Center for National and International Studies
“Ongoing propaganda campaign against the West not only expresses animosity towards the United States but also simultaneously seeks to discredit Western values in the eyes of Azerbaijani citizens…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms
The details of police brutality in Gabala have come to light, with video footage circulating on social networks depicting a brutal beating of a child by the police. It has been revealed that the victim of police abuse is a mere 12-year-old. Deniz Aghayev, who was subjected to the violence, recently turned 12 on December 2. Shockingly, not only the child but also his father and uncle were subjected to severe beatings. Both the father and uncle are currently held in detention at the Gabala District Police Department, where reports indicate they have been subjected to torture. A source revealed that the 12-year-old Deniz witnessed his father and uncle being brutally beaten by the police, and feeling outraged, he threw stones at police. In response, the police officer started to kick the child. Presently, the conditions of the child, his father, and his uncle are reported to be concerning.
Activist Nigar Hezi commented on police brutality against the minor, expressing skepticism about the likelihood of the police officer facing consequences or punishment. “In front of my eyes, the policemen showed acts of violence against my father, or to me in front of my father. We have seen those policemen being promoted to higher positions as “punishment”. When Aliyev said, “no policeman will be punished”, the police officers will, of course, take it as their immunity and do whatever they want. They know that no matter what they do, they will not be punished. Dismissal is not punishment. That policeman should be brought to justice.”
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu said that the cases of violence and arbitrariness is not something new for the regions. “This lawlessness is not new in Gabala. Fakhraddin Abbasov, who used to be the police chief of Agsu district and was appointed chief of Gabala district a few months ago, is literally torturing the people of Gabala. The cruelty of this creature has no limits. This is because Fakhreddin Abbasov is the nephew of Kerem Hasanov, and Kerem Hasanov is a member of the “Kurdish group” and one of the closest individuals to Beylar Ayyubov. Fakhreddin Abbasov committed the same crimes when he was the chief of police in Agsu. Ilham Aliyev is silent about the police brutality that is happening in the country because he needs such a police to protect his power. As for us, it is up to us to protect ourselves, our families, and our property from these hostile groups.”
According to the decision of the Khatai District Court, journalist Nargiz Absalamova was placed under arrest for a period of 3 months for the initial investigation period. Journalist Absalamova was charged with Article 206.3.2 (smuggling) of the Criminal Code. Only a few days before her arrest, the director and editors of “Abzas Media” Ulvi Hasanli, Muhammad Kekalov, and Sevinj Vagifgizi were also charged under the same article of the Criminal Code.
Rufat Muradli, the presenter of “Kanal 13” internet television, has been subjected to a 30-day arrest. He faces charges under articles 510 (petty hooliganism) and 535.1 (disobeying the legal request of the police) of the Code of Administrative Offenses. In addition to his role as a television host, Rufat Muradli is a member of the Board of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare (ADR) party.
Chairperson of the APFP Ali Karimli commented on the growing numbers of political arrests, saying that the great majority of the Azerbaijani public used to think that only opposition activists, journalists who exposed corruption, and public figures who wanted democracy would be imprisoned. “Many thought that the victims of police violence would be only those who attended the rallies. That’s why such a slogan was popular: keep your head down and live your life. In recent years, the government has crossed all red lines. Now, police can kick a 12-year-old boy, shoot a 16-year-old teenager with a rubber bullet, and spray pepper gas into the eyes of a 70-year-old woman. Prosecutor’s office and courts slander young girls and arrest them. All of them are sure that they will be protected by Ilham Aliyev and will remain unpunished.”
Political prisoner Lachin Valiyev has started a hunger strike. Despite multiple requests submitted by Lachin Valiyev for a power of attorney to be granted to his wife, the document has intentionally been withheld. In protest, Lachin Valiyev has been abstaining from food for three consecutive days, as reported by his family members.
Governance and Corruption
The Azerbaijani authorities continue their anti-Western campaign with Report.az serving as the primary mouthpiece for this narrative. In a recent article titled “West’s next bias – Netflix makes film against Azerbaijan,” they claim that the documentary criticizes the leadership of Azerbaijan during both Soviet times and post-independence. In the article, they also accused the head of the National Council of Democratic Forces, historian Jamil Hasanli, of taking sides against Azerbaijan. Hasanli countered this assertion, stating that Netflix is not planning to produce such a documentary. He views this as the latest move in a smear campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion, discrediting Western ideals, and steering citizens away from values associated with the West. In his Facebook post, Hasanli argued that the authorities are looking for anti-Azerbaijani elements in a film that has not been shot, has not even been scripted, and does not even exist as an idea. “Why do our members of parliament, Elman Nasirov and Agil Abbas, who are not aware of the film, consider it against Azerbaijan? After all, there is no mention of Azerbaijan at all. The documentary is about the crimes committed by the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation against the nations living in the post-Soviet space. The reason why they attack a movie that is about the Russian government is because of the propaganda against the West. They are looking for an excuse, using what is not there to target Britain. They want to include Britain in the information war against France, USA, and Germany. What dirty intentions they have, we will see. It is interesting to see why the Azerbaijani authorities are so worried about a documentary film about Russia.”
In his interview with Meydan TV, Jamil Hasanli asserted that the authorities aim to tarnish the reputation of the West and its values to dissuade public support for democratic ideals. “What is the main criterion of Azerbaijan’s relations with the West?” Azerbaijan’s primary criteria for relations with the West seem to be centered around economic transactions—selling oil and gas, purchasing Boeings, and handling cargo, often under preferential terms. However, the authorities vehemently resist any calls for democracy, political freedoms, or the right to assemble. They frame these matters as internal affairs.” Hasanli highlighted an ongoing propaganda campaign on television that not only expresses animosity towards the United States but simultaneously seeks to discredit Western values in the eyes of Azerbaijani citizens. He emphasized the narrative that encourages distancing from Western values, characterizing it as a concerning development. As per Hasanli, this narrative portrays Western values as something to be feared, contributing to a negative perception among Azerbaijani citizens.
The Chairman of APFP, Ali Karimli, has reported that the party was denied permission to hold its congress. The intention was to finalize and adopt the new party program on December 2. Following the decision made during the June 24 congress earlier this year, the plan was to complete the program and have it approved by the end of 2023. Despite reaching out to the Baku City Executive Power weeks ago, requesting a suitable venue for the congress, no response was received. This refusal by the state body prevents the fulfillment of the last congress’s decision regarding the party program and violates the requirements outlined in the Law on Political Parties. “Against the backdrop of recent political arrests, including five journalists among seven individuals in the past 10 days, the denial of a venue for the congress was not unexpected in the current repressive environment”, said Karimli. He also added that despite these challenges, the party intends to pursue legal avenues. They plan to file a lawsuit against the Baku City Executive Power for not allocating a venue for the congress in violation of the law. Additionally, there are intentions to appeal once again to the Baku City Executive Power, seeking the proper allocation of a venue for the congress.
According to Meydan TV, research indicates that this year, 51 percent of the population’s income was spent on food, with this percentage consistently rising annually. This trend is attributed to the increasing cost of living coupled with stagnant incomes. The country is witnessing a decline in both production and productivity, contributing to increasing costs. Vahid Meheremmli, an agriculture expert, expressed to Meydan TV that despite allocating 110 billion dollars for regional development over the past 15 years, no industrial enterprises were established in return. Instead, people were left with symbolic structures such as flagpoles, statues, and marble parks, exacerbating the economic challenges.
December 5, 2023