Center for National and International Studies
“…We remember him with love and respect…”
The FB community discusses the 7th Congress of the ruling party YAP, denigrating the “hate speech” of Ilham Aliyev directed against the opposition, but commemorates widely the memory of the founder of Azerbaijan’s Democratic Republic, Mammad Emin Rasulzade, displaying a high appreciation of his role in Azerbaijan’s history. The expulsion of prominent female lawyer Shahla Humbatova from the Azerbaijan Bar Association is denounced, along with the continuing acute social problems in the country.
Governance and party politics. The activists comment on the ruling YAP 7th congress, some concluding that it has once again proved that the party is not ready for changes. “The governance in the country is totally jammed”, comments the journalist Avaz Zeynalli. They share the news that the president (“unchangeable chair”) appointed his wife as his deputy in the party, while Ramiz Mehdiyev and Siyavush Novruzov were left outside of the leadership structures. The former was appointed a member of the Veteran’s Council. People continue to discuss the role of the infamous Ata Abdullayev in the domestic policy of the president, with Gultakin Hajibeyli of NCDF commenting that he is probably the closest associate of Ilham Aliyev, as being sent “to attack” both Ali Karimli and Ramiz Mehdiyev. Natig Jafarli of REAL concludes that YAP failed to transform itself into a classic political party. People also share the video of satirical poem ridiculing Abdullayev as a figure symbolizing the degrading of moral values promoted by the current political regime. Osmangizi TV discusses the recent move of President Aliyev to unite 6 more parties with the ruling YAP. It also discusses the new report of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and qualify it as increased pressure on Aliyev’s regime. Gubad Ibadoglu comments with irony, that although the unification took please, none of the newly joined party representatives were offered any seats at the Board of YAP, which could serve as the motivation for other parties to join YAP too. He compares this unification to context of the banks, and that was done to reduce their number.
The president’s hate speech at the congress of YAP. The activists, journalists and bloggers decry President Aliyev’s statement against the consistent opposition in his speech at the 7th congress of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP). The new appeal of the National Council for Democratic Forces (NCDF) asserts that Ilham Aliyev’s speech is full of humiliating expressions regarding the opposition. He reminds his followers that the president has been doing it for a year already – the first time on 19th March in the speech dedicated to the Novruz Bayram, and this was a signal for a new wave of repression, resulting in the arrest of prominent opposition leader Tofig Yagublu. The statement points to the repressions during the year, including the arrest of Karimli’s bodyguard Niyameddin Ahmadov, tortured and kept incommunicado for 9 months, the communication blockade of the PFP leader Ali Karimli, who was deprived of travel documents for 10 years, the arrest of 16 PFP members for “participation” in provocation at the rally on Karabagh, although the majority did not attend the rally, etc. The repressions continued after the end of the war. The statement asserts that the “hate speech of President Aliyev at the YAP congress is proof that repressions are conducted upon the direct request of the president” . It states, that under Aliyev, the country has joined the ranks of the 10 most autocratic states by the Freedom House indicators, there are 150 political prisoners, the courts function by political orders, the freedom of expression and assembly are in the dire conditions etc. It appeals to the international community and people of Azerbaijan to protest at this situation. The statement concludes that only the activity of people themselves, support for true opposition and civil society, greater interest shown in the organization of its forces, etc. may lead to the mass character of the movement.
Azadlyg newspaper published a satirical essay by Rafig Manafli about the speech. He argues that – as all human beings – the president also can have his sympathies, and antipathies, but while he is in his official position, he cannot so consistently destroy political relations, which is one of the four pillars of the state political system and totally in his monopoly. He also stresses the ethical part of it by pointing out that insulting other people by relying on such solid protection – enshrined in the law on “Protection of the President’s honor and dignity”, by the Security Guard, National Security Agency, Ministry of Internal affairs, etc., does not bring any political dividends to the leader. FB users share the statement by Tofig Yagublu that “So far there was nobody else who discredited the reputation of the Azerbaijani state as much as the Aliyevs”. Jamil Hasanli, a noted historian and opposition politician, posted a status with excerpts from the speech of President Aliyev accompanied by his commentaries (see below):
“These are excerpts from Ilham Aliyev’s speech at the 7th Congress of the New Azerbaijan Party. You don’t have to judge him. He was raised in the family of a member of the Soviet Politburo, chairman of the Soviet KGB. Of course, his views on the opposition and opposition thinking cannot differ from that of the upbringing of the Politburo and the approach of the KGB.
