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Center for National and International Studies

 

FB Digest@VoxPOPULI

06.04.2020

The FB users continues to discuss the government reaction to the pandemics, the social situation during the isolation and government package of aid to the population and business, repressions, the mechanism of SMS permissions, the quarantine fines, the amnesty of the prisoners, among which is the infamous criminal Akif Chovdarov, arrest of the opposition activists and statement of the National Council against repressions.

Gubad Ibadoglu focuses on social consequences of the quarantine. He stresses that the fines vary from 100 manat to 5,000 and that all prohibitions and fines will lead to the increase in corruption. He also reminds that after completion of the collection of the “virus taxes”, from the 5 april – the collection of the fines will start. That’s to say, based on the degree of the 17 March 2020. Individuals who violated the quarantine regime will be fined from 100 – 200, while the officials- from 1,500 to 5,000 – or an administrative arrest for a month. Apparently, 25% from that will be contributed to the “ stimulating fund”, which will lead to the greater cases of fines. He also predicts the increasing number of coronavirus prisoners, as on the 17th March there were also made amendments to the Criminal Code, according to which the person who violated the regime and infected others will be fined from 2.500-5,00 manats, or imprisoned for 2 years, or if that results in death of infected person – from 3-5 years of imprisonment. He comments that we are lucky that due to the membership in Council of Europe has eliminated the death penalty. “Why these measures- could not we achieve the same result through education?” he asks. He also urges the government to render immediate aid to the business and vulnerable groups because the economy has also been “infected and most of it is in the hospitals, or coma, and some of these ecomomic sectors will never get out of that coma”.

He presents the total sum of fines -1 mln 867 thousands 800 manat -during the quarantine. He reports that because of violation of the rules of quarantine there were opened 3 criminal cases with 5 people arrested, and 75 given administrative detention terms, 18 767 were fined, 475 were given warning. He informs that just in two last days the ADR movement members’ various punishments in the police stations of Sumgayit and Gubadli is another proof that the government besides making money is using the pandemics to crash human rights, freedoms  and democracy. He also posts the statement of the ADR movement in connection with the arrests and persecution of the activists, which informs that after the arrests of Tofig Yagublu and a few PFP activists, the turn came to the ADR members.  He lists the members against which the police was applying pressure in the form of “prophylactic conversations “ at the police stations, fines, or by phone calls, as well as arrests and detentions.

Gubad Ibadoglu criticises the government that they did not include concessions for the consumer credits in its plan of measures to protect economy from the consequences of the pandemics. He also stresses that 600 thousand of entrepreneurs will be left beyond the aid package of the government.

Seymur Hezi comments on the absence of NGOs and organized aid to population in the times of pandemics. He notes, that millions were wasted on so called NGOs support foundation and other. But now during the crisis there is not a single specialized NGO, which would help the state to protect the vulnerable. He also says that the era of big relationship will start. The humanism will increase its importance. Both the politics and state will acquire its new meaning. There will be new research and publications produced, the new ( in fact, the old one) problems of philosoply will actualize. Through coronavirus the nature will try to re-explore and re-invent itself.

He comments that Russia announced a one plane of the artificial oxygen devices aid for America. But the US announced that they paid for this “ aid”. He does not believe that Azerbaijan’s plane with masks for Hungary was also for free, as “ dictators were always in need of money”.

Ulvi Hasanli comments on the fines, which are going to be counterproductive. He stresses that the virus spreads quicker than collection of fines. Payment of 100-200 manats is not possible for the people, who have empty pockets. But this virus will reach everyone regardless of their income, as there is not effective health system, and while half of the population is staying at home, the other one is still going to work. One cannot make people stay at home by fines- instead the government should render immediate aid package to all needed.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev notes with irony that Hungary, where suffering deficit of masks Azerbaijan sent 1000 masks as an aid has sent 6 Wizzair planes of masks to China. “ I wonder, while expropriating masks, which are brought to the country by local entrepreneurs, and sending free masks abroad, how many masks will be the government bring into the country ? Have the enterprises which were planned to start its work in March has actually start their production?” He writes, that before they said that people without masks will be fined. But now they say – they will not. He also details numerous problems with the code for the SMS which was announced to be used for the permission to go out, which he find totally meaningless. He continues on the issue of masks, saying that they walked in 60-70 pharmacies and there were in none of them. He comments that recently they said, that masks do not protect from virus and then asks- why police is fining people for not wearing them? So the new young superman minister said that new enterprises will start producing masks in March and in one week they will sature the market. No news about that, instead citizens sewing masks ( 40-50) per day at their homes and simply give others for free, while private business is producing 200-300 masks per day. He demands that the government should report immediately :

