Azerbaijan has been supplying Georgian libraries with books containing hate speech against Armenians. While the libraries don’t see them as a problem, some Azerbaijani Georgians fear they might help plant the seeds of ethnic tension, OC Media reported.
When Imran Gafarov, an Azerbaijani Georgian, came across a book full of territorial claims and hate speech against Armenians at the public library in Marneuli, an Azerbaijani-majority city in southern Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli region, he was in a state of disbelief.
“When I visited the Marneuli library, I saw a book called Western Azerbaijan’s Monuments, written by Aziz Alakbarli. I thought the book would be about the historical monuments located in the west of Azerbaijan. However, as I read the book, it became clear that the book was about monuments situated in the territory of Armenia. The book contained an element of hostility towards Armenians,” Gafarov told OC Media.
The library contains other propagandistic material, which can be divided into three types: hate speech directed at Armenia and Armenians, support for separatist and territorial claims against Iran, and propaganda on behalf of the ruling Aliyev family.
In the same library, the fourth volume of Armenians and Facts contains extreme hate speech on more or less every page. On page 1,925, Armenians are described as ‘gypsies’ and ‘slaves’.
“Armenians are newcomers to Turkey and the Caucasus and have found perfectly habitable lands. They have taken advantage of the hospitality of Turkic peoples and have decided to settle here for good. Nevertheless, they have not been able to rid themselves of their gypsy ways and have become the political puppets of powerful states. They have become the eternal enemies of the overlords whose subjects they used to be.”
Pages 1,942 and 1,943 are filled with openly hateful rhetoric:
“The time will come when Armenians will be cursed by humankind and remembered by scholars, travellers, and historical figures as a two-faced, mischievous, immoral, villainous tribe that distorts history, changing the names of monuments, historical sites and places belonging to Turks, making them Armenian.”
Most of these propagandistic books were published on the order of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Lana Khashalashvili, the director of the library, told OC Media that she was unaware of the presence of hate speech in the books.
As OC Media has revealed, such books are not only available in Marneuli, but also at the Library of Georgia’s National Parliament, the Tbilisi State University and others.
Aida Taghiyeva, an ethnically Azerbaijani social activist from Georgia, believes that books containing hate should be removed from libraries.
“As a result of the pressure exerted by Azerbaijan, around 80% of Georgian Azerbaijanis now hold a certain amount of hate for Armenians. Although this is not evident on the surface, it is felt in certain contexts. Such books reinforce this pressure,” Taghiyeva said.
She also asserted that this pressure forms part of Azerbaijan’s politics.
“The Azerbaijani government sees us as a part of them. Georgian Azerbaijanis filled with hate for Armenians are useful for them. If a conflict arises here, they would use them for their own benefit,” she said, adding justice is not born out of hate and the issues should not be solved by them, but between states.