How celebrities complicate the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
Kim Kardashian is facing backlash for "supporting terrorism" amidst her overt one-sided support with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Kim Kardashian’s Armenian heritage has meant the reality TV star has not shied away from making her feelings known about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, even going so far as pledging a $1 million donation to the Armenia Fund. Ever since the donations went live, the hashtags ‘#KimKardashianFundsTerrorism’ and ‘#KimKardashianSupportsTerrorism’ have flooded Twitter, TRT World writes in the article How celebrities complicate the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
Although the organisation claims to deliver humanitarian aid on the ground, there has been speculation among Azerbaijanis that it provides military aid to carry out offensives against civilians in Azerbaijan. Kardashian's stance on the conflict also faced backlash since she fell silent on the Armenian assault that has affected civilian areas in the non-conflict zone.
When an influential celebrity like Kardashian, who has 67 million followers on Twitter, speaks for one side of a conflict, while ignoring the other, one does wonder whether such global influencers pose a threat to objectivity and truth-telling in precarious situations of war or intense border conflicts.
Speaking to TRT World, John Street, a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia and a researcher on the politics of media and culture, said that "celebrities can take sides" since they are "not journalists who are expected to be balanced and/or impartial". But in view of political communication changing with more political opinions being put forward by those in entertainment, Street said celebrities "need to be careful, for the sort of reasons that you imply above".
"Celebrities are not accountable and they are not required to examine the evidence etc. We should always be wary of them and other influencers who are not bound by processes that help to validate information,” Street adds.
Kim’s campaigns attempt to portray Armenia as the victim of aggression by Azerbaijan, a stance that is more based on emotional bias in light of her Armenian descent. The fundraiser Armenia Fund that she supports, has been met with suspicion based on the coincidence that shortly after the money was raised, Armenia attacked residential areas in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city. The offensive killed at least 13 people, including three children, and wounded 52 more. The attacks on Ganja city have incited fears of a humanitarian disaster after civilian infrastructures were targeted.
Earlier this month, American rapper Cardi B pushed the same narrative on social media and later released an apology, admitting she had not done her research on the region and was wrong in choosing to side solely with Armenia.
The conflict is historically complex, spanning over three decades, both sides facing the repercussions of historical legacies. Civilians on both sides have since been bound up with the consequences, and an open dialogue with the past seems to be missing among celebrities.