Center for National and International Studies
“Not only the opposition in Azerbaijan but also those who oppose the Azerbaijani government around the world risk losing their livelihoods…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The US State Department and the Council of Europe’s co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan called on the authorities to release Saleh Rustamli immediately. On Saturday, a group of APFP activists held a rally in the city center demanding the release of Saleh Rustamli. Police violently destroyed the rally. Nineteen protesters (13 of them are members of the PPFA) and human rights activists, including lawyers Zafar Ahmadov and Zaur Akbar, were detained.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed concern on Twitter about the deteriorating condition of Saleh Rustamli. He called on the Azerbaijani authorities to release political prisoner Saleh Rustamli, who has been on hunger strike for 35 days, on humanitarian grounds so that he can receive adequate medical care.
Member of APFP, Tofig Yagublu, wrote that the fact that the US State Department demanded the release of Saleh Rustamli immediately after the Democracy Summit increased my optimism and he strongly believes that more positive outcomes will come as a result of the summit.
Moreover, Tofig Yagublu wrote that despite his continuous calls Neurosurgery Clinic failed to provide him with the results of his computed tomography scan tests that he took after being seriously injured during the rally on December 1. Yagublu wrote: As you probably know, the law enforcement agencies, which are supposed to protect my rights as a citizen, have been systematically violating my rights over the years. The health care system has already joined them. On September 27, I felt the signs of covid-19 and called the 814 call center. They said they would send an ambulance, but it didn’t come. One day later, I called again and expressed my dissatisfaction with their service. They said there was a technical error, and we will send a physician. They never sent anyone. I have attached the screenshots of those calls here. You know how seriously I was injured as a result of police brutality during the December 1 rally. That night an ambulance took me to the Neurosurgery Clinic. There I underwent a computed tomography scan. Although more than ten days have passed and I have made inquiries several times, I could not get a written answer and the result of that examination. I have talked to them again today, and they said that they had submitted the results to the prosecutor’s office. The result of the test is on the clinic’s computer, and they could share it with me if they wanted.”
On Human Rights Day, activist Nigar Hezi wrote a FB post criticizing the Azerbaijani government’s treatment of opposition and activists. Her post is as follows: There is no question of human rights in our country. It is enough to look at the photos of Tofig Yagublu on December 1 to see the situation of human rights. By order of Ilham Aliyev, Tofig Yagublu was abducted from the 39th police station, and the bandits who tortured him have not yet been found and brought to justice. The Sabail District Prosecutor’s Office has not yet opened a criminal case against the bandits. Saleh Rustamli is still on hunger strike for 35 days waiting for his release. Happy Human Rights Day!”
On December 10, the Baku Court of Appeals heard complaints from the lawyer Elchin Sadigov about the administrative arrest of Ilham Huseyn, a member of the Presidium of the Popular Front Party, and Rustam Ismayilbeyli, a young activist (R. Ismayilbeyli did not take part in the rally). Both complaints were rejected, and the decisions of the Sabail district court were upheld.
Nearly 50 people were detained during the rally of December 1 which was held in protest against the unlawful arrest of Saleh Rustamli. Five of them were sentenced to administrative detention under Article 211.1 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Several activists and oppostion polticians were brutally beaten by the police during the rally. The lawyer of the activists said that they would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Governance, corruption, transparency
Exiled journalist Ganimat Zahid released new information about deputy president Karam Hasanov‘s fortune-teller who is under house arrest and her recently arrested fiancé. Zahid argued that what the official accounts say- that the fortune teller defrauded Karam Hasanov‘s sister and took money from her- is far from the truth. According to Zahid, Karam Hasanov gave the money to the fortune-teller himself for her help in “arranging” a marriage of Karam Hasanov‘s niece with Heydar Aliyev, president Aliyev’s son. While the FB community was taken aback by the involvement of senior government officials in witchcraft, activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reacted with sarcasm, saying that instead of spending millions in witchcraft, next time Hasanov should ask State Patrol Service for its assistance in fixation of relationships.
Professor Altay Goyushov, reacting to the corruption scandal at International Boxing Association, wrote that boxing remains at risk of being removed from the 2028 LA Olympic Games. According to Goyushov, one of the reasons is the corruption scandal that involves a $ 10 million bribe given to the World Boxing Federation by the Azerbaijani government. Goyushov added that what is even more surprising is that that the Azerbaijani authorities managed to fire employees who disagreed with taking bribes from their jobs at the International Boxing Association. Goyushov concluded that “not only the opposition in Azerbaijan but also those who oppose the Azerbaijani government around the world risk losing their livelihoods.”
A new draft law on Media has been prepared. The law was discussed at a meeting of the parliamentary commission and is expected to be discussed in the first reading at the plenary session of the parliament on December 14. According to the head of the ADW Party, Gubad Ibadoghlu, adopting the new amendments to the current law on media poses great risks. Ibadoghlu said that the proposed amendments provide a legal basis for ensuring the control of government agencies over online media. Moreover, the new law considers licensing online platforms and multiplex operators, audiovisual media entities, broadcasting service providers, and internet television. Calling it a backward step, Ibadoglu added that all this is aimed at controlling online media and against the development of the media. “I think that journalists, bloggers, leaders of public organizations, and political parties should comment on this issue and oppose the adoption of such a radical law. We, the ADR Party, call on the parliament to postpone the discussion of this law, to reconsider the licensing and other issues in the new draft law,” and to improve the draft,” said Ibadoghlu. Journalist Seymur Hezi argued that the new law on the media would lead to new cases at the European Court of Human Rights against Azerbaijan, new protests in the country, and more criticism abroad. Hezi added that “the government will not achieve its goal, but it will be under attack, and the society will become more radical polarized.”
The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the arrest of human rights activist Elchin Mammadov. The Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Hasan Ahmadov, considered the appeal of Elchin Mammadov, who has served one-third of his imprisonment. On October 17, 2020, the Sumgayit City Court sentenced Elchin Mammadov, head of the Sumgayit Youth Legal Awareness NGO and editor of the “For the Rise” website, to four years in prison on charges of “theft” and “illegal possession of ammunition and weapons.” The human rights activist was arrested in March 2020. Elchin Mammadov links the criminal case against him to his human rights activities. Amnesty International, PEN, FIACAT, and other international organizations have condemned his arrest. Local human rights activists have recognized him as a political prisoner.
Post War Situation. Problems of veterans and families of the martyrs
The ceasefire was violated again in the direction of Gegharkunik-Kalbajar on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. The shooting lasted for several hours. The Azerbaijani side has accused Armenia of violating the ceasefire, while the Armenian side called the shooting a provocation of Azerbaijan. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that one serviceman was killed, and eight were wounded.
Meydan TV reports that on December 9, two people were killed by a landmine in the village of Dashalti in Shusha. The information was provided by the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to the Ministry, the employees of the companies engaged in restoration and construction works – resident of Ismayilli region, Gandiyev Vusal Firuddin oghlu (29) and resident of Gobustan region, Khanatov Orkhan Norim oghlu (22) died as a result of a mine explosion buried by Armenian military units. The prosecutor’s office is investigating the incident. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, seven servicemen and 29 civilians have been killed as a result of landmines in the liberated territories since November 10, 2020. It was noted that 109 servicemen and 44 civilians received various injuries.
December 14, 2021