May 4, 2016


System of a Down's Serj Tankian Calls For Solidarity in 'Artsakh'

System of a Down have always been an extremely political band—even the most superficial reading of their popular 2001 album Toxicity reveals a narrative about the Armenian Genocide, a mass tragedy oft overlooked in Western history. We can thank frontman Serj Tankian for bringing these stories to the mainstream, educating while entertaining.

Today he's shared a political folk song, "Artsakh," calling for Armenian solidarity in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. According to Rolling Stone, he wrote the song in April after a four-day war broke out over the land. Listen above.

Tankian shared the following statement:

"These people have lived on those lands for thousands of years. They have struggle but also great beauty written on their foreheads. The whimsical appropriation of land by an empire (Stalin) placed them under Azerbaijan. They have since gained their independence and have lived a prosperous existence for the last 20 or so years. I do not believe in wars and ultimately borders but I deeply believe in self-determination and life without oppression. Therefore it is time for the world to recognize them as the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)."

He continues:

"It's a crazy provocation. It's a land that these people have lived on from the beginning of time, from time immemorial, with children springing from the rivers and generations coming from their mountains. There is a national liberation struggle embedded within their character, their public mask, if you will. It goes on through trying to create peace. We will ultimately win with culture and all this beautiful stuff."

"Artsakh" lyrics, translated:

We've always lived on these lands,
Reaped and harvested these fields,
Generations sprung from your rivers,
Children born from your mountains,

The public mask of tradition,
The struggle for liberation or death,
The enemy's gaze at your terrain,
Our smiles at your bosom,
At your bottomless will.

We're going to sing with our fists
With the tricolor flag of justice,
Humanitarian love of peace
With the holy blessing of a child's face,
We are going to prevail with culture
We are going to prevail with culture
We are going to prevail by being Armenian.