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‘Let’s Break Through Silence:’ Open Letter to Azerbaijani Civil Society

– I do not want to sit and wait to see where the elites next meet and what kind of repetitive statements they make, I don't want to see what government controlled media write or show, how Armenian and Azerbaijani mothers bury their sons, how tyrants are celebrated because they are “strong” and how victims are dishonored because “the weak” in barbaric societies are always treated badly. I do not want to see how a new wave of violence and hatred breaks out between our societies. I've watched that happening many times before, and looking at these indifferent societies – where assuming such an inhuman appearance is the norm – has become unbearable. I am perplexed  – and I can't forgive myself – that we have given up the opportunity to talk about peace to groups which have deprived the societies of both countries of the right to communicate and to understand each other. 

Day by day our silence opens the way for the victorious march of hatred. Do people who could try to outline the prospect of living together in peace in the region and to offer solutions really not exist? Isn't there anyone who could break the spiral of silence and misunderstanding and break down stereotypes?

Peace is not at all about containment and ceasefires – it is the ability to talk, to listen to and to hear each other. How can we bring ourselves to the point where have to obey the corrupt and misanthropic regimes and not to speak out against their crimes against humanity. How can we not rebel against this violence and try to prevent further bloodshed? 

Oftentimes, our internal propaganda machine, the perception of the enemy's image, the outbreak of an infectious and ubiquitous patriotic pathos hampers our ability to think freely and stay true to the logic of global humanity, to realize who actually benefits from war and why it does not stop. Our silence and inaction makes us part of the crime.

Silence is filled with gunshots that take the lives of people, covering the area with images of rites of violence. Those who had been meeting over the years and trying at least to communicate with each other have also been silenced or isolated. Why have we distanced ourselves from the human form, from the opportunity to speak, to listen and to build peace?

I appeal to the sound forces living in Azerbaijan which, I am convinced, still exist, are the carriers of the culture of life and have not lost the hope of being a factor. We can prevent violence only by joint efforts. No one can stop the bloodshed that has taken the lives of many people and will continue to do so if we do not stop this killer machine. Let's try to speak again, let's try to break through the spiral of silence and give our region the possibility of peaceful coexistence. 

I have not lost faith in mankind and humanity, yet. Violence can be prevented only by appreciating life, which, in turn, can be possible only in case of peace.

Zaruhi Hovhannisyan,  winner of the Young Women's Peace Award in the Caucasus