Center for National and International Studies
“Azerbaijani government must follow the developments in Yerevan carefully and be aware that the overthrow of Pashinyan would increase the tensions in the region.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Journalist and human rights activist Elchin Mammad, currently detained in Prison number 16, has started a hunger strike. The human rights activist, who has been unjustly imprisoned for two years, demands his immediate release. According to his family, Mammad was arrested for his journalism and became a target of certain circles. Mammad stated that he believes that he has been taken hostage by interested officials and is being held captive for a crime he did not commit. Mammad was arrested in March 2020 on trumped-up accusations and charged with theft and illegal possession of weapons. In October of that year, he was sentenced to four years in prison. As a journalist, Mammad published articles on the violated rights of citizens and investigative articles on the cases of corruption and disseminated the relevant reports. Shortly before his arrest, he issued a critical statement on the human rights situation in the country and spoke to local and Turkish media. The human rights activist also investigated the mysterious death of Emin Huseynov, an employee of the Prosecutor General’s Office, who caused quite a stir in Azerbaijan, and opened a lawsuit. Mammad connects his arrest with his professional activity and considers it an adequate response to his critical views. International human rights organizations consider the charges against him unfounded and demand his release.
Mubariz Aliyev, who was wounded in the First Karabakh War and received a disability pension for many years, said that his disability pension had been suspended. The same commission, which examined him in 2016, gave a different report on Aliyev’s health condition, disqualifying him for veteran pension.
Seymur Zulfugarov, the veteran of the second Karabakh War, complained that his property rights were violated. According to Zulfigarov, he bought two hundred square meters of land in the Gobu settlement, but someone else wanted to appropriate the land he purchased, and even the fence of the area was destroyed. Although Zulfigarov appealed to the police, the problem has not been solved for months.
Although almost two weeks have passed since a group of masked men abducted and tortured activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.
Ilkin Suleymanov, who is accused of killing 10-year-old girl Narmin Guliyeva, says that after four days of torture, he was forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. Guliyeva was reported missing by her family in Dondar Gushchu village of Tovuz region and 47 days later her burnt body was found. Although a year has passed since then, the investigation is still going. The case is being considered by a panel of judges chaired by Dadash Imanov at the Ganja Court of Grave Crimes. Ilkin Suleymanov, who is accused of killing the minor, testified in court on May 4 that he was forced to confess to the crime under torture, and he had, in fact, no knowledge of the abduction and murder of Guliyeva. According to Suleymanov, he was tortured at the Tovuz District Police Department for four days, after which he could not bear the torture and had to sign a confession. Suleymanov: “I was handcuffed and forced to crawl back and forth on my knees. They hit me with a stick on different parts of my body. They put a bucket on my head and beat me with a stick. It was terrible. They gave me an electric shock… I saw that I could not stand it. I said, I’ll do whatever you want.”
Governance and Corruption
On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders published the annual World Press Freedom Index. The situation in Azerbaijan is classified as very bad, being on the red list of the index. Being number 154th on the list, Azerbaijan found its place between Belarus (153rd) and Russia (155th). Belarus is followed by Tajikistan (152) and Russia by Afghanistan (156). The worst situation, according to the index, is in North Korea (180th place), Eritrea (179th place), Iran (178th), Turkmenistan (177th), and China (176th). Neighboring Armenia is 51st, and Georgia is 89th on the list. The Azerbaijani government has long been criticized for limiting freedom of expression and strong state control over media. While many journalists have been arrested for their activities, the murderers of Elmar Huseynov, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Monitor magazine, who was assassinated in 2005, have not yet been found.
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli addressed his followers on Facebook, saying that the Azerbaijani citizens are equally responsible for the current authoritarian and oppressive regime. Karimli’s post read: ” We must admit that the main responsibility for the current state of lawlessness in our country lies with the Aliyev’s family government. However, those who say “I do not interfere in politics”, “I am not interested in freedom of speech”, “what is the use of democracy, or free elections” are equally responsible for the current situation. Many of our compatriots, who turned a blind eye to the regime’s repressions and are indifferent to the fate of their state, nation, and themselves, are also responsible for this situation. The first step to getting rid of lawlessness and being ruled by the rules of the jungle is to become a responsible citizen.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has opened a criminal case against Azerbaijani Ambassador to Moldova Gudsi Osmanov, who has visited Crimea. Human rights lawyer Rufat Safarov said that this is a clear indication that the Azerbaijani government sends not professional diplomats but businessmen as ambassadors to seize money and set up businesses in the countries they have been appointed.
Rallies in Yerevan
Opposition in Armenia has started rallies to protest the government’s concessions to Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region. The opposition leader called for mass strikes and demonstrations around the country, urging the prime minister Pashinyan to resign before it is too late. Armenian prime minister, after the negotiations with the Azerbaijani side, agreed in principle to a peace agreement. Reacting to the rallies in Yerevan, chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that “Russia has again promised weapons and comprehensive assistance to the Armenian separatists in order to keep the hotbed of war in the South Caucasus.” According to Karimli, extremist nationalism in Armenia and Russia’s intervention prevent Armenia from reaching an agreement with Azerbaijan and normalizing its relations with Turkey. Journalist Seymur Hezi argued that the Azerbaijani government must follow the developments in Yerevan carefully and be aware that the overthrow of Pashinyan would increase the tensions in the region.
Social and economic Issues
War veteran Amil Zulfiqarov told Meydan TV that after returning from the Second Karabakh War, he has been looking for a job but has not been successful. Zulfiqarov said: “Every time they apply for a job, war veterans are told that just because they fought for 5-10 days, they don’t have to stay in front of the door of the Employment Service. I did not fight to get 5-10 sheep from employment service. After returning from the war, like all normal people, I am looking for a job, and I have the right to apply to the state for a job. In order not to starve, I want to join the Self-Employment Program, a social project of the state. Is it a shame that we applied to the state for a job because we fought in the war? ”
May 6, 2022