Center for National and International Studies
“Our people should know that only their own peaceful and resolute struggle can put an end to the total suppression of human rights by the authorities...”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
On September 30, 2022, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) organized a rally in front of the Milli Majlis to protest the new reactionary draft law on political parties. APFP believes that this new draft law is calculated to eliminate the real opposition in the country completely, the possibilities of normal political activity in general, and outlaw the APFP. The opening of the country’s land borders, the release of political prisoners, free elections, and radical political reforms were among the demands of protestors. In the morning of the day of the rally (it was scheduled at 4:00 p.m.), the police started operations to arrest the organizers and their associates who might participate in the action. A few hours before the scheduled time of the rally, dozens of APFP functionaries and activists, including Nurettin Mammadli, Vahid Maharramli, Sagif Gurbanov, as well as Tofig Yagublu, were detained. According to the latest updated list, 177 people were detained before and during the rally. Despite police intervention, hundreds of people were able to hold the rally in front of the Milli Majlis for up to 1 hour and voice their demands. According to the independent media representatives, the police used excessive force against the demonstrators. The National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) strongly condemned police brutality and called on the government to respect the constitution and the freedom of assembly. NCDF issued a statement calling on the international community “not to be indifferent to the brutal violation of fundamental human rights by the Azerbaijani authorities, and to comply with the international obligations undertaken by the Azerbaijani authorities through effective means of pressure.” The NCDF addressed the public to be more politically active and ready for the mass, peaceful demonstrations, especially in the light of the current serious global changes. “Our people should know that only their own peaceful and resolute struggle can put an end to the total suppression of human rights by the authorities,” the statement continued.
Human Rights Activist Anar Mammadli said that “the violence in yesterday’s rally of the APFP showed the true attitude of the authorities towards political parties.” Mammadli’s Facebook post reads: “The brutality shown by the police against the members of the APFP, Musavat Party, and other protesters in yesterday’s protest shows the intention of the authorities regarding the new law on political parties: they want to have such political parties in the country that do not have the opportunity to assemble, associate and use the freedom of expression freely. This behavior of the government, which does not recognize citizens’ freedom of free assembly, is the occupation of political space and the continuation of violent political methods against citizens. With such violent behavior, the Azerbaijani society cannot develop, nor can any of the country’s fateful problems be solved.”
According to Azadliq newspapers, those who were detained during the rally were released. There are currently 99 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, according to the Institute of Peace and Democracy.
On Nizami (Torgovi) street of Baku, a young man who earned money by taking pictures with children dressed in popular cartoon character costumes was taken to the police station for “engaging in illegal business activities.” The man was charged with disobeying the police and fined 200 manats.
A veteran of the 44-day war Javid Sarvar oghlu Majidov, committed suicide by setting himself on fire in the garden of his house. The reason why Majidov decided to take his life is unknown. He is the 45th veteran who committed suicide since the war in 2020.
Governance and Corruption
President Ilham Aliyev signed an order to declare 2023 as the “Year of Heydar Aliyev”. May 10, 2023 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev, former president and father of the current president. Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli reacted to the president’s order by saying that Azerbaijanis would never accept the person as a leader who seized power without being elected by the people. Karimli wrote: “Calling Heydar Aliyev the founder of independent Azerbaijan is the greatest lie of the century. Heydar Aliyev has nothing to do not only with the establishment of the Azerbaijani state but also with the second restoration of our state independence. If Ilham Aliyev were not Heydar Aliyev‘s son, he would never have been the head of state and the owner of as much wealth as he is now. Therefore, it is understandable that Ilham Aliyev is extremely grateful to his father. However, there should be a limit to everything, including praise, gratitude, and exaggeration. Azerbaijanis will never accept the person as the founder of Azerbaijan who seized power without being elected by the people using the June 1993 uprising. Azerbaijanis will never see a person as the founder of our country who turned election fraud and police violence into state policy and established family rule instead of a legal state. If Heydar Aliyev had established a state in the 31st year of our state’s independence, we would not have had to hold a rally demanding freedom for political prisoners, free elections, and fundamental democratic changes.”
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoglu also objected to the announcement, accusing the Aliyev family of founding nepotism and corruption. Ibadoghlu wrote: “Declaring 2023 “Year of Heydar Aliyev” means that corruption, nepotism, and regionalism will continue in the next year, and there will be no freedom, justice, and prosperity. In other words, nothing will change. Therefore, this government needs to be changed.”
According to the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers dated September 30, 2022, 22 scientific institutions will operate in the new structure of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS). The number of employees of ANAS is set at 3510. In the past, the number of ANAS employees was confirmed to be 11,200. Experts argue that some of the employees will work in the institutes under the Ministry of Science and Education, and the rest of them will not be able to work either at ANAS or at the Ministry. Several thousands of former employees of ANAS are expected to be unemployed.
A protest was held in front of the Iranian Embassy in Baku. The participants of the demonstrations expressed their solidarity with the protestors in Iran. They chanted “Freedom to South Azerbaijan!”, “Death to Mullah’s regime!”, “Death to Iran!”, “Death to the dictator!”, “Mullah’s regime, stop the massacre!”. Police did not intervene, and the protestors submitted their appeal to the Embassy.
The video footage depicting the Azerbaijani soldiers executing Armenian prisoners of war during the recent battles has been spread widely and caused outrage. The video came at a time of heightened tension between the two countries on September 13, which left more than 300 dead on both sides. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan has issued a statement saying that it is investigating the war crimes committed by members of the Azerbaijani Army. Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu commented on the video saying that “training of the Azerbaijan Army should be strengthened, and the servicemen should be given definitive instructions on how to deal with prisoners of war.
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that “the allegations are made in order to present the Azerbaijani army as cruel and merciless and to accuse it of war crimes.” Gahramanli wrote: “It is not even clear whether the video is authentic or not. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense should clarify this issue, and if it is not real, there should be an official statement. If it is real, it should be investigated, and it should be determined who took and distributed the video. In particular, it is necessary to seriously investigate the possibility that these images were taken by special services of foreign countries. It is obvious that these videos are now only could be of use for Russia and Armenians.”
October 4, 2022