Center for National and International Studies
“The experience of the past 18 years shows that big fires in Azerbaijan, especially in its capital Baku, occur when someone wants to take something from someone.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reported that blogger Manaf Jalilzade who lives in Switzerland was attacked by three Azerbaijanis in front of his house. The attackers beat up Jalilzade as he entered the building. The assailants demanded that Jalilzade stop social media postings about the Azerbaijani government and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva. Police arrived at the scene, and the blogger was taken to hospital. A criminal case has been filed in connection with the incident. Mukhtarli said that “attacks on journalists, bloggers and political activists abroad are the routine practice of the Aliyev government”.
Meanwhile, in France, four Azerbaijanis who stabbed blogger Mohammad Mirzali were arrested
French court charged them with assaulting Mirzali and arrested them on charges of attempted murder as part of an organized group.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev said that although a week has passed since he was attacked and kidnapped by masked men, still the perpetrators are not punished. On April 21, activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was abducted on his way home by unidentified people who he said beat him.
Governance and Corruption
At an international conference held at ADA university, president Ilham Aliyev said that his government supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The statement that came two months after the Russian invasion raised questions. Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli argued that Aliyev was hesitant to openly support Ukraine because he had miscalculated the outcome of the war. Karimli’s FB post read: Why did Ilham Aliyev remain silent for so long about the Russia-Ukraine war? Why did he say “we support the territorial integrity of Ukraine” on the 65th day of the war? Why did Ilham Aliyev express this position that is shared by the whole civilized world only now? Ilham Aliyev saw how Putin, whom he once trusted, was isolated, his army suffered heavy losses, his economy was shattered, and he was dragged to defeat. Therefore, the inevitable defeat put a distance between the “allies”. He did not want to share the expected defeat with Putin. However, this maneuver is not able to change the outcome. It is not only Putin who is isolated from the world, whose defeat seems inevitable day by day, but also the authoritarian, corrupt regimes in Russia and its neighbors.”
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadohglu shared a research stating that the construction works are under the monopoly of the companies belonging to the ruling family. Ibadoghlu wrote: The liberated regions are divided among agro-parks and companies owned by Pasha Holding, Azersun, high-ranking officials, and their relatives. Ten thousand hectares of lands in Karabakh and various regions were given to Azagrotakhil LLC, and 7,000 hectares to Azera Seed LLC. As the companies grow their activities, there won’t be enough fertile and irrigated lands left for the IDPs. The IDPs will probably return to Karabakh and East Zangazur when these companies will need cheap labor.” Ibadoghlu also added that 10 million manat subsidies are allocated from the budget for these companies that benefit from various privileges such as tax incentives.
A major blaze broke out on Thursday, April 28, at the Azersun Industrial Park in Sumqayit. Several explosions have been reported at the site, while the cause of the fire remains unknown.
Many speculations are made regarding the possible cause of the explosions. Chairperson of NCDF Jamil Hasanli said that “the experience of the past 18 years shows that big fires in Azerbaijan, especially in its capital Baku, occur when someone wants to take something from someone.”
Political analyst Arastun Orujlu argued that it could be a terrorist attack, especially considering the current fragile political situation in the region. Orujlu wrote: “In general, none of the terrorist acts committed in Azerbaijan over the past 25-30 years has been solved. None! Instead, dozens of innocent Azerbaijanis were convicted and sentenced to 15-20 years, some of them to life imprisonment. All these punishments were imposed on the basis of false verdicts of the Baku Court of Grave Crimes. This is not accidental because the abolished Ministry of National Security has been behind the terrorist acts and politically motivated killings in Azerbaijan since 2004, and the Baku Court of Grave Crimes has played an important role in covering them up with fake court verdicts. The terror attack at ADNA can be an example. The terror attack was organized by the Russian GRU (military intelligence) and carried out by agents of the Azerbaijani authorities (especially the Ministry of National Security). Those who remember will confirm that I said this from the first day and have been repeating it for years.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli shared a similar opinion arguing that the fire could be linked to Russia. Gahramanli wrote: The fact that the fire broke out immediately after the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and in the city of Sumgayit, where the aid was sent, raises suspicions that this incident was not accidental and was committed by the special services of Russia.” Gahramanli argued that “Putin, who has been cornered by the world community, worried about the possibility of concluding a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia and ending the conflict once and for all.” Gahramanli also added that “the security of important sites in Azerbaijan, oil and gas enterprises, and pipelines should be strengthened.”
Chairperson of AWDP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the consumers would suffer by paying more for the oil as a result of the fire. Ibadoghlu wrote: The fire that broke out in Azersun Industrial Park yesterday started at a plastic container factory, then spread to a refrigerated warehouse where oil was stored, and as a result, the company’s five-six-month oil reserves were destroyed. According to preliminary estimates, the damage to Azersun is 20-30 million manats. All types of insurance of Sumgayit industrial park are in “Azerbaijan Sanaye Sigorta” Company. The insurance company will cover the damage caused to Azersun. However, consumers, especially low-income people who can only afford low-quality Azersun products, will suffer the most from this fire by paying more for oil. Here again, the loser will be the poor. As for whether the fire was sabotaged, there are grounds for it because the burning area belongs to the “Sumgayit Industrial Park”, which is protected by special safety rules, where the fire is unlikely to occur for technical reasons.”
Social and Economic Issues
The Azerbaijani Feminist Movement has established an ironic award called “in Support of Femicide.” The aim of the mock award is to give tribute to those who contributed to femicide, domestic violence, and discrimination against women. The first winner of the award was the chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children, Bahar Muradova. The feminist movement, which has been active for four years, has been trying to draw attention to the issues that women experience. At the press conference, the members of the Movement said that the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children’s Affairs did not support the solution of any of the issues that the Committee covered. According to the statistics by women’s rights organizations, femicide is on the rise, and domestic violence accounts for at least five percent of crimes in Azerbaijan.
The D18 Movement held a rally in front of the “Labor” monument on International Workers Day. Protesters dedicated the rally to Bolt and Wolt couriers and chanted “End to Exploitation.” Police officers in the area intervened in the gathering, and ten activists were detained who later were released.
Since the end of the Second Karabakh War, numbers of war veterans committed or attempted suicide while many more protested, demanding their rights. However, despite their protests and demand by the opposition leaders and activists, the problems of veterans are still unresolved. Reflecting on the issue, political commentator Arastun Orujlu said that the reason is negligence at the state level. Orujlu said: The government agencies believe that veterans are no longer needed. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is one of the agencies that are particularly ruthless towards veterans and perhaps the first. Minister Sahil Babayev is personally responsible for rising veteran suicide rates.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that another Azerbaijani died in the war against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fuad Farhad oghlu Mammadov was killed in the battles for the settlement of Konstantinovka in the Donetsk region.
May 3, 2022