tankian included in his post also says: “Imagine Dragons needs to be made aware they are being USED to white-wash the criminal & genocidal Aliyev regime of Azerbaijan.”
In September last year, System Of A Down condemned the “evil aggression” against Armenia in the wake of bombings that took place along the nation’s eastern border.
The band – all of whom are of Armenian descent – were at the forefront of campaigning for recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915, and have continued with their efforts to speak up for the nation amid ongoing unrest.
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