Both sides call out for peace, as wax figure debate continues
By | Rachel Brooks
April 13, 2021
Recently submitted to the record, this Azerbaijani grave was overturned in Karabakh. Politicization of human tragedies on both sides of the conflict has led to vicious debate, but it has also sparked empathetic responses from people on both sides, as people of both sides cry out for peace.
On April 12, Thomas de Waal drew the western public’s attention to the museum of helmets and wax figures of fallen Armenian soldiers in Azerbaijan. As news circulated regarding the helmets, and the wax figures of killed Armenian soldiers, people on both sides of the conflict were outraged with the politicization of the conflict. On April 13, another discussion took place. This time, looking beyond the politics of the never-ending bloodshed, Armenians and Azerbaijanis shared their tears for fallen sons.
“It’s beyond me, no words…this grotesque mocking of death and suffering. Some of those helmets belonged to teenagers. The thousands of Azeri families who have lost young men in the war, how would they possibly react to these caricature wax figures?” wrote an Armenian Twitter user “Arnold.”
He then noted that he was not attempting to make an equivalency or stir the ongoing “tit-for-tat” of this conversation. Rather, he noted that, in this instance, Armenians had been targeted for humiliation. This commentary on the controversial wax museum drew an empathetic response from the Azerbaijani community. One Azerbaijani Twitter member “Divar” recalled a relative who had lost both her son and her 28-year-old brother at the front line.
“Divar” marveled at the lady’s calm at their funeral. Divar stated that despite the solidarity circulated on Armenian and Azerbaijani Twitter in recent weeks over a shared understanding of being caught up in a highly politicized conflict, there was no demographic that understood the shared pain of the two communities as did those who had lost their loved ones.
“We do not understand each other as well as people who have lost relatives. For them, the homeland is the people they love. I think these people will bring peace to this region,” said Divar.
“As someone who lost a relative in this war, when I look at these helmets, I remember the image of him smiling with a helmet. You may not believe my sincerity. But I cried when I saw these helmets. As an Azerbaijani, I am sorry for that.”
This drew solidarity from “Arnold”.
” I’m sorry for your loss. I can imagine the feeling,” he said.
Another Azerbaijani Twitter user “Ziya” rebuked the idea of having such a museum.
“This is a disgusting& illogical behavior… You may like him or not but Ataturk once famously told to the parents of killed ANZAC soldiers: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace,” wrote “Ziya.”
“There is no difference between the Johnnies & Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in our country. You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons lost their lives on this land & they have become our sons as well.”
The conflict continues to be politicized in heated debates and western partiality. Yet, beneath the surface, Azerbaijanis and Armenians alike express an understanding of shared regional trauma. Chronic politicization continues to crush those tender shoots of reconciliation. Yet, now and then, some have managed to poke through and show that there are people on both sides who cry out for peace with their neighbors.