Center for National and International Studies
“The Azerbaijani government is committing all kinds of illegal acts in order to prevent the open trial of the deported migrants it has arrested under false pretenses.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The chairperson of the Citizen and Progress Party, political prisoner Ali Aliyev has started a hunger strike. Aliyev was sentenced to five months in prison on trumped-up charges. His detention was later extended for another month on another charge. As a protest against the extension of the detention period for several more months, Aliyev started a hunger strike. Opposition leader Ali Karimli and many other activists believe that the charges against Ali Aliyev are fabricated and that the arrest is politically motivated.
Toplum TV correspondents Vusala Mikayil and Nuray Kamal faced violence while covering the forced eviction of an entrepreneur from a shop in the Yasamal district. A man named Vusal, who introduced himself as an executive representative, offered a bribe to the correspondents. Journalists who came to the Housing and Communal Services Department No. 21 were offered a bribe, and when they refused, the man seized Mikayil’s phone and fled. According to the journalists, they have video and audio recordings of both the demolition and the bribe offer.
Imprisoned chairman of the Muslim Union Movement Taleh Bagirzadeh has launched a hunger strike against the insult to Allah at police stations. Other detained members of the union, Abbas Huseyn and Jabbar Jabbarov, as well as journalist Polad Aslanov, joined the strike. Interior Ministry spokesman Ehsan Zahidov called the allegations slanderous. He said that the police treat all religions with respect and dignity.
Journalist Seymur Hezi reported that the police interrupted the meeting of the members of the Popular Front Party in a tea house. The police asked the members of the party who were gathered to have tea about the reason for the meeting. According to Hezi, “this incident alone is enough to prove that there is no political competition in the country and that Aliyev spoke to his rivals in police language.” The APFP does not have any regional office or headquarters and its members’ meetings get interrupted by the police.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev said that despite his complaints, the persons who have abducted and tortured him have not been brought to justice. Hajiyev wrote: “the Ministry of Internal Affairs Eyvazov must admit that he is not competent for this position. If he thinks otherwise, he should order, find, punish, and show that neither the crimes committed at the Main Police Department nor when I was abducted were committed on his instructions.”
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has today started discussing the implementation of the European Court’s decisions on Azerbaijan. There are two groups of cases on the agenda – the cases of Khadija Ismayil and Anar Mammadli. Journalist Khadija Ismayil said that “the government is not taking any steps on the general part of the decisions, even quite contrary worsened the situation.”
The trial of three political refugees arrested after deportation from Germany was held in Baku on Wednesday. Sumgayit Court of Grave Crimes, chaired by Judge Hafiz Aliyev held a preliminary hearing on the trial of Mutallim Orujov, who was arrested after deportation from Germany. On the same day, Baku Court of Grave Crimes held a preliminary hearing on the case of Jafar Mirzayev, who was arrested upon being deported from Germany. According to lawyer Nemat Karimli, Jafar Mirzayev participated in the trial and pleaded not guilty. Moreover, a preliminary hearing on the case of another deported activist Punhan Karimli was held in the Baku Court of Grave Crimes. Journalists and activists were not allowed into the courtroom. Exiled Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that “the Azerbaijani government is committing all kinds of illegal acts in order to prevent the open trial of the deported migrants it has arrested under false pretenses.”
Mutallim Orujov, Malik Rzayev, Jafar Mirzayev, Punhan Karimli, who were deported from Germany, were arrested on charges of drug trafficking, and Samir Ashurov was arrested on charges of causing grievous bodily harm to a citizen. Another deported activist, Ziya Ibrahimov, who was administratively arrested for a month, has been charged again. Journalist Rashad Ramazanov, who has been living as an immigrant in Georgia since 2019 and returned to Azerbaijan in February this year, was also arrested on drug charges. He was declared a prisoner of conscience by international organizations. According to Mukhtarli, Deutsche Botschaft Baku / The German embassy in Baku did not take part in any of the three trials, despite claims that they were monitoring the trials. Mukhtarli also wrote: “The German government bears legal and moral responsibility for every immigrant deported from Germany and arrested in Azerbaijan. Germany has extradited political activists whose lives are in danger in violation of international conventions. Now that the issue of Ukraine is urgent, the issue of political migrants arrested in Baku has faded into the background. But rest assured that this issue will not remain in the background. Each of the arrests was personally ordered by Ilham Aliyev. In his speeches, Ilham Aliyev repeatedly targeted political immigrants. He kidnapped political migrants, arrested them through corrupt Interpol officials, and conspired against them. Freedom for all political prisoners!”
