Serj Tankian Rebukes Imagine Dragons For Ignoring Plea To Rethink Upcoming Baku Concert Amidst ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ Concerns

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source: Rolling Stone

The ongoing geopolitical landscape has once again intersected with the world of music as Serj Tankian, the frontman of System Of A Down, has appealed to popular band Imagine Dragons to reconsider their upcoming concert in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Tankian, who has been notably vocal about issues concerning human rights, seeks to raise awareness about the situation in the region and its potential ramifications.


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A post shared by Serj Tankian (@serjtankian)

Earlier this year, Tankian criticised various artists for aiding in what he described as Azerbaijan’s attempt to “whitewash” its image on the global stage by performing in the country.

He has extended this concern to Imagine Dragons’ scheduled performance in Baku, urging them to withdraw from the event. Tankian, who turned 56 on Monday (August 21) has also shared his efforts to communicate with Imagine Dragons, along with his initial letter to them outlining his reasons for this request.

source: Concord

The heart of Tankian’s argument centres around what he perceives as the band’s “disregard” for a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Azerbaijan. He references a recent AP news report that features Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, asserting that Azerbaijan is on the verge of perpetrating genocide against ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ocampo’s report compellingly claims that a “reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed” exists.

In a bid to engage Imagine Dragons, Tankian allegedly penned a letter to the band. This missive underscores their history as “active proponents of various human rights issues and social causes.”


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A post shared by Serj Tankian (@serjtankian)

In this context, Tankian beseeches them to reconsider the Azerbaijan concert, citing his apprehensions about the event’s potential role in enhancing the image of the country’s dictatorial regime. He asserts that a performance in Azerbaijan could inadvertently “whitewash” the regime’s image globally.


Tankian’s outreach was an attempt to shed light on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and its consequences, as he believes that the band might not be fully aware of the region’s situation. He notes that despite his earnest intent, his effort remained unanswered. He also expresses disappointment in the lack of response, while also highlighting the growing humanitarian crisis and its worsening impact, including reported cases of starvation.

Serj Tankian’s concerns extend beyond Imagine Dragons. As aforementioned, he has raised awareness about other artists, including Rihanna, performing in the country, claiming that such events contribute to normalising and whitewashing the actions of the regime led by Aliyev.


As part of his effort, Tankian shared a petition that urges Imagine Dragons to reconsider their performance. The petition reflects his aspiration for the band to be informed about the crisis and to make a decision that aligns with the gravity of the situation. Tankian’s letter to Imagine Dragons concludes with an expression of hope to meet them one day and an appreciation for their time and consideration.

Music and geopolitics intertwine once again as artists grapple with the ethical implications of their performances in regions marred by conflict and human rights issues.

System Of A Down, a band of Armenian descent, has previously condemned Azerbaijan’s actions, labelling them as “evil aggression.” The boundaries between music and social responsibility continue to blur, and Tankian’s efforts underscore the complexities artists face when their performances become entwined with larger political narratives.

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