He concludes that there are many questions, and the journalists should be persistent asking them ,while the government should be giving daily briefings and reports about the situation. He concludes with irony: “better to send 10,000 masks to Botswana, Haiti, Syria etc. On top of each add 1-2 mln dollars, which you have collected from the population for the Coronavirus Foundation, so they will see the humanism of our country. We are a tolerant nation, we will tolerate this too. In the end if there are some masks left- give it to the Azerbaijani pharmacies too”

Rabiyya Mammadova attracts attention to the women, cleaning the streets, She stresses that they belong to the vulnerable groups, but there was not any change in their working schedule made, or their salaries were increased.

Ordukhan Babirov comments on the dilemma of Azerbaijani people:” either stay home and die, or go out and be fined. Why should people believe this bandit regime and stay home?” He also reminds the anti-people’s policy of the government and justifies the fact that people do not follow the rules of quarantine by the lack of trust to the government. He also attracts attention to the continuing construction works on the roof of the Sadarak market and asks why the prohibition of going out is not extended to them and by whose instruction do they work?

Ilkin Rustamzade writes on his timeline: “ The quarantine, millions of people facing the threat of starvation.. On top of it – hundreds of thousands listening to Ata Abdullayev, Bayram Nurlu and Tolik….10 thousands masks sent to Hungary… I am trying not to think, but cannot help it.  I have not been thinking so much even in the punishment cell 1,4×2,4 sqm. Looks like I am getting mad. Ata Abdullayev, Karl!!! The agent, stool pigeon, informer…”

Nigar Hezi expresses her worry regarding her father in prison. “ Our family members have not been yet in such situation before. One – is in the grave, the other one- in prison, the third one – in the army, and the last one is at home alone. One does not know whom to worry about most. I am most worrying about my father. On the one hand, they say – stay home, but on the other – they change the prison staff daily! Each of them might be a potential carrier of virus, and one can only imagine of its spread in the prison cells.” She also reports that her father cannot sleep because of the strong pain in his arm, and demands his immediate release.

Altay Geyushov comments on 10 thousands free masks for Hungary sent by the government: “ While one cannot find a mask in its own country, they send masks to Hungary… No gas supply for the own citizens, but is sending to Georgia.. This is a philosophy of his father Heydar Aliyev – exploit your own people, but  suck up the other. It was the same in the Soviet Union… Our people were poisoned on the cotton fields in the country, but were buying the cotton clothes from Georgia”. He also reports that the news continue to arrive from Hungary. The arriving Azerbaijani citizens from Hungary were told to be held in the quarantine for 14 days, but it is already  17 day and they are still there. It looks like this government got a perfect excuse to put the whole population in prison.” , concludes Geyushov.

Ali Kerimli explains why Azerbaijan sent 10, 000 masks for free to Hungary. First he shows the contradiction in this action, because Azerbaijan asked the EU for such aid, but at the same time helps Hungary who is the EU member. One of the reasons for such love, is that so far it was Hungary who was blocking the adoption of the decision on European Magnitsky act.

He stresses that the government is taking an advantage of the situation by applying repressions against those, who violate the quarantine, instead of paying them compensation, so they would stay at home.

He also protests putting Agil Humbatov, the father of three underage children, who appealed on video to give child benefits and with criticism of the government ,  in the psychiatric clinic. He stresses that this is disgusting method of the Soviet KGB is coming back. And the authorities started applying it to the person not publicly knows, so there would not be a mass protest against it. What is his madness? The fact that he could not stand that his children are starving and asked for the child benefits, criticizing Ilham Aliyev? Three days ago he was highjacked and put in the psychiatric hospital, but the doctors diagnosis was that he was healthy, so they released him after two days. Upon his release he broadcasted live on FB about his imprisonment, bad conditions in the clinic and other , which was viewed by 2 thousand FB users. And the authorities the next day with the help of the fake testifier again shamelessly announced him a psychiatric patient. Ali Kerimli calls it a new stage of repressions, when it was enough to have a fake testifier to arrest people for the long term while now they are brought to help to put people in the psychiatric hospitals. He urges people to protest this anti-humanist and repressive action of the government at least via social networks. He also brings quotations from the international media reflecting the Agil Humbatov case, such Radio Free Europe.

Khadija Ismayil states, that without declaring a state of emergency limitations on freedoms and introduction of the SMS permission is anti-Constitutional. If it is declared however the population will be delivered from some material obligations. Because the government prioritize its pockets over the laws it does not declare the state of emergency. She appeals to the lawyers to represent herself and a few worrying citizens and asks them to express their opinion about the prospects for the legal case on this matter.

