Serj Tankian A CIVIC ACTIVIST
Almost a year has passed since Tankian’s first ever concert in Yerevan. After his second open-air free concert in 2011, a forum on civic activism took place on August 15, where he once again emphasized the fact of being a proud activist. The forum was initiated by Kanachastan non-profit organization to stimulate public discussion. Tankian’s two visits to Armenia in 2010 and 2011 triggered major public interest in civic activism.
An Armenian-American rock star, singer, song-writer and the lead singer of the Grammy-Award winning “System of a Down’’, Serj Tankian is a role model of civic activism. He deals with public issues both via his lyrics and personal activism. As a musician he uses his stage not only to present his art but also to raise urgent issues. During the forum the rock star spoke about civic activism and current issues worldwide.
In the 21st century, the future of our society will depend on informed, responsible and active citizens. Civic activism is meant to make a difference in promoting the quality of life and justice for all. Civic activists take steps to address and act towards resolving moral, human rights and global issues. As such, the government is not the only entity responsible for the citizen’s welfare or for setting the public agenda. Serj Tankian is one of those, who enjoys people’s trust and is able to shape public opinion.
Tankian has been supporting the efforts of condemning and preventing genocides around the world, including the Armenian Genocide. He has also contributed to Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Defense of Animal Rights, as well as to the activities implemented by Teghut Forest Defense Team. Tankian talks about injustice, social and economic inequality: “I do not focus on one issue, although recognition of Genocide is the issue that I have spent most of my ‘activist-time’ on. I think it is not just about raising awareness any more, it is about action, about taking it to the next level. Raising awareness is great, but you have to look further”, says Tankian.
To address issues infringing social justice Serj Tankian established the Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization along with the co-founder and Grammy-Award winning American guitarist Tom Morello. Axis of Justice aims at bringing together musicians, political organizations and fans to inform and find solutions for issues of peace, human rights and economic justice not only in the U.S. but worldwide.
“A lot of the things that I support are things that I firmly believe in. But if I find something that I think to be injustice and is to be addressed and is to be heard than I will take the opportunity to address and talk about it’’, says Tankian.
The famous rock star says that non-profit non-governmental organizations encourage him to foster civic activism. According to Tankian, in the U.S. the NGOs cover a lot of things that government should be doing. “Private industry gets to make the profits, and NGOs get to take care of people’’. Within the framework of the forum Serj Tankian also encouraged the activities of Armenian NGOs, including Kanachastan.
Tankian also spoke about the current situation in Armenia “We have to be very smart about how we deal with our country’s problems. We are a 20 year old country. In retrospect, if you look at the whole situation, I think we are doing pretty well. There is a lot of potential and energy here. We have to be patient and we have to be strong to get out of there and make our voices heard. We should not be afraid”, said Tankian.
Tankian propagates individual activism by encouraging people to speak out. “You have to say what is on your mind as an artist. Artists have a capability to connect with the things that are going on. The part of our job is to represent the things as they are. It is our responsibility to deal with justice in our lives and to live life in the way we should. There are risks, and I have got people that I have turned off because of my political statements, especially in the U.S.”
Tankian believes that all injustice is one. He sees all human rights, environmental, and activism as one, since there is only one planet, everything is interconnected. The famous song-writer inspires his fans and everyone who is not indifferent to the current situation that dominates in the world and calls on them not to be indifferent. Tankian believes that people’s faces say more than their words, but his message on having courage to speak out and act always stay powerful. He is the one, who lets the music speak on behalf of people.