Armenian Rights Council of America Asks BBC for Objective Coverage on Karabakh


WATERTOWN – The accompanying letter is addressed to the BBC’s American offices concerning BBC coverage of the current attacks on the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh (Artsakh).

Dear sirs,

When the war erupted in and around Nagorno Karabakh on September 27, 2020, we turned to the BBC as one of the traditionally most reliable and objective news sources in the world. However, to our dismay, your reporting from the war zone up to this point does not live up to your reputation of objectivity.

We do not want to speculate as to why this has happened, but can only comment on the results.

To our knowledge, your reporter filed only once from the Armenian side in Stepanakert while he was taking refuge in a building, huddled with civilians running away from indiscriminate Azerbaijani bombing. Most of the remainder of your reporting emanated from Azerbaijan or Tbilisi, Georgia, with a distinct pro-Azerbaijani bent. It was particularly heartrending to watch Orla Guerrin’s coverage with a somber tone describing Azerbaijani women lamenting the loss of loved ones and blaming the Armenian side for the bombing.

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Your impartiality is compromised when you fail to give equal time to the other side of the story, let alone your avoidance of presenting the geopolitical perspective. This was an attack on a democratically run society initiated by a dictatorial Azerbaijani state supported and perhaps even instigated by expansionist Turkey. Overwhelming numbers of Azerbaijani forces, fortified with Turkish advisors and advanced military hardware and backed by Syrian mercenaries, are attempting to wipe out a small number of descendants of genocide survivors, to bring to a gruesome culmination the genocidal crime which Turkey had initiated 105 years ago.

It is simplistic to insist on the definition of Karabakh as an Azerbaijani territory, when this is at the least a debatable issue. History and demographics support the Armenian claims for self-determination, and Armenians acted legally according to the constitution of the Soviet Union in their declaration of independence of Mountainous Karabakh. It is the responsibility of serious news media to present the full context of the current situation, if only in summary form, instead of rehashing partisan cliches.

For Azerbaijan, this war is about a small territory, which has a symbolic value for Azerbaijanis, who have never been more than a minority immigrating only in recent centuries to its mountains. It had an Armenian majority population, as witnessed by censuses from the end of the 19th century, and never has been formally part of the country of Azerbaijan.

For the Armenian side, this war is a life-or-death struggle to fend off a “final solution” which the Turks and Azerbaijanis have vowed to execute. A true peace settlement acknowledging the right of the Armenians of Karabakh to control their own lives and society would also lead to the return of historically non-Armenian populated buffer zones to Azerbaijan and an end to the use of this conflict for extrinsic motivations.

What we need to see is the fair and balance reporting which would be most fitting for your reputation and tradition of excellence.

Your viewers throughout the world deserve a more honest presentation.


Kevork Marashlian


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