On the night of 1-2 April 2016, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated into regional warfare as offensive military operations progressed across the “line of contact”. Though commonly referred as a “frozen conflict”, which has never been such for communities in their everyday lives, it is now enough exacerbated for the exploitation by industrial military complex and media gaze for blood.
Numerous soldiers, civilians, including children were killed and wounded in the brutal clashes, reminding us that behind “the line of contact” there are people and communities and their tragic lived experiences of war.
War is the performance of hegemonic masculinities and reproduction of patriarchy and male-centric state’s monopoly over use of violence. War is a nationalist state’s legitimization of capitalist industrial military complex to continue its trade at the cost of people’s lives, which are not to be rescued and to be failed again by paternalist peacekeeping forces.
This can be stopped through the radical voice and direct action of intersectional anti-militarist feminist and anti-oppression movements, our collective capacity for critical thinking and public solidarity with the people affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
War profits elites and corporations
The global military expenditure is over $1.7 trillion per year. This would be enough to eradicate poverty, ensure universal access to education and healthcare for all people on this planet.
Only in 2015 the military expenditure of Azerbaijan has constituted $3 billion and $447m in Armenia. If this money were used not for committing violence but rather for peace and reconciliation processes, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh would have had the possibility for peaceful resolution without any human losses.
This recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict fueled local and regional extreme nationalism, hate speech and strengthened narrow binary/military gender roles, rigid notions of nation and ideological exploitation of history. Such mentality shift only more suffocates and alienates people of our region from each other and distracts citizens from our harsh socioeconomic structurally violent realities, which were delivered by austerity and corruption-driven governments in relatively “peacetime”.
War legitimizes authoritarianism
The Nagorno-Karabakh military conflict allows authoritarian regimes to instrumentalize stronger propaganda mechanisms in order to trap people in the hands of corrupt government authorities, which on other occasions, use the army against peaceful protesters and civic activists, turning them into political prisoners.
In light of the emergency situation in Azerbaijan and Armenia, nationalist elites and state authorities are automatically legitimized in their own actions, thereby turning themselves into national heroes and criminalizing, censoring alternative thinkers as “traitors” and “enemies”.
Meanwhile, young soldiers from extremely poor, disenfranchised and marginalized families are dying, their dead bodies are becoming mere tools under the man-eating hands of dictatorships and corporations.
War strengthens nationalism
Nationalism is a state ideological apparatus used in the reproduction process of dictatorships and the global capitalist market economy. Nationalism is the best tool to unite people against the “enemy” within a context of internal economic crises, disunity, proliferating opposition and alternative thinking.
Nationalism is extremely misogynist, presupposing conquest and aggression as meaningful, while protecting violent masculinity as the highest value, and rendering femininity as passive, submissive and irrational and useful only for the birth of more soldiers.
Nationalism and patriarchy walk hand in hand ensuring women’s total absence in decision-making bodies. If women do participate, they are only able to do so as tools for reproducing military-nationalistic and patriarchal discourses and interests.
War renders propaganda
We are given instructed selective media sources, which are full of state propaganda. Our right to alternative information is completely violated and the conditional “truth” is forced, while alternative sources that go against the pre-determined state agenda are silenced.
Mass media also constructs myths of war, upholding fundamentalist and religious claims that war and violence deployed are necessary and even encouraged phenomena.
Like every armed conflict, the Nagorno-Karabakh war has its reasons and causes. However, these causes can be found neither in artificially constructed images of the “enemy” produced and reproduced by power regimes, regional conservative right wing and religious movements, nor solely in differences of single ethnic, national and religious identities, as dominant (very often western, Russian and Turkish) media outlets tend like to portray.
War continues with monopolized peace processes
Negotiation processes over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are practically impotent in men’s hands. In these processes peace is understood as the absence of war and enforcement of state security achieved through militarization.
This means that not only war but also peace is viewed through the prism of patriarchal and militaristic systems. Therefore, long-lasting peace and conflict resolution can be realistic only through the total dismantling of these systems.
We believe that this patriarchal act of war can be stopped by the collective action and demand for institutional demilitarization and end of state oppression across the region, rise of our grassroots movements for justice and peace through the non-violence civil disobedience and public critical consciousness informed by intersectional solidarity and radical feminist thought with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan at the center of our hearts and agenda.
Anonymous anti-militarist feminists from Caucasus and Central Asia for the peaceful resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict