Center for National and International Studies
“One of the most important responses to the groundless “ethnic cleansing” accusations made by the Armenians should be to urgently enhance the human rights records of the country…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
Labor rights activist Afiaddin Mammadov, who was arrested on trumped-up assault charges, refuted the accusations against him. He stated, “I am innocent of this crime. In fact, the other person assaulted me so severely that two days after my arrest and imprisonment, I had a nosebleed. I founded the Workers’ Table Trade Union, with my primary responsibility being the protection of workers’ rights. This is the true cause of my arrest. I’ve been detained three times in the past and subjected to administrative arrests, but this time, they’ve initiated a criminal case.”
Leading up to the military offensive of September 2023, state-controlled Azerbaijani media and media outlets aligned with the government had conducted a targeted defamation campaign against the country’s limited anti-war faction, which had emerged following the Second Karabakh War in 2020.
According to Azadliq newspaper, a grenade detonated while being handled by 29-year-old veteran Hamid Gulmamedov in the village of Yengiyan in Zagatala. Tragically, Gulmamedov succumbed to his injuries, and two individuals who were with him sustained injuries as well. It is suspected that a significant number of veterans possess artillery devices.
Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev responded to a query from journalist Parviz Hashimli regarding the alleged fabricated criminal cases involving prominent political prisoners, including Professor Gubad Ibadoglu, economist Nazim Beydamirli, and political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. Aliyev expressed disapproval of the appeals made by international organizations to the official authorities in Baku. The Prosecutor General said: “Specific facts and evidence were used in each of the mentioned cases. Every person is brought to criminal responsibility according to the procedures provided by the law. In each of these cases, we use specific facts and evidence, which is also the main goal of the prosecutor’s office. As for international organizations, I think that it is unacceptable for any state to intervene in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan, including investigative procedures. This is a wrong step both politically and legally.”
Human Rights Advocate Rufat Safarov criticized Aliyev’s statement, labeling it as unlawful and entirely unfounded. Safarov asserted that the prosecutor had followed the president’s directives and implored Aliyev to uphold the principles of justice. Safarov’s Facebook post: “Kamran Aliyev, I urge you to respect the position you hold, the duty you carry, even if you do not respect yourself, respect the responsibilities your title entails, and adhere to the prosecutorial office’s core principles, including political impartiality.”
The Situation in Karabakh
Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president, said that Moscow will continue to discuss with Baku the extension of the stay of the “Russian peacekeeping contingent” in Nagorno-Karabakh. He justified this by the fact that there is still no peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Moscow is also interested in opening communications in the region. “It is certainly difficult to discuss the issue, because we are talking about the territory of Azerbaijan, but Moscow is interested in continuing its assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh. Also, the opening of communications is in the interests of all three countries,” said Peskov.
Numerous opposition leaders hold the view that Peskov‘s statement signifies Russia’s intention to establish a military base in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Such a development, they argue, would imply a perpetual Russian presence in Azerbaijan, undermining the country’s sovereignty. Consequently, they emphasize that all endeavors should be directed towards the complete withdrawal of the Russian military presence from Azerbaijani territory, ideally by 2025 at the latest. They assert that foreign military bases or contingents within the country’s borders run counter to Azerbaijani laws and constitute an encroachment on the nation’s sovereignty.
Opposition leader chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, strongly denied the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s allegations that Azerbaijan is conducting ethnic cleansing in Karabakh. Karimli argued that regardless of the fact that the Azerbaijani government is authoritarian and corrupt, it would not be involved in ethnic cleansing. Karimli’s Facebook post: The Azerbaijani government is repressive, unjust, unfair, arresting, and torturing illegally. However, the Azerbaijani authorities have not displayed these characteristics against the Armenian population in the same way they have to us. The Azerbaijani authorities can be accused of many things, and we are doing it. But the accusation of “ethnic cleansing” is fundamentally false. Both the Azerbaijani authorities and the opposition have repeatedly stated that all the rights of the Armenian population who accept the citizenship of Azerbaijan and choose to live in Azerbaijan will be ensured. But if the Armenian population chooses to leave Azerbaijan after all this, it is their own free choice. We also have to respect their choices. Such accusations of “ethnic cleansing” will strengthen the feeling of vengeance in Armenia and Azerbaijan’s need to protect itself from this. As a result, such groundless claims against Azerbaijan can delay the arrival of solid peace in our region. It is only useful for foreign forces who want the region to remain a region of tension, ethnic hatred and war.”
Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli also clalled the ethnic cleansing “a groundless accusation”. He argued that Azerbaijani authorities should release political prisoners to disprove the wrong allegation. Gahramanli’s post: “ On this eve, at least the Azerbaijani authorities should release the political prisoners. One of the most important responses to the groundless “ethnic cleansing” campaign launched by the Armenians at the international level should be to urgently remove the stains from the state’s human rights image. Today, Armenians, who use the sad situation of human rights in our country, are trying to convince the world community of their lies and slander. Therefore, at this stage, the Azerbaijani authorities should take urgent steps to improve the situation of human rights in the country.”
Levon Mnatsakyan, the former Minister of Defense of the defunct Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was apprehended by Azerbaijani authorities while attempting to cross from Karabakh to Armenia. Narek Samsonyan, the president of the public organization “Citizen Consciousness,” disclosed this information on his Facebook page. Additionally, Arshavir Garamyan, a lieutenant-general of the organization, was also taken into custody. Moreover, according to Armenian sources, three former presidents and members of the government in Karabakh crossed over to Armenia as a result of the negotiations between Baku and Yerevan.
October 3, 2023