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“Us” in “their” war


“The Unwomanly Face of War” is the name of the famous novel by Svetlana Alexievich. The novel that has collected stories of women who participated in the Great Patriotic War. Indeed, the face of war is different. That face is familiar to all of us. That face is well-known in every household, in every city, and in every country. We know that face very well. The war only has one face and that face looks more similar to the face of the problematic man.


No matter from which adequate perspective we try to interpret the war, it will always remind us of nightmares and horrors. Yet, for us, not for them. First of all, we have to be able to differentiate this: Who are “we” and who are “they”? Let’s start with “them”. They are the ones who have economical, political stake in the war, the ones who organize it and maintain its continuity, the ones who instrumentalize problems as a solution. The scale of their power is far above ours. Who are ‘’we’’? We are the forced participants of war, we are its victims. We are collections of statistical figures for them, we are just ‘’somebodies’’.

The Second Karabakh War, in the vein of all other wars, was a state massacre committed for specific purposes. In this war, just like the others, thousands of innocent people were killed and thousands of people were sent to their death, against their will. The state can change its shape to “motherland” whenever it wishes so and demand you to sacrifice yourself for her. It’s very intriguing and ironic that patriarchal states characterize the notion of “homeland” they have adapted not as ‘’father’’ but as a ‘’mother. They are trying to give the state a bigger and more sacral meaning than there actually is. They exploit the emotional weight the figure of “Mother” carries with itself. Under the influence of all this propaganda, it becomes much easier to become a victim because of mafia clashes of oil and political clans that were ruling the countries during the first and the second war. However, even on this occasion, the patriarchal state did not turn away from its discourse. Hierarchical distinctions were made between the victims by deciding who deserved the “hero” title and who didn't, mainly based on their ideological requirements.


One of the most striking examples of this was when the press secretary of the State Maritime Agency, Tural Museyibov insulted The April Clashes participant and the martyr of The Second Karabakh War, Shaig Kalbiyev on his personal Facebook account. Quote: ”What a shit the LGBT is that its member can go and become a martyr? Why do you remember them with such respect? It’s so insignificant to remember them”. The issue here was not some personal conflict. The government official insulted Shaig and all LGBT people who had participated and died in the war just because they were queer. There was an immense response to this on social networks. Some supported the official’s statements while others demanded him to be fired from his position. All this happened a couple of hours after “ a famous Azerbaijani writer” shared his photo at Shaig’s funeral service stating “ There are no homophobes in Azerbaijan”. Due to the large number of reactions, Tural Museyibov was fired and commented on a press release that he had been misunderstood. Yet neither The State Maritime Agency nor any other government official announced in their official statements that this was in fact not the state’s position, that the rights of LGBTQ people and women should always be protected. It is no surprise to anybody that the fate of these kinds of dismissals ends up with the officials getting rewarded with a new position after some break, without it spreading over to the media. Without a doubt, this ex-official knew the consequences of his abuse. But this couldn’t stop him, simply because he, as well as other state representatives, know very well the lack of protection afforded to the LGBTQ and feminist community at a legislative level. As a result, he and his alikes neither hesitate nor refrain from making patriarchal attacks against vulnerable communities. The reason why his position is not officially denied by the state is clear to all of us. Tural Museyibov spoke not only for himself but also on the behalf of the state.


Before writing this article, whoever I talked with and told that the hero of my article will be the female martyr of the Second Karabakh war Aresta Bakhishova, generally the reactions I observed were shock followed by the question: “Was there a female martyr in this war?”. I don’t think the problem lies with the people who reacted in such a way. The point is that very little was talked about Aresta Bakhishova in the press. Except for a few sparsely read websites and news portals, it was almost impossible to get any information about her. You may disagree with my opinion. But you have to consider certain nuances. The most important of these is the attitude of government officials towards women at various times, especially towards women in the army. A year ago former MP Jumshud Nuriyev, in an interview with the state channel, insulted all the women veterans and martyrs of Azerbaijan[1]. In his speech, he remarked that the woman battalion was created in order to boost morale among male soldiers. He was unable to stand the public pressure and commented that he was misunderstood afterwards. Obviously, these sorts of “misunderstandings” are not a result of the person’s opinion but the public pressure.


There are many such examples. Another MP, Eldar Guliyev, commented on the March of 8 March, saying, "They took to the streets and embarrassed us"[2]. Others can also make such remarks. Because its punishment is maximum to show it was simply “ a misunderstanding”. If the system and its laws are designed by and for "them", if the constitution serves the protection of identities akin to its own framers, at the expense of blindness towards the oppression of "us" - all the LGBTQs, women, and marginalized others - it does not only render us defenceless but also provides a ground for organizing the attack on us. Today, the producer of every bullet aimed at us is the very same system that is not for everyone.


As a last remark, if the state and its legislation do not consider us, why should we sacrifice our lives to ensure its existence and preservation?! If the system belongs to “them” why the war belongs to all of us?! Why should we provide life support to this bloody machine, to our source of violence, oppression, discrimination, and suffering?! Maybe it is the right decision to condemn this apalling creature to the most violent death it deserves! Don’t you think the same ?!


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