System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian has once again hit back at Imagine Dragons for their controversial gig in Azerbaijan.

Last month, Tankian made headlines when he criticised Imagine Dragons for their decision to go ahead with their controversial gigs in Israel and Azerbaijan, stating that he has “zero respect for those guys”.

The dispute came over a show that Dan Reynolds and co played in Azerbeijan’s capital city, Baku, which some argued could be perceived as being an endorsement of the country’s authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev.

Tankian had sent the group a letter last summer urging them to pull out of the Baku Olympic Stadium show. In the letter, he stated that proceeding with the gig “would help whitewash the dictatorial regime’s image”.

The likes of Brian Eno, Thurston Moore and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters also took the time to share an open letter last August asking Imagine Dragons to back out from the gigs. “Performing in Baku under these circumstances, regardless of intent, can only help the government of Azerbaijan cover up its crimes,” a section of it read.

Earlier this week, Reynolds opened up about the band’s decision to proceed with the gigs, telling Rolling Stone: “I don’t believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders and their governments. I think that’s a really slippery slope. 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?”

He also addressed Tankian’s comments, sharing: “I think I just said it. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m never going to deprive our fans of playing for them.”

Last night (July 4) the ‘Chop Suey!’ singer took to his official social media accounts to hit back at Reynolds’ statement. He restated Reynolds’ rhetorical question and wrote: “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

He continued: “Azerbaijan’s dictatorship with popular support was already into a 9 month starvation blockade of Nagorno-Karabagh qualified as Genocide by former @icc prosecutor @luismorenoocampo 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? 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.”



Previously criticising the band for performing in Azerbaijan, Tankian told Metal Hammer: “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.

“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.”

Elsewhere, the metal icon recently spoke to NME and shared his thoughts on the current situation in Palestine, as well as the movement to boycott companies with ties to Israel.

“It’s important for the youth to raise their voice, because we are not living in a just world,” he said. “I think in some cases, pure activism is taken hostage by certain fringe elements of society, including in the US – certain anti-Semites who have gotten into that world. However, I think the majority of the activists and their intentions are pure, and I think what they’re doing is important.

He continued: “In terms of the Hamas invasion of Israel, I want to say that was obviously a terrorist act and they are war criminals and deserve to be punished. But, the Netanyahu government’s response is also – as we can see with the number of civilians that have died – a war crime.”

In other news, Tankian recently expanded on the meaning behind the lyrics “sacred silence and sleep” from System Of A Down’s 2001 classic ‘Toxicity’.

The post System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian hits back at Imagine Dragons’ Azerbaijan gig defence: “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide” appeared first on NME.