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Center for National and International Studies
The dominating topic of social network was commemoration of the 30 anniversary of the “ Black January”- the entrance of the Soviet troops on the 20th January 1990, the arrest and torture of the activist Alizamin Salayev, election campaign, social economic issues in the country, state of human rights and freedoms.
Isa Gambar of Musavat party posted on his timeline: “ 30 years ago on the night of 20th January the bolshevik empire and its agents in the republic has committed unforgivable bloody crime. Hundreds of people were killed or injured. It was both the crime and a treason. But most importantly it was the act of the great heroism of our people on the way to the country’s independence. This heroism on the way of destroying the empire and achievement of independence continued after this event too. Both in Baku and in the regions all over the country the public meetings, rallies, vigils would continue non- stop. Thanks to the activities of the popular movement leaders the extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet was convocated on the 21st January and the number of historic decisions were adopted. On the 22nd of January the mourning and public funerals procedure, which was distinguished not only by the scale but also the high level of organization, attracted 1 million people. By burying the victims of the 20 January at the highest point of Upper Park area,which was the place of burial of victims of the massacre of 1918 but paved with asphalt later by bolsheviks and who put there statue of the person, who had nothing to do with Azerbaijan, they made that place again — the sacred place of pilgrimage of our people. All these events including those which I did not mention from the 20th January to the 2 nd of March and especially the all national strike lasting 40 days proved that our people will never be a part of Russian/Soviet empire. God Bless the souls of heroic victims!God bless our Azerbaijan!”
He also reminds of the extra-ordinary session of the Supreme Soviet on the 21st of January and its importance. He states, that this session took place only thanks to the national intelligentsiya- such as poet Bakhtiyar Vahabzade and the writer Ismayil Shikhli, as well as popular movement, activities if its leaders in the regions, and principled position of all who struggled with the regime those days. Otherwise 1) it would not even start, 2) there would not be quorum 3) it would not successfully completed. And because of that this session and its decisions became of historical significance. The attack of the Soviet troops on Baku was qualified as the crime of Moscow, it was demanded that responsible to be punished and the state of emergency cancelled. Otherwise, Azerbaijan would announce its leaving the Soviet Union.” He also posts the archival video with the speeches, including his own.
Shahveled Cobanoglu comments on his timeline:” Is not it surprising, that some of those who went to mourn the victims of the 20th January are indifferent to the fact, that fighting for years defending Azerbaijan from occupants Afghan Mukhtarli is in prison? Why the protesters were crushed by tanks of occupants ,but these days are crushed by our own police force? While the 20th January is over, the other Januaries are causing pain in us… by simple questions”
Hezi bey, the journalist, posts in big letters: “ Where were you on the 20th January 1990?”
Tofig Yagublu describes attempt of the opposition to pay honors to the victims: “ Of course, one cannot expect the same attitude to the “ Black January” from the people who were on the forefront that day and those, who traded leather clothes in Moscow ( hint on the president). That’s why yesterday the president Aliyev blocked way to the Alley of Martyrs to thousands of members of the National Council, who desired to mourn the victims and kept us for two hours by the school number 20. After that, only a group of 15 people was allowed to go by the police, although the whole road was empty. “ Gozel Bayramli of the Popular Front Party also comments on this event; “ Aliyev sent the police to stop opposition from commemorating. Police itself confessed it on video, that we were ordered not to let more than group of 15 people.
The journalist Nurlan Libre writes: “ Although 30 years passed since that night, there are still some unanswered questions. Such as the claim by Etibar Mammadov, which he made in his interview to the Turan IA, that the troops were brought by the request of Artur Rasi-zade.The ex-premier has not yet responded to this accusation”.
Mehriban Rahimli remembers that tragic day, when she was a teenager, and how her parents, the doctors went to the hospital, where they were mobilized to treat injured citizens during Soviet invasion on the 20th January. She expresses her sense of pain, but also now, after many years- a sense of pride for the heroic actions of our people”.
Big space is devoted to the issue of the event in Salyan region. The police officer Hemze Ezizov, whose photo is shared in the “shaming and naming” campaign, apparently attempted to rape ( or raped ) 21 year girl, who was defended by the activist Alizamin Salayev. As a result, she was convicted for 7 years in prison for allegedly stabbing the police captain, while Alizamin was imprisoned for 30 days and given serious tortures. People widely share the detailed description of tortures given to the activist in the 8th police department of Baku city. Many activists came up in defence of Alizamin, such as Jamil Hasanli, who commented: “ I have said many times, that our law enforcement bodies have long dropped out of the Constitutional oversight. For discrediting the actions of the policeman, they arrested the activist, gave him vicious tortures, recorded it on video . It seems that the while the previous minister of interior Ramil Usubov turned the department of the fight with the organized crime into the highly professional “laboratory of torture”, the new one Vilayet Eyvazov extended it to the whole police system.The arbitrariness reached such a point that the police not only commits tortures, but even does not hesitate to record it on video, so to report to someone. And that’s all because their protector of is the criminal regime and personally president Aliyev”
Ilkin Rustamzade of NIDA comments in his posting with hashtag SUSMA ( do not keep silence) related to this event by quoting the activist: “… The boss said, put his head in the toilet” And this is not from some scary movie , it is happening in the 21st century Azerbaijan.. For days, he was not allowed to meet even with the family members, he was given tortures and has many traces of injuries. Do not stay silent! “
The topic of Karabagh is more profound these days. The FB users share the information by Modern.az that Armenians are selling gold from deposits in the occupied region Kelbajar to Russia with 80 mln dollars annual income.
The human rights defender Elchin Mammadzade complains about moral corruption of society:” It seems the virus of cheating and fraud is spread all over the country. People, as soon as they have a chance do not hesitate to commit fraud even towards their friends and relatives”.
The issue of elections is gaining more space in the discussions. Altay Geyushov comments: “ I have told many times, that there is no University in the country. Students were made coming to Azay Guliyev’s meeting with “ voters” and they obediently went there.In none university in Europe it is possible to make students to attend any event by force- because they are mature people, not children.During election campaign in the US Obama wanted to arrange the meeting in one of the Universities, but the leadership refused saying that students were busy studying. “ The “Year of Volunteers” ( he refers to the president’s statement who called 2020 a year of volunteers) — what a great title!” Further he concludes about the nature of the upcoming election: “ 1. Looks like this will be the elections with the highest turnout since the one in 2005. 2. If the government does not manipulate in the end, from the point of view of the results, it might be most satisfactory elections even since 1990s. 3. If the turnout will be high, and the government will manipulate in the end, the political struggle in the country may transfer to totally different and scary level”.
Isa Gambar posts on the timeline announcement that he is running as a candidate in the district 19, that he will keep his voters updated on his timeline and his election campaign slogans. One- common of the Musavat Party: “Change your future by voting”, the other — his own: “I am with you!”
Zya Guliyev and Zaur Akber, civil activists, running as candidates in the upcoming elections met with the OSCE/ODIHR observers. Arif Hacili, leader of Musavat party invited the ruling party representative to the TV debate. Blogger Mehman Huseynov posted his slogan and appeal to his voters to vote on his timeline, explaining that the break was caused by his illness, and while he does not promise them anything, he has a courage to express their words and needs.
Members of organizations and parties, who participate in the 9th February parliamentary elections promote either their own or their colleagues biographies, platforms on their timelines, including with fundraising purposes. Rasul Jafarov posted the photo and bio of Erkin Gadirli who is running in the 16th electoral district ( Yasamal) from REAL party, appealing to the FB users to support this campaign financially. Similarly, the electoral block Herekat ( the Movement) posted their group photo and the platform. REAL also posted the group photo of its candidates with the party’s electoral platform. Earlier Musavat party posted its electoral platform.
The changes in neighboring Russia is also a subject of discussions. Natig Jafarli of REAL writes: “ The are interesting changes going in Russia, the culprit of the events on the 20th January, where they proposed the substantial amendments to the Constitution. Putin revealed his vision of the future of Russia in his recent speech. Of course, the main purpose of these amendments is to keep power in the hands of Putin and his team, but it is not as simple.By sharing powers, he also wants to share responsibility.” He then asserts, that due to the path dependency it is not possible to have in countries like Russia, other type of system than a pyramid. So even if the elements of self-governance are strengthened, according to the proposed changes the structure of pyramide is changing, specifically, who is at the top of it. Before it was a strong president, and weak premier ,now it will be reversed. But the problem is the newly introduced institute of the State Council, which will most probably be the key in decision making. These changes will affect everything in the region, including Azerbaijan. However, unlike in Russia, where the political leaders opened their programme, there is a totally “grey zone” in regards vision and plans in our country, and none of these questions are answered by our ruling elite, concludes Jafarli.
He also shares his concerns regarding campaign prices on public TV ( ITV). As this is financed by the taxes of the Azerbaijan citizens he considers, people have a right to get more information about such an important event as election. The existence of such TV became possible as a result of negotiations with the Council of Europe with the purpose to provide public’s access to the alternative information. Although there were some positive changes recently, so they managed to attract some audience, this ITV cannot fulfill its main function- did not become public. He attracts the attention to the fact, that while the government thinks that people are listening to their propaganda, dominating this ITV, in fact, it distances them from it, and puts under the influence of the TVs in Russia and Turkey, which is quite dangerous for the statehood.
The issue of the literary competition devoted to the memory of the killed Iranian general Souleymani which was announced by the Iranian Embassy in Baku is shared with the indignant and anxious comments. Elmira Muradaliyeva, professor of the University and a PFA activist shared this information with the comment: “… similar to the contest in the memory of Primakov ( the late Russian official, who was instrumental in the 20th January events- L.Al) conducted by the Russian embassy in Baku…” The comment under the posting by Vahid Gazi, an activist in exile, says: “That’s how their propaganda works”.
The FB users share and discuss the pressing social issues in the country. Ali Kerimli of Popular Front Party posts the video about work in hard conditions at the AZERSU company, including low quality service, primitive technical equipment, workers standing up to their necks in the water in the cold winter weather and being paid only 300-400 manats ( 150-200 dollars) per month.