Center for National and International Studies
“If entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan take the initiative, stand in solidarity with the oppressed, familiarize themselves with societal issues, and speak out against them, they don’t align with the repressive policies of the government.”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
It has been reported that individuals who were subjected to administrative arrests during the Soyudlu incidents have been transported to the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Baku. Samad Rahimli, a lawyer and member of the Soyudlu Working Group, informed the Turan news agency that either criminal cases have been initiated against these individuals or they were brought to Baku unlawfully. According to Rahimli, a total of 11 people were arrested in connection with the events in Soyudlu. Eight of them were arrested under Article 513 of the Code of Administrative Offenses for violating the regulations related to organizing and conducting gatherings, while criminal charges were filed against three individuals for drug offenses. The lawyer further explained that despite preparing appeals for the detained individuals, their relatives declined to sign the legal representation agreement. As a result, the appeals could not be submitted within the designated timeframe, as the village residents and relatives of the arrested individuals refused legal assistance.
Nazim Beydamirli, a prominent economist and businessman who formerly served as a member of parliament representing Gadabey district, has been apprehended by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on suspicion of wrongdoing. Initial reports suggest that Nazim Beydamirli was detained due to allegations of demanding money from a company in which he held shares. Agil Layic, the lawyer representing Beydamirli, stated that his client has been detained as a suspect in connection with the incidents that occurred in Soyudlu.
Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Jamil Hasanli has voiced his support for Baydamirli, calling him a political prisoner. “Nazim Beydamirli is among the few intellectuals originally from Gadabay, who, shortly after the Soyudlu protests took place exposed the hazards posed by the gold mining enterprise in Soyudlu to the local population, flora, and fauna in journalist Kamran Mahmudov’s “Hard Question” program. Through his revelations, he highlighted the detrimental effects of cyanide on the environment and provided a comprehensive account of the history of this enterprise. It is evident that there are broader intentions concerning Nazim Bey’s case. By levying such accusations, the aim is to tarnish Nazim Beydamirli’s reputation among the public and diminish the support he receives. This is due to the fact that Nazim Beydamirli holds a positive standing in society, being an intellectual with strong national, spiritual, and moral qualities, as well as an honest businessman.”
Lawyer Rufat Safarov provided commentary on Baydamirlis’s arrest in his interview with Meydan TV, suggesting that the regime is punishing him for his activism and vocal opposition to injustices in the country. “If entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan take the initiative, stand in solidarity with the oppressed, familiarize themselves with societal issues, and speak out against them, they don’t align with the repressive policies of the government. The authorities are deeply concerned about these individuals and seek to minimize their numbers. Nazim Beydamirli is an example of a few wealthy businessperson who operates independently from the government and refuses to turn a blind eye to political and social violations within the country, refusing to remain silent.”
Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party Gubad Ibadoghlu, also condemned Baydamirli’s arrest calling for his immediate release. “What authoritarian authorities fear most is the independent activist, independent community, independent civil society, independent media and independent political party. Such authorities refuse to acknowledge their existence. The government has been deeply concerned about Nazim Beydamirli’s independent stance as a citizen and his expression of opinions for a long time. Consequently, the Soyudlu incident served as a catalyst for those eagerly anticipating such an opportunity. Mr. Baydamirli is an economist and a friend of ours. Within a circle of like-minded individuals, his practical expertise has positioned him above others because he not only identifies problems but also personally experiences the repercussions. As a result, his business and property rights have been repeatedly violated. I firmly advocate for the rightful freedom of Nazim Beydamirli and an end to these repressions.”
Meydan TV has reported that Ilkin Ismayilov, a resident of Kabirli village and a participant in the Second Karabakh War, took his own life by hanging himself in the yard of his residence. The motives behind his tragic suicide remain unknown.
Governance and Corruption
On July 4th, a coordinated operation took place in the branches of the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription in Khachmaz, Lachin, and Jalilabad districts. The operation was carried out by personnel from the General Office for the Fight against Corruption, under the supervision of the Prosecutor General. As a result of the operation, officials from the aforementioned institutions, including department heads, were apprehended in all three regions. The press service of the General Prosecutor’s Office has also confirmed these developments, acknowledging that the Anti-Corruption Department conducted operations in all three districts, resulting in several individuals being detained. The agency has stated that detailed information regarding the operation and the detainees will be provided to the public.
Zahid Niftaliyev, the chief officer of the Department of Internal Security of the Ministry of Defense and the Training Planning Department of the Military Education and Training Department, was released. Ilgar Guliyev, the chairman of the Tartar Military Court, concluded that the accusation of bribery brought against him is groundless. The judge dismissed the charge against him under Article 311 (bribery) of the Criminal Code. The judge considered that his act contained the crime of incitement to bribery, and therefore, Zahid Niftaliyev was fined 10,000 manats under Article 32.312.1 (incitement to bribe) of the Criminal Code. During the court proceedings, there was a request to summon and question Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, but the petition was denied. Niftaliyev was alleged to have engaged in activities involving bribery, such as dismissing military personnel from the army or altering their place of service in exchange for bribes. Additionally, in 2018, Niftaliyev faced accusations of employing military personnel as laborers in his summer house located in the Vandam village of the Gabala region.
Following the implementation of the newly enacted “On Political Parties” legislation, 29 parties have declared the suspension of their activities. Since the start of 2023, a minimum of 30 parties have ceased functioning. Under the provisions of the new law, political parties must gather the signatures of at least 5,000 members to obtain official registration. Experts argue that this requirement is intended to disqualify existing parties and prevent their participation in upcoming elections.
Jamil Hasanli, the Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces, stated that the primary purpose of this law is to dismiss a majority of the currently existing parties. “The process of this “dismissal” is occurring rapidly, to the extent that even the Ministry of Justice is cautious about disclosing the exact number of “dismissed” parties. Previously, the authorities mobilized about 60 parties and engaged them in a dialogue, received collective statements from them once a week, and made a new configuration from these party members who had no social base. They then treated those party leaders with apparent respect and took on trips aboard buses, but now they are being forcefully removed from the bus like passengers without a ticket.”
July 7, 2023