Nigar Hezi informs that so far, the family members could not get back either mobile phone of her father, or his car. All the attempts to contact the investigator Ramil Aliyev had failed.

Natig Jafarli of REAL speculates about the future and the lessons which the world will learn from this pandemic. He writes, they may leave aside all the conflicts and wars and unite for the sake of common survival, or – the opposite to close the borders and resolve the issues individually and enter the period of victory of powerful, suppression of the weak and violation of rights. During the last 100 years there were a few wonderful initiatives, among them the Concept of the Universal Human Rights, importance of the free and competition markets, the rule of law, expansion of democracy, but it is obvious that these concepts are under the threat. There is a crisis of leadership in the West, about reasons of which he has been writing  for years. The last 50 years, because of the attractiveness of the business initiatives the best minds went to the business sector, while being public in politics- no private life, a “fetish of political correctness” etc. made people in politics less sincere. Low salaries with high responsibility made this sector un-attractive for the young graduates of the Ivy league Universities, as a result the leadership in politics was occupied either by the shallow personalities or from intelligence structures whose priorities are different. On the other hand, for many years the political leadership in Europe was in the hands of technocrats, whose political responsibility is quite narrow. As a result the world governance moved out of the majority dictatorship in a good sense of that word…In any case, it is time to think about new philosophy and leadership concept. In renewed wave of democracy does not come, the world for a long time ahead under the excuse of security will start to wrap up the main achievements of the last century.

Gullu Jangirova, an activist in exile, comments on epidemics in Azerbaijan. Coronavirus is a friends of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. They use pandemics to put opposition to prisons and psychiatric clinics and put people into forceful isolation. The isolation should be voluntary not forceful. They should not intimidate, but educate people, because voluntary isolation goes via education.

Ilkin Rustamzade comments with passion: “ The government of Democratic Republic of Congo -one of the poorest countries in the world of 85 mln population and 36 bln GDP – has made communal services free for two months for the entire population. What about us?? Us? Come one, go and listen to Bayram Nurlu, Tolik , Ata Abdulalyev… Do not get involved in politics!”

Gozel Bayramli of PFP  informs that opposition activist Tezekhan Mirelemli has been taken from his home by the police and the reasons are unknown.

Rabiyya Mammadova comments on the aid package of the  government.  “The authorities are still working on the social aid package, while daily breadwinners are staying at home. Let them not to hurry. There are two more weeks until the 21st Aprel, let them finish, we are going to starve to death anyway”

Ordukhan Babirov from exile uses the hashtag  #stayhomedie  and ironically comments” just by begging those, who oppressed you, you will be in the worst condition. Go on begging Ilham, who took the last bread away from you!”

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev appeals to the president and vice-president of the country to help by arranging flights to the numerous citizens of the country to come back from abroad. He also notes, that 78 more people infected by COVID 19 were registered, while before maximum per day there were only 64 people. The statistics also shows that there are more people who were infected within the country, that those who were infected abroad and then returned. This shows high risk of getting infected- because of many untested, or simply out of negligence irresponsibly treating the threat of pandemics and openly waling out in the streets and markets. He appeals to all people not to put themselves and their relatives under threat of infection.

Elesger Ahmedoglu, the legal defender, comments on the SMS permissions. He considers that by this decision already limiting the basic human rights the authorities are depriving of this opportunity those citizens who do not have mobile phones.He points to the fact, while every one has a duty to follow the rules and laws, nobody is obliged to follow the monopolist interests and get the mobile phone at the expanse of its basic needs. So the government should provide all citizens with the phones to expect the fulfilling the orders.

Seymur Hezi, the journalist and PFP activist, comments, that the government should give the masks to the police, so they instead of fining people who are without masks they should distribute masks to the people. In general, the situation creates an opportunity of different relations between the police and people. He thinks the ministry of interior should take an advantage of the situation and get closer to the people. People should not run away from police, while police should give them protection masks. He also suggests, that the authorities might not be able to pay each person social aid, but at least they should distribute this aid according to the number of family members – from 500 to 1,000 manats and it first of all important as first medical help. Especially to the unemployed, self-employed, or working without contracts people.

Elshan Hasanov, the human rights defender and activist, comments on the reaction of the government to the crisis situations. He writes, that as always in such situation it is lost and adopts unlawful, wrong decisions.

For years it used oil revenues to support the law enforcement bodies, instead of directing it to the education, health, cultures, SMEs.

So nowadays we are witnessing the same ignorance based decisions. It is obvious that during coronavirus epidemics the main role should belong to the Ministry of Health, but in our case – this is a Ministry of Interior.

