Rewritting History

Recently I read an article called “History Lessons in Armenia and Azerbaijan.” To summarize, it talked about how school history books are written in both countries. One of my favorite topics has always been history, and I was appalled at the way history books were written in Azerbaijan. To give you an idea, here is a bit from the article:

“Tofig Veliyev, head of the Slavic history department at Baku State University, is the author of this textbook, and insists he had to use negative language in order to tell the truth. ‘Those phrases give an accurate picture of the Armenians,’ Veliyev said. ‘I would be falsifying history unless I described them like that.'”

By ‘these phrases’ he is referring to words that are used in the books such as, “fascists,” “our eternal enemies,” and “terrorists.” I can say that as an Armenian, this infuriated me. As a student, it’s a different story. I attended a very liberal high school, so I am not used to propaganda and lies. Most of my history books were boring and concrete. There was no bias at all. In my high school, my world history teacher took a day off and taught us about the Armenian Genocide from notes he prepared himself because our history book had one sentence about it. Seeing how history ‘professors’ are slanting history and writing books that are lies and getting away with it makes me wonder what their intentions are. Azerbaijan is raising generations of students who will hate Armenians.

Rouben Galichian writes about Armenian geography, and one of his books talk about how Azerbaijan history distorts Armenian history and claims it as its own. He started writing about the topic because of his concern of Azerbaijani claims. One of these historical monuments is the medieval Armenian cemetery at Julfa, which Azerbaijan called their own and then destroyed it. He also talks about the Aliyev Foundation, which spends millions on publishing books about ‘Azerbaijan history.’ One of the books that the Aliyev Foundation distributed had a map of Armenia on the cover and it says, “Western Azerbaijan.” In the book all the monuments in Armenia are named either Turkish or Turkic. I think that something like this should raise the alarm for Armenians across the world.

I believe that we should be teaching students in schools about peace, tolerance and ways to get along. Instead, there are countries like Azerbaijan, who write books based on biases. Those kids will never want to work with Armenians in positive ways. It is not professional to write books that refer to any group of people as fascists or terrorists.

One of the things I didn’t like in high school was a teacher who wanted you think exactly like they did. I have had teachers who wanted me to write essays from three different points of views so that I could decide which one I believed in. But I also had teachers who wanted me to write what they fed me. The reason I think like I do is because of teachers who made me get to the conclusion on my own.

This is such a hard topic to write about because, as I write this, I think of all the students who are in Azerbaijan–the ones that are learning right now to hate me. I feel sorry for them because they will never understand, tolerate, or even be remotely correct. This anti-Armenian behavior sickens me, but I guess you can’t expect more from ignorant people. All I can say now is that as long as history is distorted by so called ‘professionals’ there will never be peace among anyone.

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