Center for National and International Studies
“Ilham Aliyev started the complete destruction of the Azerbaijani media with the murder of Elmar Huseynov, and since then, journalists were killed, beaten up, kidnapped, and imprisoned…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
March 2 marks the 18th anniversary of the murder of Elmar Huseynov, founder and editor-in-chief of “Monitor” magazine. The journalist was shot dead in 2005 in front of his house as a result of an armed attack by an unknown person. Even though 18 years have passed since his assassination, the perpetrators and those who were responsible for the murder have not been brought to justice. On the memorial day of the deceased journalist, his colleagues and politicians commemorated him at his grave. Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that since Huseynov’s death, there had been many attacks on free speech and journalists in Azerbaijan. Mukhtarli’s Facebook post: “It was the day when independent Azerbaijani press was shot. By killing Elmar, Ilham Aliyev started the complete destruction of the Azerbaijani media. After Elmar, Rafig Taghi and Rasim Aliyev were killed. Dozens of journalists were beaten, kidnapped, and imprisoned. Many of the journalists who were at Elmar’s funeral later were on the side of the killer. A law worse than the media law of the Soviet era was adopted. Despite all the repressions, there are still independent journalists, and I believe that our murdered press will rise one day. I am sure that we will see the day when the murderers of Elmar, Rafiq Taghi, and Rasim will answer for the crimes they committed.”
TV presenter and actress Tunay Aliyeva wrote an open letter to First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva. Tunay Aliyeva expressed her concerns about the women whose personal correspondence with the activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was shared on social networks. Meydan TV shared the actress’ open letter: “Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days to demand his rights. It is his choice. However, a certain group of people who think they have exposed him (some authorities of Azerbaijan are said to be involved as well) has been distributing materials containing names, videos, and photos of women, including myself, that were taken in public places years ago. By creating channels on “Telegram”, they insult dozens of Azerbaijani girls and women and share their information without checking whether it is true or not. They still continue this moral terror. Those who carry out this “divulgence” process do not think about the future of those women in a conservative society like Azerbaijan, their current family status, their psychological state, and the public’s attitude towards them. This is a cybercrime, an invasion of people’s privacy. In addition, it is putting the lives of the citizens in great danger for the sake of a political goal.” In her appeal, the actress asked Mehriban Aliyeva to issue instructions to relevant institutions to prevent the transmission of personal data. “There is no moral value or red line for those who committed this terror against us. I call you to say “stop” to all these abominations that are happening. You are also a mother, and you know what would happen to a woman or a girl in such situations. Please give the order to end this humiliation.”
Governance and Corruption
Ruling Party YAP’s member is accused of stealing 527 thousand manats. A member of the Youth Union of the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), Jabrayil Farzaliyev, who acted as a representative of the international campaign “Justice for Khojaly!”, is accused of embezzling more than half a million manats. Farzaliyev allegedly stole a total of 527,000 manats from “Pasha Bank” and the Youth Fund in the name of doing various projects.
A leading Azerbaijani theologian and influential religious leader Haji Shahin Hasanli was reported to have died of a heart attack. Forty-eight years old imam’s sudden death shocked many of his followers and the public. Hasanli was an active public figure who would frequently appear on TV and at public events. Less than a couple of months ago Haji Shahin condemned the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran and argued that the Iranian government was responsible for the incident. The imam’s funeral on Thursday was attended by thousands of people, including notable Azerbaijani public figures and politicians. Members of both the ruling party and opposition parties shared their condolences. According to the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office, an investigation is being conducted into the death of Haji Sahin Hasanli.
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoglu said that although there is a surplus of 2.6 billion manats (unspent funds) in the state budget as of February 1, 2023, the salaries of resident doctors working in hospitals have not been paid until now. Ibadoglu addressed the issue on Facebook: “How the resident doctors are supposed to live in the current situation of soaring prices without receiving a salary? Is this how the state cares about young people? Is it possible to train specialists with this approach? These questions should be answered by the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Health.”
Director of the Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov criticized the government for the low wages and inaccurate statistics. Goyushov: “This government says that our poverty rate is 5-6 percent. In other words, the remaining 95 percent are well off. Now how they calculate poverty is where things get interesting. The minimum wage in the country is 345 manats. But this government does not consider people whose income is below 345 manats poor 🙂 Only those whose monthly income is below 250 manats are considered poor. In fact, not only those who receive less than 345 manats but also those who receive 345 manats are, in fact, the poorest of the poor. In other words, the figures of this government are just as fake as itself.”
On March 1, there was a meeting between representatives of the Azerbaijani government and representatives of the Armenian community living in the mountainous part of Karabakh. According to the Azerbaijani media, the goal of the meeting is the reintegration of Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijan. For this purpose, member of the Parliament Ramin Mammadov was appointed as the person responsible for dialogue with Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is reported that the meeting with representatives of Armenian residents took place in Khojaly – at the headquarters of the Russian peacekeeping mission. Masim Mammadov, head of the monitoring group investigating the illegal exploitation of natural resources, experts from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the State Service for Real Estate Affairs under the Ministry of Economy, and “AzerGold” Closed Joint Stock Company, also participated in the meeting. Ramin Mammadov called reintegration the main task facing the group led by him and noted that humanitarian issues were discussed as well.
Only two days after the meeting between the parties, there was a military incident in Karabakh, where several soldiers from both sides were reported to be killed. According to the Azerbaijani side, the cause of the incident was the transportation of weapons and ammunition from Armenia to Karabakh by Armenians using the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turssu road. When the units of the Azerbaijani army stopped the truck carrying military cargo and tried to conduct an inspection, the Armenian militants opened fire, and the Azerbaijani side responded with retaliatory fire. According to the information released by the Ministry of Defense, the ministry received information about the transportation of military equipment and ammunition from the Republic of Armenia to Karabakh, and when the representatives of the Ministry of Defense tried to prevent the illegal transportation, Armenian armed men opened fire. The Ministry of Defense reports that “as a result of the shooting, there were casualties and injuries from both sides.”
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli said that “along with the Armenian separatists, the Russian leadership, that protected those armed separatists in the territory of Karabakh and enabled today’s provocation, is also responsible for killing and injury of the servicemen”. Karimli also added that “undoubtedly, the responsibility of the Azerbaijani authorities, which invited the armed forces of the invading Russia to the country under the name of “peacekeepers” and deceived the people with the lie that “the Karabakh war is over, the Armenian side has accepted the capitulation”, should not be forgotten.”
March 7, 2023