Illegal prohibitions, total monitoring, arrests of opposition activists and human rights defenders – this is not the fight with epidemics, but true repressions.

What does arrest of Tofig Yagublu, Elchin Mammadli, journalist Tezakhan Miralamli detention, Agil Humbetov’s putting in psychiatric clinic- have to do with the fight with the epidemics? While sitting in plenty in their villas they appeal “ Stay home” “ Lets fight the virus together” but leaving the rest with the dilemma- even if surviving the virus you will starve to death or will be arrested. In the meantime, the epidemy is growing and the number of infected is increasing. That’s why you should rely on yourselves! Let God be on your side.

Hikmet Hajizade democracy an dopposition acrtivist shares news about the TV confrnece on the 6th April between the OPEC states and OPEC plus states, and that president Trump has already had telephone conversations with Putin and Mohammad Bin Salman. Reuters reports that Moscow and Saudis agreed to reduce the production by 10-15 mln barrels per day an dit may increase the price of oil.

Gubad Ibadoglu analyses the transfers of state oil fund to the state budget and reports that 31, 66 percent of this transfer is formed at the expanse of sales of SOFAZ assets, which he considers  a  worrying sign. The 32, 5 % of budget’s income  in the first quarter of 2020 is formed by non-oil sector, while 59, 3% by transfer from SOFAZ. The 48 percent of the budget expenditures are spent on the social programs. Due to the sale of SOFAZ assets the budget has a surplus of near 2, 5 bln manats. “ If you were the finance minister- how would you spend this money?- asks he the followers in conclusion.

He also informs that at last there is a regional statistics of the spread of coronavirus in the country. Among the regions the leading region is Lenkoran, but the leader – is Baku with 40, 2% ( 149 cases). 26% are those who got infected abroad. He suggests the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies to create an interactive map of epidemics.

The journalist Nurlan Libre reports detention of 16 year female activist Zehra Galandarova in the Yasamal Police department after she shared on FB the caricature of the late president Heydar Aliyev ( the father of the current president) with devil like moustache and horns. Herself was reporting from the police department that they were forcing her to write a remorse letter, and when she refused were rude to her. She eventually was forced to write a letter of apology and was left free.

Gubad Ibadoglu replies to those who blame them to always trying to get something from the government. He stresses that budget is formed on the basis of the taxes of people, who earn their income by hard work and this budget is not something the government inherited from their parents. Similarly, transfer from SOFAZ is rent which the state received from the sale of the resources, which also belong to the state, so it is natural to expect the state to support people in the times of crisis.

Ali Kerimli of PFP, as many other activists share the statement of the National Council in relations to repressions during the pandemics. The statement says, that while the attention and efforts of all the governments in the world are focused on the fight with pandemics, Azerbaijani government continues its repressions against the political opposition. In particular, the speech of the president Ilham Aliyev on the 19th of March called the representatives of opposition the enemies and called for their isolation within the struggle with virus. The law enforcement bodies immediately after that started to implement this instruction. They list the names of the arrested- Tofug Yagublu oin the 22nd of March, Elchin Mammad from Sumgayit on the 30th , and PFP member Anar Malikov and Muslim Unity Movements member Samir Babayev were also arrested on trumped up charges for 10 and 30 days. Anar Malikov was arrested for his publications revealing the situation in the places of quarantine, while Samir Babayev for distributing masks for free among population. They were already called  “coronavirus prisoners”. For his critique of the government Intigam Bayramov was arrested for 30 days . He was earning his subsistence income by collecting plastic products in the garbage bins and made a report from the spot with critical statements about the government. The PFP member Agil Humbatov, who supported by collecting plastic and cardboard waste in the garbage also made a video criticizing the government and was put in the psychiatric clinic twice.

The wave of protests and repressions continued throughout whole March 2020. The poet who sang a song in defense of Taleh Bagirzade – a political prisoner and a leader of the Muslim Unity movement, was arrested for 3 months. While Araz Guliyev from Shirvan city criticized the government and tore apart the YAP party ID and placed it on FB was arrested for 30 days. The government also opened criminal cases against journalist and opposition activists Tezekhan Miralamli and Alizamin Salayev. All this proves that Azerbaijani authorities are trying to use the pandemics to silence its critics, taking an advantage that the global attention will not be attracted for such a small country. The National Council demands the authorities to stop repressions against opposition. It also assures the people that the government will not succeed in consolidating dictatorship. The National Council asserts its decisiveness to mobilize people against this intention of regime of Ilham Aliyev and calls every citizen to become more active and more organized on this way.

