Center for National and International Studies
“The ruling family and their close circle have unofficially become the richest people in the world, and the rest of the people do not turn on the air conditioner in summer or the heater in winter so that they could save money for food…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Political Prisoner Saleh Rustamli‘s condition has deteriorated sharply as he has reached 34th of hunger strike. Family members reported that Rustamli (58) was taken under special care at the Medical Center within the prison.
Head of PFP Ali Karimli said that meanwhile, Rustamli’s health is declining, the authorities try their best to make it even worse. Until yesterday, Rustamli was kept alone in the cell. However, yesterday, another prisoner was placed next to Rustamli, and what is even worse, the new prisoner is provided with food three times a day to irritate Rustamli, who has been on hunger strike for 34 days. Karimli added that “our people must know how cruel are the people who enjoy the pain of others rule them.” Karimli concluded: our society sees that although Ilham Aliyev claims that he respects Karabakh veterans, however, in reality, being a Karabakh veteran has no value in his opinion. If being a Karabakh veteran and fighting for the Motherland meant something to Ilham Aliyev, he would not be indifferent to the fact that one of the heroic war veterans, Saleh Rustamli, is sentenced to death.
Journalist Afgan Muktarli reacted to the news saying that it is inhuman and, according to the law, a prisoner on a hunger strike should be isolated from the rest of the prisoners.
MP Vahid Ahmadov appealed to President Ilham Aliyev to release political prisoner Karabakh veteran Saleh Rustamli. Meanwhile, MP Etibar Aliyev has renounced his participation in the petition for the release of Saleh Rustamli, which he had previously signed.
The victims of the Tartar case and their families gathered in front of the Presidential Administration to demand a retrial and a re-investigation of allegations of torture against army men.
Although it has been more than five days since the perpetrators of the torture committed against opposition leader Tofig Yagublu has not been brought to justice, Yagublu reacted to the lack of investigation, saying that if it was not ordered by president Aliyev himself, there would be an investigation. Yagublu also called the argument that the violence against him was committed by the people who wanted to damage Aliyev’s reputation a nonsense.
Governance, corruption, transparency
A new investigation about the properties of Ilham Aliyev’s family and people close to them in London has been shared. It has been revealed that the ruling family bought properties in the UK between 1998-2020. The information was made public by Chatham House, a famous think tank in England. The document titled “The UK’s kleptocracy problem: How servicing post-Soviet elites weakens the rule of law” details how the elites from the post-Soviet successor states become a major source of clients for UK-based services firms and their money laundering activities.
Exiled journalist Ganimat Zayidov argued that the dictatorship in Azerbaijan was not established overnight, and it developed gradually, mostly thanks to “the elite of a law quality.” Zayidov wrote: The opposite of a political opportunist’s statement that “good things are done slowly” is also true: bad things are done slowly too. The dictatorship is not established in the country out of the blue. As the nation surrendered its positions, as it was forced to surrender, those positions were taken by the dictatorship. It is revolutions that suddenly turn the countries upside down. The dictatorship does the same, but gradually. That is the reverse revolution. As a society, we did not suddenly become hostages of “their majesty and excellencies”. They did it slowly: they created the “Azerbaijani elite” from the lowest quality materials; they appointed the most heinous persons in the public offices; they put the most shameless people in the most respected places; they created a “common Azerbaijani face” from the most unctuous, hideous people.”
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev criticized the current authoritarian regime calling it “a system of one-man government”. Hajiyev wrote: Imagine, for more than a month, thousands of intellectuals, activists, journalists, politicians in the country have sent appeals to the first and second persons of the country that the Karabakh veteran Saleh Rustamli, who was imprisoned for three years and went on a hunger strike for more than 30 days should be released. Now everyone has just one option, which is to sit and wait for one person to finally pick up the phone and say, “OK, let him go.” We didn’t have to live in such a country… We have to understand that we have to change the system of a one-man government. One day, a system controlled by one person can knock on everyone’s door…”
Post War Situation. Problems of veterans and families of the martyrs
The Azerbaijani soldier Asif Adil oglu Aliyev was killed on December 8 near Kalbajar region.
Azadlig newspaper shared a video in which police officers acted violently against a war veteran who attempted suicide on the subway. The newspaper reports that the veteran was not paid for three months. In another video shared by Azadlig, a war veteran who had several serious injuries complained about the lack of support and respect.
Police intervened in the ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of martyr Tabriz Namazov, who lost his life in the Second Karabakh War. A resident of Seyfali village of Shamkir brought a drone to the Alley of Martyrs to shoot the ceremony. However, the police detained him. He was released only later, as this caused outrage among the villagers.
Azadlig newspaper reports that the authorities demolished the house of Aliyev Huseyn Siran oglu, a Karabakh veteran, resident of Mustafabayli village, Saatli region, and left him homeless.
Economy and Social Issues
Historian professor Altay Goyushov drew attention to the huge gap between the incomes comparing the current situation with the soviet era. Goyushov wrote: During the USSR, the gross domestic product was largely distributed equally among the entire population. I’m not saying that there was no rich or poor. There was, of course. However, the difference between incomes, the difference between rich and poor was not as big as it is now. Now the situation is that all the gross domestic product of the country is in the hands of a minor group of people. This small group is ultra-rich, while the vast majority is ultra-poor. While many Azerbaijanis live as refugees in Germany, the oligarchs buy property in Berlin. The ruling family and their close circle have unofficially become the richest people in the world, and the rest of the people do not turn on the air conditioner in summer or the heater in winter so that they could save money for food.”
Member of PFP, Fuad Gahramanli, touched upon “mass illiteracy and ignorance in the country.” Gahramanli argued that the arbitrary acts of government have a lot to do with the indifference and ignorance of the people. Gahramanli wrote: Sometimes I watch TV channels interviewing the residents of Baku. It is such a sad situation. People have difficulty expressing their opinions not only because their vocabulary is limited, but also, they have no idea what to say. This is a sign of mass illiteracy and ignorance. In a country of 10 million people, a book by Nobel Prize-winning authors has a print run of only 500 copies. The vast majority of the people do not read a book not only once a year, not even once in their lives. They do not watch Internet TVs or the speeches of politicians who talk about the real issue of the country. Instead, they watch cheap gossip shows or useless videos on social media. Considering all these, the situation should be as it is now. Why should the government be afraid of such an indifferent and passive people?”
Reacting to the current situation in Azerbaijan, exiled journalist Ganimat Zayidov shared a poignant post on FB. His post reads: Azerbaijan is an orphan country, and Azerbaijani people is an orphan nation. A country without a state is an orphan country. A nation that cannot own its state is an orphan nation. This orphan nation thinks that people who claim to own its land is the state. This nation has no one to voice its problems, and its elite is impostor, is a fake elite, a class of deceivers.”
December 10, 2021