Governance, Transparency and Corruption
Foreign Policy Advisor to President Aliyev, Hikmet Hajiyev is visiting the United States. According to the official media, Hajiyev traveled to the United States to discuss the ongoing peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the peace process between the two countries. However, according to the opposition leaders, one of the main reasons for Hajiyev’s visit to Washington is the further discussions on the situation of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan. Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that the pro-governmental media doesn’t disclose further details of the visit as it might cause public discussions. Gahramanli wrote: “In recent months, US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have raised three issues in their messages to Ilham Aliyev. One is peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the other two are democratic reforms that ensure the realization of citizens’ constitutional rights and the need to distance Azerbaijan from Russia. It is clear that the Azerbaijani government does not want the public to know what issues it agreed to discuss at this meeting. The government is worried that knowing this could further strengthen the demands for democracy and freedom in society. Therefore, they try to keep the process as confidential as possible, to keep it under control.”
Journalist Habib Muntezir reports that the properties of Major-General Movlam Shikhaliyev, former head of the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of National Security, who was awarded the Medal “For the Motherland” and the Order “For Service to the Motherland” by Ilham Aliyev, have been seized. The list of properties includes expensive apartments and facilities in the center of Baku, a country house with an apartment of more than 1,000 square meters in Novkhani and dozens of other real estates. The confiscated properties belong to the family members of Shikaliyev, his wife Aybaniz Shikhaliyeva, his son Elgun Shikhaliyev, who worked as an operational officer at the Main Police Department for Transport, his daughter Samira Aliyeva and other relatives.
Chairperson of the NCDF Jamil Hasanli compared the Formula 1 games in Baku with the Soviet government’s decision to build pig farms in the Muslim villages of Azerbaijan. Hasanli wrote: “Organizing Formula 1 races in Baku reminds the Soviet government’s plans to set up a pig farm in the Muslim villages of Azerbaijan. The first pig farms were opened in Seyidlar village in Khachmaz region. It was the first time that the farmers had to breed an animal that they have not consumed or bred before, as it was forbidden by Islam. However, they had to so that Nikita Khrushchev could reach the USA and even pass it for pork production. Today, not only the Azerbaijani team but also there is not a single Azerbaijani athlete that takes part in the Formula 1 races, which has annoyed the residents of Baku. Ilham Aliyev is hosting a sports event in which the country’s athletes do not participate. Not only the drivers but also their cars were brought to Baku at the expense of Azerbaijan. Contestants are accommodated at the expense of the government in hotels (of course, belonging to the Aliyev family) in a country where the veterans are in need of support. Needless to say, how the people are fed up with all these. At least in the 60s and 70s, pig farms were located outside the settlements. Now, this Formula 1 is taking place right in the center of the city, where concrete fortifications are built, which reminds a sort of military unit. All schools that are located on the routes where races are taking place have been closed, and classes have been suspended. The comfort of millions of people has been disturbed.”
Opposition leader Tofig Yagublu said that hosting Formula 1 games in Baku is a deliberate decision by president Aliyev to torture the residents of Baku. Yagublu wrote: I say with full confidence that Ilham Aliyev organizes Formula 1 races in Baku in order to humiliate, ridicule, and torture our people. When you look at the depressing and humiliating traffic jams in the city, there is no other explanation.”
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the monopoly of the Ministry of Finance over the state budget is increasing. Ibadoghlu wrote: “The monopoly of the executive power, especially the Ministry of Finance, on the implementation of the budget is getting stronger every year. This Ministry manages the budget as it pleases, increases one-time (those that they don’t declare to the parliament) expenditures, prioritizes them, disproportionately spends the budget on months and quarters, and provides subsidies and loans to any government agency without justification. In short, the Ministry of Finance is grossly violating budget discipline in Azerbaijan, spending funds without complying with the norms of the law, and does not comment on cases where there is a discrepancy between the actual figures and the approved figures in the financing of expenditures. Despite the fact that the legislation does not define the conditions for the issuance of budget loans, as well as it is not provided for in the approved state budget for 2021, the Ministry of Finance has allocated 276.2 million from last year’s budget to some government agencies. The Chamber of Accounts uncovered this illegal act by the Ministry of Finance. However, the Chamber of Accounts did not disclose how much was given to each organization. The National Aviation Academy tops the list of organizations receiving budget loans only in the table published by the Chamber. By the way, the National Aviation Academy received a subsidy of 12.9 million manats from last year’s budget, and 15.5 million manats from the 2020 budget under the COVID support program.”
June 10, 2022