He has turned Azerbaijan into a corruption swamp, a camp of political prisoners. Wherever one looks for corruption, the names of Azerbaijani ministers and members of the family of Ilham Aliyev come out. He also accuses the opposition, the National Council, or rather me, of receiving money from abroad and sending it to Azerbaijan to create chaos inside the country with this money. It seems that all dictators think the same way, they repeat the same lie.
He appointed his wife as the country’s first vice-president, and at congress two days earlier as the first deputy chairman of the ruling party, of which he is the chairman, and says that democracy in Western countries has failed. Such an absurdity can only be claimed by someone who was brought up in the family of a member of the Soviet Politburo, grew up with the bread of the KGB.
In its political content, social character, and moral infamy, it is a continuation of the Putin regime in Azerbaijan. And therefore, under the name of “peacemakers”, Ilham Aliyev returned to Azerbaijan the Russian troops that were withdrawn from Azerbaijan by the national government 27 years ago. Please read his speech yourself.
“At this new stage, we need to further deepen the political dialogue. This process began before the war, and I believe that good results were achieved in a short time. We can say that all parties, if we exclude the anti-national council calling itself a political entity, all political forces spoke in favour of dialogue, welcomed our initiative, and this dialogue has already taken place. I can say with full confidence that this has happened without any outside interference… This political dialogue is underway to this day. I very much approve of it. I believe that it is of great importance for improving the future political system of our country. I also call upon representatives and members of the New Azerbaijan Party to pay attention to the fact that we have no problems with any political entity in the country. With anti-national elements, of course, we will never be able to sit down at the same table because they are traitors. They receive instructions from the outside. Their emissaries are based in foreign capitals. They receive money from there, try to cast a shadow over our glorious Victory in order to mislead people. They cited Pashinyan as an example for us, called him a pure person, a democrat. They said that there would be such a leader in Azerbaijan too. This democrat has arrested all the opposition. If the war had not started on 27 September, he would not have released them. The leader of the main opposition party was arrested a few days before the war… But why are our “democrats” silent? Why aren’t they saying that Pashinyan should become an example for us. Let him come and say this, let him answer for his words. There is no person in Armenia who would not make fun of him. They have given him some nickname, they know better. They cited him as an example. Why? Because they received an instruction from there, from the centre, from their centre. What was the goal? The goal was to stir up everything in Azerbaijan, break it, undermine the authority of the Azerbaijani leadership, write dirty conjectures, slander, false articles – all this is happening right before our eyes. We have not forgotten this. They wanted to distract us from the main task, so that we indulge in internal litigation, unfounded accusations, distract us from the main task, so that the occupied lands would forever remain in the hands of the Armenians. This was their goal. The national traitors represented on the anti-national council are also pursuing this goal. The same goal is pursued by those who are trying to cast a shadow over the Victory of our valiant army. In the history of Azerbaijan, perhaps, there were no such despicable people as them. But we cooperate with all other political entities and will continue to do that.”
