Center for National and International Studies
“Azerbaijani government should prevent further escalation of the tensions in the region and work closely with the West to continue peace negotiations…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Gulnara Rahimova was sentenced to community service as a result of the court order. Rahimova denied the accusations and said that she was doing her job documenting the illegal activities of the police. Rahimova’s Facebook post: “Today, I was summoned to the Probation Office at 18:00 so the court verdict against me would be executed. After giving me a lot of information about my rights and duties, they told me that I must do community service for 4 hours from 14:00 to 18:00 on Saturdays. For example, I have to sweep the streets. They gave me a surveillance device to wear when doing the work. They also informed me that if I do not fulfill the punishment imposed on me, if I refuse to do social work, the type of punishment I am entitled to will be more severe and will be presented to the court, and I will be arrested. As if it wasn’t enough that they sentenced me to 460 hours of community service, I also have to carry a special surveillance device. I was also informed that if the device breaks, I will pay for it. The price of the device is more than 400 manats. I used to work and support my children before these charges. If the government slanders me, then it should take care of my children.”
The condition of Zamin Salayev, a member of the APFP, detained in the Baku Pretrial Detention Center, has deteriorated, said lawyer Nemet Karimli, who visited him on Monday. Salayev has been on a hunger strike for more than 28 days. “Alizamin Salayev is in a serious condition. He has lost 20 kilograms, has difficulty moving, and complains about severe heart issues. Despite this, he is not given medical assistance, and they do not transfer him to the medical facility and ignore his request to call a doctor,” the lawyer said. The lawyer also added that Salayev‘s right to meet with his relatives was illegally restricted.
Activists and feminists organized the “March 8- We Want to Live!” rally in Fountain Square in central Baku. The activists said that the purpose of the march was to draw attention to gender-based violence and femicide. Although the Baku City Executive Authority did not grant the activists’ request to hold a rally, the participants managed to chant their slogans.
General Movlam Shikhaliyev, who was the head of the Investigative Department of the National Security Service, said in a court hearing that chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli’s brother-in-law Elnur Seyidov was arrested on the orders of Ilham Aliyev. Shikhaliyev noted in his testimony in court: “The arrest of Ali Karimli‘s brother-in-law was carried out after discussion with the president. The money sent from the USA to the opposition of Azerbaijan was deposited at the Yasamal branch of Technikabank. Under the leadership of the president, this issue was investigated, and materials were given to the investigation.” Ali Karimli commented on the testimony denying any allegations regarding grants from foreign governments. Karimli: “This confession proves that Ilham Aliyev personally leads the repression in the country, and he also gives the instructions for political arrests. In my opinion, with this confession, the former head of the department is sending a message to Ilham Aliyev that he can talk more. He wants Ilham Aliyev to know about this statement. He said in his statement: “I also ask the prosecutor’s office to bring this matter to the attention of the leadership.” By saying this, Movlam Shikhaliyev openly slandered the opposition in order to soften the attitude of the regime towards himself. There is no mention of “foreign financial support” either in Elnur Seyidov’s criminal case or in the charges brought against him, or in the court verdict issued against him. It would not be possible. I have never received any grant or money from any foreign organization or person. If there were such a fact, the authorities would not miss the opportunity to expose the people around me and myself that “foreign circles” supposedly support us. It is necessary to know that in countries like Azerbaijan, one cannot be involved in some illegal business and be in opposition to the government. What enables us still do our job is our respect for the laws. The biggest difference is that we live by the principle of fairness. The regime is repressive and afraid of open competition. But fear is useless.”
Governance and Corruption
Lately, the tensions in the Karabakh region have been rising. Armenians living in the Karabakh region held a rally in front of the headquarters of Russian peacekeepers in Khojaly. They complained about the activities of the peacekeepers and argued that the peacekeepers demanded a bribe for the cargo passing through the Lachin road. Images of Armenians in Karabakh preparing for battle and digging various military trenches for this purpose have been spread on social networks. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense stated that the Russian peacekeepers were involved in transporting weapons from Armenia to Karabakh and warned them to take necessary measures. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan issued a statement that Azerbaijan is determined to take all necessary steps. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Azerbaijani army opened fire on a car containing Armenian law enforcement officers in Karabakh. It was noted that three people were killed, and two people were injured.
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli shared his opinion on the incident, saying that the Azerbaijani government should prevent further escalation of the tensions and work closely with the West to continue peace negotiations. Gahramanli’s Facebook post: “Azerbaijan should present the steps it will take regarding Karabakh to the international community in a way that will prevent Russia’s attempts to increase military tension in the region undermining the peace process. In no case should these steps be allowed to be presented as discrimination against the Armenian population in Karabakh. Azerbaijan has to make sure that the steps it will take in the direction of ensuring its national interests and territorial integrity do not cause serious discontent at the international level. Therefore, the peace initiatives of the West should be actively supported, and Russia’s military presence in the region, which poses the biggest threat to stability and reintegration, should be opposed, and the course of integration with the West should be chosen in foreign policy.”
March 10, 2023