Khadija Ismayil ridicules the statement  on the SMS permission system by Elmir Velizade “ The citizens should try to use the system only once a day. Because the system is intellectual” Communication, Transport and Veeeery High Technologies Minister’s deputy Elmir Velizade, she wrote on her timeline.

Natig Jafarli of REAL suggests to analyze in details the plan of authorities of measures related to pandemics. He stresses with regret that they ignored his comments and are limiting the aid only to the legal business.

Jafarli criticizes the plan of action and considers it inadequate to the current conditions, as it is not time to teach people a lesson by helping only a legal business and leaving  1, 1,5 mln people who work on a daily basis  without contract beyond this plan. He urges the government to make additions to the plan to cover with aid that category of workers. Because it is  an issue of social security. He also notes that there are two interesting ideas in this plan – the State Invetsment Holding and Azerbaijani Industrial Corporation.

He also comments that the government admitted that due to the shallow economy it cannot give aid to all categories of workers, business. But this is just an excuse. There are always ways to do it, even indirectly. He calculates and comes to the number of 1, 7 mln people – and it will need 1bln 950 mln to make it 250 manat per person.

Gozel Bayramli suggests to recall the census which was made in October 2019 with the 23 mln of funding and with attraction of 43 thousand people. If they did it thoroughly and diligently by now we would have a list of people, who needs aid and nobody would believe the fairy tale of 200 thousand of unemployed.

Ilkin Rustamzade of NIDA comments on the tactics of the protest movement in the new conditions of limited freedom of movement.  He asserts that to achieve certain goals one should not necessarily go out to the streets,. Just an example; There were not 100 thousand people at the meeting in defense of  Mehman Huseynov, but there were more who viewed that video and broadcasting and only after that the government made some steps. Now lets turn to todays situation. Millions of hungry people are sitting at home and watch Bayram Nurlu, Tolik and Ata Abdullayev. I want to assure you, that if there was the same number of views of the stories and videos by Meydan TV, Azad Soz or Osmangizi channel, the government by now will disclose a very generous aid package for the population.  As long as you watch those entertaining programs, you will have crawl in misery. Have a good rest!

Activists and journalists, share an information about detention by the police of the 16 year old Zahra Galandarova, who posted a caricature of Heydar Aliyev with horns. Rabiyya Mammadova reports that the remorse and apologies on her timeline was written by policemen themselves. Ordukhan Babirov promises to share this caricature daily as a response to detention and forcing Zahra to write a remorse letter. He also comments on the stay home slogan: “ They say stay at home, but what should people eat?? Those who went out without sending an SMS, are punished based on which law??? This is very much in the spirit of the same banditism which this government has been committing towards its citizens all these years. “

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev compares the measures in response to pandemics and effectiveness  of governance in Georgia ( including production of masks) to that in Azerbaijan which is not in favour of “the leader in the region, rich of oil, 10 mln wise Azerbaijan”.

The FB users, activists, bloggers and journalists discuss the amnesty decree by the president, according to which  some infamous criminals were released from prison, Akif Chovdarov, who was a chief of organized crime group in the Ministry of Intelligence and had a very bad reputation, accused of murders, kidnappings and other heavy crimes. Yadigar Sadyghli asserts that by amnestying him Ilham Aliyev violated the law, according to which people who committed heavy and particularly heavy crimes can be amnestied only after serving at least half of their term in prison – but none of the amnestied – Akif Chovdarov( 12 years sentence) or Subahir Gurbanov ( 14 years sentence) — had served half of their terms. Ilkin Rustamzade  writes that the president amnestied one of biggest criminals in Azerbaijan history. Shahveled Cbanoglu comments: “ They arrest Tofig Yagublu, while releasing Akif Chovdarov- this  by itself is a crime.” Rasul Jafarov reports that today  Ilham Aliyev signed an amnesty to those who are over  65 years old among them there are two political prisoners— both religious activists- Abbasov Faramiz and Bunyadov Eldar ( Nardaran events), he also stresses that the other mechanisms should be used also to release other political prisoners in connection with the pandemics. Khadija Ismayil  stresses that there is not a single journalist among the amnestied, but there is Akif Chovdarov.

Hikmet Hajizade posts the update on statistics of coronavirus in the country.He reports that the total number of infected reached 584. 32 recovered, while 7 has died. There are still 547 people in the hospitals. There are 63 infected more registered by today.

The AND ( Democracy in the name of Azerbaijan)  awarded Tofig Yagublu by the order named after Mammad Emin Rasulzade on the 4th April 2020.

plications.


Апрель 7, 2020