Serj Tankian Takes Another Shot At Imagine Dragons

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System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian recently doubled down on his criticism of Imagine Dragons in a new social media post.

It has been noted that last September, Imagine Dragons performed in Baku, Azerbaijan, despite calls from Tankian and other musicians to cancel the concert. Tankian’s objections had stemmed from Azerbaijan’s 2020 invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic-Armenian region of Azerbaijan also known as Artsakh. The Armenian-American artist considered performing in the country as an endorsement of its authoritarian government, which has carried out human rights abuses.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds defended the concerts. “I think that’s a really slippery slope,” he said. “I think the second you start to do that, there’s corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, and where do you draw the line?”

Serj Tankian responds

Tankian answered Reynolds on social media Thursday. “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide,” he wrote, citing two examples of Azerbaijan’s alleged human rights violations.

“Azerbaijan’s dictatorship with popular support was already into a nine-month starvation blockade of Nagorno-Karabagh qualified as genocide by former [International Criminal Court] prosecutor [Luis Moreno Ocampo] when they decided to play Baku. Would they play in Nazi Germany? Why don’t they want to play in Russia? Because it’s not popular?”

“They support Ukraine but not Armenians of Artsakh?” he continued. “The only ‘slippery slope’ is the farce moral equivalency at the heart of this hypocritical attitude. I have nothing against this guy nor his band. I just hate artists being taken advantage of to whitewash genocidal dictatorships.”

Following the band’s performances in Israel and Azerbaijan, Serj Tankian went on to criticise the members.

“Look, I’m not a judge for people to tell bands where to play, or where not to play… I get that they’re doing it for money, that they’re artists, that they’re entertaining, all of that,” he told Metal Hammer.

“But when there’s a government that’s about to commit ethnic cleansing, when Azerbaijan was starving the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and not allowing any food or medicine in… you know, as an artist, if I found that out, there is no fucking way I could have gone and played that show. But some artists do. And I don’t know what to say about those artists. I don’t respect them as human beings. Fuck their art, they’re not good human beings, as far as I’m concerned.”

He continued: “If you are that blind to justice that you will go play a show in a country that’s starving another country, illegally, according to the International Court of Justice, according to what Amnesty International is saying, what Human Rights Watch is saying… If you still go and play that country, I don’t know what to say about you as a fucking human being. I don’t even care about your music. If you’re a bad human being, I don’t give a fuck. So that’s where I’m at with that. I have zero respect for those guys.”

Back in 2020, System of a Down, whose members are all Armenian-American, regrouped to record two new songs to raise funds for Armenians affected by the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. “It’s a really horrible humanitarian catastrophe that needs to be addressed,” Tankian told at the time.