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The Unheard Voices: Media Evolution and Azerbaijani Narrative in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

The 1990s: A One-Sided Narrative

In the early 1990s, the world witnessed the violent and complex conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, predominantly over the former Nagorno-Karabakh oblast. Despite the significance and the devastating human impact of the conflict, coverage in Western media was sparse and often one-sided. The powerful Armenian diaspora effectively mobilized its resources to influence the narrative, ensuring that the voice heard globally was predominantly pro-Armenia. This media portrayal largely overlooked the full scope of the conflict, including the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the extensive ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis.

The Power of Lobby: Shaping Perceptions

The Armenian lobby, well-organized and influential, particularly in countries like the United States and France, played a pivotal role in shaping the media and political narrative. Their efforts resulted in a skewed portrayal of the conflict, with little to no attention given to the Azerbaijani perspective or the severe humanitarian crisis resulting from the displacement of nearly a million Azerbaijanis.

A Shift in the 21st Century: The Rise of Social Media

Fast forward to 2020, when the long-standing conflict reignited. This time, however, the battleground wasn’t just physical; it extended into the digital world of social media. Azerbaijanis, previously silenced or overshadowed, found a new avenue to voice their narrative and experiences. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tik-Tok and Instagram became instrumental in disseminating real-time updates, personal stories, and counterarguments to the prevailing pro-Armenia narrative.

Social Media: Democratizing the Narrative

As a result of this digital engagement, the world began to hear more about the origins of the conflict and the significant fact that Armenia occupied around 20% of Azerbaijani territory, leading to the ethnic cleansing of almost a million Azerbaijanis. The use of hashtags, online campaigns, and digital storytelling provided a more nuanced and balanced view of the conflict. It allowed Azerbaijani activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens to share their side of the story, highlighting the human rights abuses and the suffering endured during the years of occupation.

Conclusion: A More Balanced Future?

The evolution of media, particularly the rise of social media, has dramatically changed how conflicts are reported and understood. In the case of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, the increased digital footprint of Azerbaijanis has begun to balance the scales of narrative power. While challenges remain, and biases still exist, the emergence of a more multi-dimensional, inclusive narrative promises a future where all voices can be heard and understood in the complex tapestry of international conflicts. As the world continues to evolve digitally, it becomes increasingly important for media consumers to seek a diverse range of sources to truly understand the multifaceted nature of such enduring conflicts.

Ziya Ibrahim