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Center for National and International Studies
The following topics are dominating these days: repressions against PFP and 2 more members detained, Karabagh, unfair trials of opposition activists, the tortures given to them, 13-14 July resumption of hostilities at the state border and related events, daily issues with human rights and democracy, the statement in defence of the political prisoners by the young writers and people of arts, the statement of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, of the National Strategic Think Tank, publication and then removal of the article by Ramiz Mehdiyev from the official media, of information about death of an independent journalist from the pro-government media, the publications in the Western media about the repressions in the country, suggestions of ways out of crisis situation.
FB community reports and comments on the arrest of two more PFP activists – the members of the Sabunchu district branch Yashar Karimov and Emin Farkhadov, and that Elnur Nasibov, who was arrested two days ago got a sentence 1 month in prison. The most recent arrest of Faraj Karimli on the 29th was realised by 6 people in civilian clothes from his home. Mammad Ibrahim, the board member of the PFP was taken from his home and arrested for 4 months, although he was not out of his house during the rally. They report detention of another PFP activist Muradov Babek. They also report the harsh sentence of 1 month of detention to the legal defender Elchin Nadirov for violation of the rules of quarantine. This is called an unjustified sentence, as the first listed sanction by law is fine from 200-400 manats. However, in case of the lawyer they gave him the harshest punishment. The prominent lawyer Alaskar Mammadli considers that this reveals the nature of the legal system of the country, when the judge by-passing the fine verdict arrests the lawyer, who is looking for justice for everyone. Some representatives of the younger generation of FB users criticise the PFP and its leaders for lack of effectiveness and suggest to self-dissolve the opposition parties. The FB community post and share the statement by the intellectuals, the statement by the Institute for Peace and Democracy ( director Leyla Yunus) where she reveals the current policies of Ilham Aliyev as targeting his critics, lists the PFP members who are under arrest ( 29people) after the 14-15 July rally and demands their immediate release- she concludes, that without the attention of the international community there will be many more activists dying under repressions, tortures and arrests. Nigar Hezi contrasts the sentence to the Gabil Jamaloglu, who hit by a knife and swore at the neighbor and was let free before the court hearing,- on the one hand, and the sentence to her father, who was kept locked all the time of investigation-under the fake charges – on the other. Gultakin Hajibeyli calls the repressions of PFP – a political genocide. Elmira Muradaliyeva, the academic, professor of history and a PFP activist wrote a statement on her timeline that at the time when the nation needed unification before the common threat, the government chose the way of confrontation and the Russian model of looking for the “domestic enemy”. She calls the way of eliminating the opponents during the quarantine leading to the deadlock, which weakens the state and the nation. Ulvi Hasanli, the youth leader, suggests that the reason why detained PFP members were not brought to their Court of Appeal is their being tortured. Ali Karimli posts the summary of the OC media article about repressions of PFP. He also reflects the statement by the political commentator Nasimi Mammadli, who argues that in order to get out of the current situation there should be a strong political mobilization of the population. Rahim Hajiyev, deputy editor of the Azadlyg newspaper puts the government’s war against the Popular Front Party in the context of Greek mythology – comparing it to the Procrustes bed. He explains the repressions against its members by the Procrustes (president Aliyev) failure to fit the party into his “ bed”. Yadigar Sadyghli recalls that in the past, when someone going to chaykhana ( the major place of political meetings and networking) would see there the other family member – would go back, commenting, that it is enough to have one from the family there…Ganimat Zahid the editor of Azadlyq newspaper in exile calls the current fight not the one between Ilham Aliyev and Ali Karimli, but the one for the dignity. He brings an example that some media removed from their sites the information about the death of the journalist Amrah Faganoglu by the order of the government and stresses that the reason of persecution of the PFP is that it exercise the right of disagreement. He argues, that while there might be more hidden disagreements, the PFP defends the right of open disagreement. The suppression of this dignity and right of open disagreement , which Aliyev tries to achieve by lynch courts and the administrative vicious sentences, is a step towards full turning the population into slaves. He calls for the solidarity with the PFP activists.
The FB community shares the statement in defense of the “Karabagh rally” prisoners and calling to unification, signed by 80 young writers, artists, actors and journalists.
Anar Mammadli posts the photo of a child and comments, that both his father and the grandfather were arrested – one for being an opposition activist, and the other – for participation in the 14th July rally. He argues that it is worth living so these children would say “not all of you were jerks”. People share actively the publications in Washington Post, RFERL, State Department spokesperson’s and the representative of the Freedom House interviews to the Voice of America.
FB community widely shares the statement by the head of PFP Ali Karimli, that he is ready to go to prison and even not to run in the elections in his party in exchange for release of all other political prisoners, including the members of his party. The FB community reports yet another 3 PFP members arrested on the 30th July: Babek Muradov, Elnur Guliyev and Mushvig Guliyev.
