Student Activists Face Down Azerbaijan’s Propaganda Machine

NORTHRIDGE, CA–Students and human rights activists recently attended a talk by Consul General of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov held Wednesday at California State University-Northridge (CSUN), the Armenian National Committee Reported

The lecture, organized at the requested of Suleymanov, was titled “The Geopolitics of Energy Security in Eurasia, Central Asia, Europe and America,” and served as a propaganda event to present Azerbaijan as a stable democracy and investment receptacle for the west.

Suleymanov attempted to portray Azerbaijan as a country of “stability, with unmatched regional cooperation and [as] an ideal location for investment”.

Concerned students, in a collaborative effort, produced flyers on the event and disseminated materials to attendees and passers-by, informing them about Azerbaijan’s bleak human rights record and history of war-mongering in the region.

During the presentation, students also asked the Consul General questions regarding the Azerbaijani President’s repeated and explicit threats of war over Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s swelling list of human rights violations, the rampant government corruption plaguing the government, the Sumgait Massacre of Armenia’s and the disinformation campaign of the Azerbaijani government against Armenia.

Those participating were members of various organizations, including the CSUN Armenian Students Association, Shant Student Association, the Armenian Youth Federation and the AEO Fraternity.

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has used soaring oil revenues to buildup the country’s military to launch a new war against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, which have isolated from regional projects,” said Armen Aboulian, Chairman of the ARF Shant Student Association. “As United States citizens, we refuse to partake in a relationship whose profits will be used to undermine the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and its people’s rights to self-determination.”

Wednesday’s presentation by Suleymanov comes amid heightened activism by the Azerbaijani government in the United States, working with Azeri and Turkish Americans on college campuses and in the halls of Congress and state legislatures, to distort the facts of the Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan’s interests.

Late last Month, a group of Azeri’s stages anti-Armenia demonstrations in Washington DC, protesting against what they called “Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan” and demanding that Armenia’s "get out" of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan’s government earlier this year announced February 20 – March 1 would be considered Khojaly Awareness Days, kicking off what they called an international memorial effort that would be observed at all the Azeri embassies and consulates in the United States.

On February 22, the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles staged a public event on Khojaly. The event came two days after the American Council of Turkish-speaking Students Association at Berkeley University and Northern California Cultural Center sponsored a conference at UC Berkeley titled “Tragedy of Khojaly.”

Since being appointed in 2005, Suleymanov has been actively working to reshape Azerbaijan’s image in the Western United States, speaking at places like the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and in states like Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Last August he addressed a group of local world history schoolteachers as part of a two-week training workshop about historical and contemporary links between Europe and Azia hosted at UCLA. Through Suleymanov, these K-12 teachers learned about Azerbaijan’s struggle to survive and to succeed” in an “inflamed” region.

“The misinformation campaign of the Azerbaijani government continues,” stated Andrew Kzirian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee–Western Region. “Our community is committed to working with human rights activists to ensure that America knows the facts when it comes to Artsakh and Azerbaijan."

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