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100th Anniversary, Armenian Genocide, Armenian Music, Centennial, Commemoration, Recognition, System of a down, Turkey

Genocide and Kim Kardashian: The Bloody History Behind System of a Down’s Tour

By | January 8, 2015

Between their spasmodic rhythms and jagged melodies, System of a Down have always been committed to a sobering cause: raising recognition for the Armenian genocide of 1915. The group’s self-titled debut LP contained a song called “P.L.U.C.K.,” in which frontman Serj Tankian sang “A whole race, genocide/Taken away all of our pride,” and over the years the band has held several one-off “Souls” concerts to help raise awareness of the tragedy.

Now the group, whose members are all children of survivors, is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the genocide – in which Ottoman Turks began arresting and executing some 1.5 million Armenians, something that Turkey and several countries still refuse to recognize officially – with an international tour named “Wake Up the Souls.” This will end on April 23rd, the day before Armenia commemorates the anniversary, with the group’s very first performance in the country of their ancestors. The band plans on livestreaming the concert so people all over the world can watch.

System of a Down have also set up an interactive “heat map” on their website, allowing fans to learn about how different parts of the world have reacted to the genocide, including which countries have officially recognized it. Elsewhere, they host a call to action motivating fans to ask the Turkish president and parliament for recognition.

“Part of it is bringing attention to the fact that genocides are still happening, whether you use the word ‘genocide,’ ‘holocaust’ or ‘humanitarian catastrophe,'” Tankian says. “None of that is changing. We want to be part of that change. We want the recognition of the first genocide of the 20th century to be a renewal of confidence that humanity can stop killing itself.” He chuckles. “I say that, laughing, because obviously it’s ridiculous.”

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