The interlocutor of 1905.az site is an Azerbaijani Diaspora activist in the US, Mehriban Nasib.
– Ms. Nasib, most Americans are not interested in the issues regarding Azerbaijan’s problems, Armenian aggression which resulted in the loss of 20 percent of our territory, Azerbaijani genocides, etc. What about the people who are prepared and keen to know what is happening in the post-Soviet space? Are we able to provide them with the relevant information?
– Mr. Babayev, you said “most Americans are not interested in the issues regarding Azerbaijan’s problems, Armenian aggression which resulted in the temporary loss of 20 percent of our territories, Azerbaijani genocides, etc”. You are right indeed. This information does not attract their interest. Of course, it is not true for all Americans. Perhaps many Americans are curious to learn, but there are almost no people to deliver this information to them. A typical American citizen is more informed about Armenians and Armenia rather than Azerbaijan’s occupied lands and more than one million internally displaced persons and refugees. When I talked about this issue or shared the information on social networks during my study years at Columbia University, they repeatedly mentioned their unawareness of it. Once I shared an article on the January 20 tragedy, and even my groupmates had no idea about that event.
While almost everyone in America knows about Armenia, Azerbaijan is not known. It is no coincidence. The Armenian lobby in America has been operating for centuries and is very strong. The Azerbaijanis have been living there maximum for 30-40 years, and unluckily, our lobby is not that strong. Azerbaijan’s first diaspora organization, Azerbaijani Society for America and its chair Mrs. Tomris Azeri have done a lot and continue to do in this regard. The Youth Network of the Azerbaijani Youth North America of Pax Turcica Instituion jointly led by Mrs. Tomris Azeri and Mr. Cavid Huseynov work quite a lot and play a considerable role in organizing events related to the recognition of Khojaly Genocide. The aforementioned organizations and institutions are in charge of educating Americans about Azerbaijan and Turkic world in general and actively paricipiate in the political and public life of the United States. It is no coincidence that many states in the US recognized Khojaly Genocide thanks to the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora. I highly appreciate the job done by Mrs. Tomris Azeri and Mr. Cavid Huseynov. As an Azerbaijani young and activist, I consider the activities of such people and organizations a success for Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan New York Association, New York Azerbaijani Women Organizations do much work. Taking advantage of the opportunity, I would like to thank the head of the organization, its members and activists. As for informing people, I think that we have to cooperate with municipalities, high schools, universities. We have to involve American media, Azerbaijani businesspeople and students in the United States to this process. Cultural-political events, conferences on Azerbaijan should be organized. I assure you that it is very important. It is embarassing that many American students have not heard of Azerbaijan, while know Armenia. Some cannot even pronounce the name of our country. It means that we have to work more…
– Are the Armenians in America and the famous Armenian diaspora so strong? And are they really able to prevent us from delivering Azerbaijani realities to the American society?
– Denying the Armanian diaspora`s strength would be a big mistake. Even the phrase “very strong” sounds so weak. They are extremely powerful! We feel it every time. They try to prevent us. For instance, it is very difficult for Azerbaijani diaspora to post information in New York Times,whereas it is a piece of cake for Armenians…
Generally, the Armenian lobby and its activities in America are pretty strong. Unfortunately, I have to confess that they are much more powerful, united and support each other more than we do. If one of them has a chance to enter Senate, others support and assist to the process… While the word “I” is very important among us, the Armenians have developed the notion “we” … We possess neither human resources nor finances to struggle the Armenians.
ASA and Pax Turkica function to earn more recognition of Khojaly Genocide at high level in the USA, but Armenians do their best to prevent the process. I can give another example. The Armenians held a conference at Columbia University in November, 2012. The conference was organized at a high level and attended by at least 150 people, including professors, students. Other guests were the representatives of top level organizations. A lady from the Human Rights Watch talked about the so-called Armenian genocide and the massacre of Armenians by Turks a century ago. An NGO chairwoman from Armenia noted that Armenia had always been subject to the neighbors’ invasion… to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey for years, to Azerbaijan 20 years. According to her, Azerbaijan destroyed their cultural heritage. Upon hearing all this, we answered as Azeri Turks. I took the floor and said that Armenians had believed their own lies and now make others also believe. No one witnessed the so-called Armenian genocide a century ago, and there is no evidence to prove it. However, many people have witnessed the crime and genocide that by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in Khojaly 20 years ago; many people have read and heard about it. At the end, I emphasized that the organizers could have told the guests the truth, instead of providing false information. Since the occupied lands belong to Azerbaijan, it was our cultural heritage that was destroyed it… Having not expected to have an Azeri Turk in the hall, the woman got confused and noted that both sides had had losses during the war. For the next two days, I was not allowed to say anything. The Turkish citizen of Armenian origin Ayda Erbal, who is a PhD student at New York University assaulted and insulted me…She did not touch me as I could have called the police. Everybody supported and calmed down her. I was the only Turk among all those Armenians. Although I had asked many Azerbaijanis and Turks to attend the conference, only a few people came just to sit there for 10-15 minutes…All what I want to say is that our lobby is weak when comparing to the Armenian. I even heard that the Armenians intended to assassinate the active Azerbaijanis and Turks all over the world and they keep an eye on the people who are actively struggle the Armenians in America. When we organized a protest in front of the Armenian consulate, the Armenians took our photos. But these actions do not frighten us. On the contrary, we become more motivated.
– Did the activity of Armenian lobby increase on the eve of the next anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide?
– It increased considerably! Actually, they are active all the time, but their activeness has risen more in recent years. It is correlated to the preparation for 2015. Already in 2012, they started to prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of genocide at a high level. They organize a lot of meetings in the states, submit the Senate appeals regarding the 100th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide. They support of the Armenians, who have been living in America for generations, prepare them to high posts in Senate and federal government. To tell the truth, they are very capable and use every chance, while enjoying the support of Americans. Unfortunately, the majority of the states recognized the Armenian genocide, 4 states recognized the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
– Now let us talk about your activities and plans.
– I plan to continue my activities in America. During these 3 years I have been very active in the Diaspora, but haven’t done a lot. I was a student and I had to graduate from the university. However, I tried to be very active in the Diaspora in America. My future plans include establishing contacts with municipalities, secondary schools, colleges and universities, doing my best to achieve Azerbaijan’s recognition and assisting our diaspora and active youth. I will also take part in forming strong Azerbaijani lobby. We have to try to reach high positions in government, both at state and federal level. I have got lots of plans. I hope they will come true, and then I will give another interview.
– What would you recommend to 1905.az?
– Mr. Babayevv, I would like to express my gratitude instead of recommendation for this website. I am very grateful to you and people involved in this process. We should have created something similar 20 years ago. I wish you success and may God bless you all. We will certainly cooperate. I will use this site, and I strongly believe that it will be very helpful for us, all Azerbaijanis, who live abroad and are actively engaged in Azerbaijani lobby. I would like to make a small request: the website should open in English instead of Azerbaijani. One then can choose one of 12 language options. Of course, you will make the wise decision.
Thank you for the interview.