The National Strategic Think Tank ( led by former Musavat leader Isa Gambar issued a statement in connection with the recent arrests and detentions of the opposition activists. It quotes the human rights defenders data, that more than 100 people were detained, the criminal cases were opened against 36 of them ( 14 – members of the PFP) , dozens of them ( 11- members of PFP) were given administrative detention sentences. The arrested underwent tortures and maltreatment. Majority of the arrested did not even participate in the rally on the 14th-15th of July. The statement demands thorough investigation of the provocations at the rally near the Parliament and punishment those to blame. The NSTT considers important objectives not only establishment of free, democratic society with the provision of human rights, but also in Karabagh, along with territorial integrity and security of the country. People also comment on the idea of Emin Huseynov, that Aliyev as not left any other choice for the foreign countries, than sanctions.
The situation after resumption of hostilities on the state border is actively assessed and commented by the activists and journalists. They report that in Vandam village of Gabala region the national flag was removed from the house of the killed in the recent attacks in the front the general major Polad Hashimov under excuse that the president Aliyev will be visiting.He also reports that one of the young draftees died in the army while working at the construction site and blames the bosses who probably were using soldiers at their private properties. People discuss the decision to give the name of the killed general Polad Hashimov to one of the streets of his town. Gubad Ibadoglu considers this is a mistake and suggests to give his name to one of the streets in Baku.
New appointments — in particular of the education minister — is the subject of continued discussions and comments. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR comments that while the new education minister Emin Amrullayev is highly professional cadre, who studied at CEU and Columbia, if the system does not change, he would not be able to realize his management and professional potential. Among problems of the system are- attraction of the teachers to the controlled election process, the control by the heads of executive power over the educational institutions, low salaries of teachers. Corruption is a permanent topic among FB community. Habib Muntazir discloses that the State Committee on Work with the Religious Organizations ( the chair Mubariz Gurbanli, who was teaching atheism in the Soviet times) has conducted 5 tenders and has allocated 896.00 manats to 5 companies. 4 tenders take place the same day and their legal address is the same and all of them were created in February 2020. Their expenditures are conferences, seminars and trainings – although for 6 months there are no any of them.
The domestic policy in general is the subject of comments. Khadija Ismayil discredits so often repeated by the government and pro-government forces and journalists cliché that the opposition wants to turn the country into Syria, when the crowd destroyed it. She argues that if the billions were not stolen by the authorities and put in the off- shore accounts and spend to the education and well being of that crowd- nothing like that would happen. But with enrichment of that accounts, the dissatisfaction of the crowd is growing. Let the thieves be ashamed, she concludes. Natig Jafarli reports that the official statistics shows an increase of the gasoline consumption during the quarantine of 5 months and 20% fall of price of the gasoline 95. He argues, that while some may think this is a result of the legalization of data, nobody is being punished for the illegal trade of gasoline. Hebib Muntazir discloses the “economics” of the information activities related to the war in Karabagh, where the State Council of Support for the NGOs under the President has distributed 1 mln 200 thousand worth grants for this purpose.
The publication by the Ramiz Mehdiyev on the 29th July and then removal the next day is the subject of heated comments and discussions. Some argue that the government tries to make up the conspiracy of Ramiz Mehdiyev and Ali Karimli. So they suggest that Ramiz Mehdiyev sends a message to someone, and it consists contradiction with the president’s speech- the latter says that the main enemy is the opposition, while Mehdiyev asserts that this is the Armenian occupants. There is a new configuration of power emerging in the country, where the worst enemy is PFP and National Council, and there will be an attempt to tie them to Ramiz Mehdiyev. Some consider that this is a strong message to Ilham Aliyev and ask the question whether this is an indication of the self-defence.
Jamil Hasanli of NC raises the issue of flattering as the phenomenon of the authoritarian states, including Azerbaijan. He quotes the Washington Post which called Aliyev “the unchecked tyran”, but notes that there are thousands of people, whom he could not scare, or intimidate, or make to surrender. While he arrested near 40 fearless activists of opposition, he used the people’s feelings about Karabagh for his political speculations, in spite of 11 best and highly professional military were killed in this attack.
Pandemic issue is commented on and discussed. The NGO activists state, that there was no any aid of 190 manats to people for July month of quarantine. H. Muntazir says with irony that the brother of the head epidemiologist of the country Ibadulla Agayev who said I can swear by anything that there is no coronavirus in Azerbaijan!, has died of the virus. He was the senior lecturer at the department of foreign languages of the Economic University. Natig Jafarli warns that the future of the world is hard but submitted to the logic of economy and scientific processes, while the future of Azerbaijan is controlled manually and not based on any institutional foundation. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR presents the list of oligarchs who benefitted from the state aid during the pandemic. Of 280 million manat allocated for this purpose 118 mln were already spent in 6 months of this year. This aid was given to AZAL ( 86 mln 900 thousand manat), Baku Metrolpoliten ( 2 mln 600 thousand). However, there is no report about spent 28, 5 mln manat. According to some information, these hidden resources are taken by the ministers-oligarchs.