Serj Tankian calls Imagine Dragons “not good human beings” following controversial show

Meta Description: Serj Tankian criticizes Imagine Dragons for performing in Azerbaijan, urging them to reconsider due to the country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis and dictatorial regime.

System of a Down leader Serj Tankian has publicly criticized Imagine Dragons for performing a show in Azerbaijan, despite his previous open letter urging them not to play there. In August last year, Tankian penned the letter, encouraging the American group to reconsider their plans due to the “humanitarian catastrophe” occurring under Azerbaijan’s “petro-oligarchic dictatorial regime.”

Tankian revealed that there “was no response” to his letter, which forced him to publicize it. He speculated that Imagine Dragons might have felt a legal obligation to perform or simply didn’t care. “My whole life I have been an advocate for genocide recognition and have always said there has to be a price to pay for genocidal regimes or deniers,” Tankian stated.

Despite Tankian’s plea, Imagine Dragons went ahead with their show last September. In a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Tankian said, “I don’t understand that type of thinking.” While he isn’t “a judge” for where bands should play, he believes there must be a line drawn concerning countries that “commit ethnic cleansing,” referring to Azerbaijan’s actions against the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, who were deprived of food and medicine.

Tankian expressed strong feelings about artists who choose to perform under such circumstances: “As an artist, if I found that out, there is no 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. Forget their art, they’re not good human beings, as far as I’m concerned.”

Tankian and System of a Down have long spoken out against Azerbaijan. In 2020, they released ‘Protect the Land’ and ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’ to raise awareness of the war being waged on their cultural homelands of Artsakh and Armenia.

In 2022, the band condemned Azerbaijan’s “evil aggression” against Armenia, noting that Western press had been slow to react because “the enemy is not Russian.” They criticized the media’s both-sides approach, clarifying that it was a deadly attack on the sovereign state of Armenia.

System of a Down urged the public to help spread the word about Azerbaijan’s aggression, supported by Turkey, which committed genocide against Armenians in the past. “As a band, we have always done our best to entertain and inform,” they stated, expressing deep concern for the safety of their friends and family in Armenia.

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