Center for National and International Studies
“The resolution adopted by the French Senate will negatively affect the peace in the Caucasus and stimulate Russia to incite the conflict…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Babak Hasanov, a veteran and chairperson of the Narimanov Branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), protested in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Hasanov said that his registration as a resident in the district was canceled without any notice. Hasanov added that the order came from a high-ranking official due to his political affiliation, and he will continue protesting in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Another veteran of the second Karabakh War, Suleyman Dadashov, a resident of Karachala village in Salyan, attempted suicide by cutting his throat in front of the Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Persons. Dadashov said that despite his numerous appeals, he was denied to receive a disabled person status.
The lawyer of Rovshan Mammadov, a member of APFP who was arrested during the rally on November 11, said that Mammadov was tortured in the detention center. Lawyer Nemat Karimli met with Mammadov in the detention center, and Mammadov said that he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse during his detention at the police department and was brutally beaten for several hours. Mammadov noted that due to the injuries he received, he has health problems. A complaint was filed with the prosecutor’s office about the fact of torture, and a complaint was filed with the appellate court about the illegal arrest. Mammadov’s family was not allowed to see him in the detention center.
Activist Aziz Mamiyev said that he receives threats of arrest and his friends are worried about him as he publicly expresses his criticism of President Aliyev. Mamiyev’s Facebook post reads: “Close friends tell me that I often mention Ilham Aliyev‘s name in my posts. “We also know that Ilham Aliyev is one of the cruelest dictators in the world, and if you keep talking about him, they will arrest you. We don’t want to lose you.” I really don’t want to let any of my friends down, but I can’t stop posting. Because every day, I lose a friend to the regime. They arrest them one by one. We are desperate. We sit and wait for our turn, wondering when our turn will come. This is not a normal life. Yesterday they arrested Afiyaddin, tomorrow, and they will take all of us. In this country, the arms of all the people with convictions, courage, and the ability to speak up have been put in handcuffs. I demand freedom for all political prisoners!”
The National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) issued a statement regarding the November 11 rally of the PFP. The statement said: “On November 11, 2022, the PFP held another rally in front of the Baku City Executive Power (BCEP) with demands for freedom of assembly, freedom for political prisoners, free elections, the opening of land borders, and radical democratic changes. The appeal to the BCEP to create conditions for the holding of the rally was given an unjustified negative response, and protesters who came in front of the BCEP in order to exercise their constitutional rights were subjected to police violence. The police used violence against the journalists who went to the scene to cover the rally, preventing them from freely performing their professional activities. On January 19, 2019, after the mass rally held by the National Council in Baku, the Azerbaijani authorities virtually completely banned mass rallies in the country. These actions carried out by the PFP are important in terms of attempting to remove this ban. The National Council fully supports the PFP in these rallies and strongly condemns police violence against peaceful protesters and their detention. The National Council requires the government to comply with the country’s Constitution and international obligations, to restore the right of citizens to freely assemble and to create conditions for peaceful rallies and marches. The National Council calls on the people of Azerbaijan to actively fight for freedom of assembly and the rights that have been taken away from them. The National Council calls on the international community to resolutely demand that the Azerbaijani authorities stop trampling on human rights and freedoms and to use effective means to achieve this.”
The Musavat party held a rally in front of the Iranian embassy in Baku against the killing of peaceful demonstrators in this country, the trampling of the national rights of more than 30 million ethnic Azerbaijanis, and the escalation of anti-Azerbaijani policy. Although the police forces surrounded the embassy in the morning, some of the protestors were able to shout “Freedom, justice, national government”, “Baku-Tabriz-Ankara against the others,” and other slogans.
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that his Party supported the Musavat party and condemned the police brutality. Karimli’s Facebook post reads: “I strongly condemn the police intervention in the rally held by the Musavat party in front of the Iranian embassy and the detention of 38 protestors, including the head of Musavat, Arif Hajili. Azerbaijani authorities are so afraid of ensuring the freedom of assembly in the country that they did not even allow a rally in front of the embassy of Iran, which has seriously strained relations with Azerbaijan in recent days. Prohibition of freedom of assembly in Azerbaijan is not only a problem of political parties but also of the people as a whole. It is a universal problem, and we must solve it with the joint efforts of our people.”
Governance and Corruption
French Senate’s resolution against Azerbaijan
On November 14, the French Senate adopted a resolution proposing sanctions against Azerbaijan. 295 out of 296 MPs who participated in the voting supported the document. According to the resolution, Azerbaijan is requested to withdraw from the territory of Armenia and the Lachin corridor. At the same time, Azerbaijan and its partners were asked to respect Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to return all Armenian prisoners of war. “All Armenian prisoners of war must be returned. Measures should be taken to protect the Armenian population and Armenian religious and cultural heritage.” The resolution also includes opening a humanitarian office in Nagorno-Karabakh, recognizing the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and deploying peacekeeping forces of international status should on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The Azerbaijani side strongly condemned the resolution and called it “biased” and “disrespectful to international law”.
The chairperson of PFP Ali Karimli said that the Aliyev government is responsible for the strained relations with France. Karimli wrote on Facebook: “Of course, the resolution of the French Senate is far from objective, is biased towards Azerbaijan, and it was adopted on the basis of Armenia’s false arguments. The adoption of such a one-sided and biased resolution undoubtedly was influenced by the role of the Armenian diaspora living in France and the influence of France’s more friendly attitude towards Armenia. However, despite all this, Ilham Aliyev‘s government is also responsible for the strained relations with France.”
Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity (ADPP) Party, Gubad Ibadoghlu, also condemned the resolution saying that it will harm the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Ibadoghlu wrote: “Although the resolution of the French Senate was expected, this harmful decision is a huge blow to the peace negotiations at the current stage of the settlement of relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia. In fact, with such a resolution, the French Senate is sabotaging the negotiations, showing its biased and one-sided position, activating the forces against peace talks, and strengthening the positions of the war supporters. In short, I consider the Resolution of the French Senate as a position against stability and security in the South Caucasus region, and I strongly condemn it.”
Member of the NCDF Gultakin Hajibeyli blamed former president Aliyev for the short-sighted foreign policy. “The Azerbaijani government, which serves only the interests of the ruling family, its incompetent foreign policy and toothless diplomacy have an exceptional share in the creation of today’s resolution. Bringing France, a supporter of Armenia, to the Minsk group as a co-chair is the result of Heydar Aliyev‘s wrong, short-sighted policy that is against our national interests.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli also said that the resolution would have a negative impact on the perspectives of peace in the South Caucasus. “The biased resolution adopted by the French Senate against Azerbaijan hinders this country from participating as a mediator in the negotiation process. This document negatively affects the achievement of peace in the Caucasus, stimulates the aggressive policy of Armenia, and helps Russia’s policy of inciting the conflict.”
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev said that although the resolution will not have any serious consequences, it is a failure for the foreign policy of the government. “The resolution adopted by the French Senate regarding Azerbaijan is based on the close cooperation of the Azerbaijani authorities with France for many years, which includes the repair of churches and historical objects in France in need of repair at the expense of millions of euros cut from the throats and pockets of Azerbaijani citizens. In return, the highest orders and medals were awarded to Azerbaijani officials, and the members of the ruling family bought buildings worth tens of millions in the most expensive parts of Paris. The resolution is not adopted for the first time. Two years ago, another resolution was adopted with more votes, and it had no consequences, and neither will this one have. However, those who praise the foreign policy of the Azerbaijani government and those who say, “I don’t like their domestic policy, but their foreign policy is superb”, should ask the person who has a perfect foreign policy the reason for the serious tensions with Iran, Russia, and France at the same time.”
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu also criticized the government’s foreign policy, adding that the resolution may influence the decisions of other EU countries. “They have been saying that Ilham Aliyev‘s foreign policy is flawless. Looking at the results of the vote in the French Senate, it is clear that Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy is quite flawed. What was the need for Ilham Aliyev to participate in the summit of such a trivial and insignificant organization as the League of Arab States held in Algeria on November 1? Why was it necessary to speak there and harshly criticize France? At a time when the West’s efforts to reach a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia are seriously increasing, and this process is under its control, such behavior is a blow to the interests of our country. Of course, the resolution adopted by the Senate is not a binding document for the French government, but it can have consequences. One day, the government may decide to refer to this document and take appropriate steps. Such a resolution may also influence other European countries. The family government continues to disgrace us in the world and harm the interests of our country.”
As a response to the resolution adopted by the French Senate, the Milli Majlis, Parliament of Azerbaijan, issued a statement against France. The statement says: “The existing political and economic relations between Azerbaijan and France should be reconsidered. As the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan should raise the issues such as France’s colonial political crimes, crimes against humanity, and war crimes to be discussed at the international organizations. Within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, France’s policy of Islamophobia should be put on the agenda. France’s Turkophobia policy should be put on the agenda of organizations of Turkic states. The Milli Majlis calls on France to respect the borders accepted by the international community.” In the statement of the Milli Majlis, it was further stated that French companies should not be allowed to participate in any project ordered by the Azerbaijani state. “If any assets of French officials in Azerbaijan are discovered, they should be frozen, and the cooperation of French companies with Azerbaijan in the energy sector should be reconsidered.” Member of Milli Majlis Tahir Karimli said that the statement issued by the Milli Majlis against the resolution adopted by the French Senate should be taken seriously. “The French have shed a lot of blood throughout history. I think that France is a real enemy. Therefore, France should be declared an enemy state.”
At the session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), a document was adopted demanding that Russia pay war reparations to Ukraine. The text included “the need for the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury arising from the Russian Federation’s internationally wrongful acts.” Among the South Caucasus countries, while Georgia voted in favor of the resolution, Armenia abstained, and Azerbaijani delegation did not attend the session. Member of the NCDF Tofig Yagublu called it another failure of the Aliyev government in foreign policy. “After this voting, how will Ilham Aliyev blame the world powers for not forcing Armenia to pay compensation to Azerbaijan for the destruction and damage it caused during the 30-year occupation? Today, the resolution on paying reparations to Ukraine for the damage caused by Russia was put to the vote at the UN, and Azerbaijan, together with Burkina-Faso, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Tonga, did not participate in the voting. Is it possible to be an enemy of one’s own people, civilization, justice, and humanity at the same time?”
The first lady and the vice president Mehriban Aliyeva addressed a letter to the Director General of UNESCO to terminate her activities as a goodwill ambassador. In the letter, it was stated that the reason for Aliyeva’s decision is that “the First Vice-President is actively involved in the large-scale restoration in the Karabakh region after the liberation of the Azerbaijani territories from the long-term occupation as a result of the Second Karabakh War, and considering her close involvement, it is impossible for her to fulfill her duties as UNESCO‘s goodwill ambassador.”
November 18, 2022