Commemoration of 66th anniversary of M.E.Rasulzade’s death. The FB community widely commemorates the 66th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Azerbaijan modern nation-state, the Azerbaijan People’s Republic (1918-1920). Mammad Emin Rasulzade, who was born in Novkhani village near Baku on 31 January 1884. He died in Ankara on March 6th at the age of 71. The civil society, political activists, journalists – all post the status and essays dedicated to the memory of Rasulzade, compensating the indifference of the authorities who so far has not commemorated this prominent personality at state level. The leader of the Musavat party Arif Hajili states on his timeline that created by Rasulzade’s political ideology, Azerbaijanizm, independence and concepts of freedom live nowadays and will live forever. The former leader of Musavat Isa Gambar wrote on his timeline, that 66 years after, the struggle continues: the same highway, the same goal. The struggle is about national and democratic statehood, based on modernization. Nigar Hezi asserts that “although there are no monuments of Rasulzade, he is in the heart of each citizen. The regime of Aliyev who tried to delete memory about Rasulzade will remain a black stain on the people’s history. But with Azerbaijan keeping on going, Mammad Emin Rasulzade will live too. We remember him with love and respect”.
Corruption. Ali Karimli of the PFP comments on Ilham Aliyev’s fight with corruption, pointing to the fact that it was the president himself who appointed them and then for a lengthy time provided for their impunity. The popular blogger Mehman Huseynov reveals facts about the new illegal multimillion property of the chair of AzerSu state water supply company and comments that his money indeed flows like “water”. But he points to the silence of the leadership of the country, ignoring the revelation and not punishing the bureaucrats for corruption.
Release of Mubariz Mansimov. FB circulates news about release for provisional term service of the Azerbaijani businessman Mubariz Mansimov, who was arrested in Turkey charged with collaboration with the FATO terrorist group.
COVID-19. The activists share the feedback of the citizens on the way the measures in the fight with the coronavirus infection are being organized. A FB user complains that the much-advertised website randevu.its.gov.az does not work well in practice, as at his appointed time nearly 200 people came to school #5 in Khirdalan, creating perfect conditions for the large group of vulnerable citizens to be infected. Meydan TV reports that “It seems that the quarantine rules are obligatory only for us. Once they see someone without a mask in the street, they hurry to fine that person, but totally ignore people who are without masks at the YAP congress.
Human Rights. The FB community widely discusses and decries the expulsion of the internationally known lawyer Shahla Gumbatova from the Azerbaijan Bar Association. Fuad Gahramanli makes the comment that the disbarring of decent independent lawyers is a hard blow to the establishment of the rule of law and the provision of human rights in the country. She was awarded the title of “Woman of Courage” last year by Mike Pompeo and Melaniya Trump. He also speaks about a feeling of desperation within the society that does not see any future and is calls on his ‘flowers’ not to surrender and to actively demand their rights. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments that the hopes that younger leadership of the Bar Association will improve management of the organization was not justified – quite the opposite – he implements orders in an even worse way, while continuing with repressions. He expresses confidence that those responsible will be all tried by history. Seymur Hezi comments that this is a political request, not a decision of the Bar Association, and the reason is clear – her defence of political prisoners. He appeals to the other lawyers – “try not to be arrested”, as there is practically nobody left to defend the political prisoners. Shamshad Aga, the journalist and blogger, states that Shahla Gumbatova was shamelessly expelled from the ABA membership: “The Court approved the decision of the leadership of the ABA, and the reforms continue”, he concludes with irony.
Social issues. One of the activists shares the story of a beggar, who approached an expensive car owner asking for money to help his sick son. The owner ridiculed him, responding that he had only dollars and a plastic card. He told the activist his story, saying that the demand for bribes everywhere in the state structures prevented him from getting social benefits as a handicapped person, and that the family cannot even afford the treatment of a sick child. He says that he is afraid of complaining, as does not want to risk the job of his relative who works in the municipality. He concluded that he does not want problems for his own “activity” too.
The diploma of the Islamic University. The students of the Baku Islamic University complain that their bachelor’s degrees are not recognized. First the University worked without a license but later the Ministry of Education issued it. Since then the students attended classes, paid education fees, passed exams, etc. But this year they claimed that their diplomas are not being recognized and even Masters’ degrees received after the graduation in the other Universities would not be recognized either. The students are appealing to the courts, but their cases are dragged by bureaucratic procedures.
March 8, 2021