Center for National and International Studies
“The fact that 281 people were tortured and treated inhumanely proves that torture is a state policy in this country.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Azadlig Newspaper reports that during the re-investigation of the Tartar crimes by the Prosecutor General’s Office, another 163 people were identified as victims of torture. According to the prosecutor’s office, 281 people were subjected to torture and inhuman treatment. Head of APFP Ali Karimli reacted to the statement by the Prosecutor General’s Office, saying that as long as Ilham Aliyev is in power, such crimes will not be completely solved. “I do not believe that high-ranking officials who are responsible for these crimes will be brought to justice”, said Karimli. Karimli also added that “the fact that 281 people were tortured and treated inhumanely proves that torture is a state policy in this country.”
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu shared his opinion on the developments of the Tartar case, saying that there should be a serious public reaction to the ongoing trials. Yagublu wrote: There are high-ranking officers recently arrested in connection with the Tartar case. Of course, this does not mean that the investigation will identify and bring to justice all the culprits. The above-mentioned main perpetrators and officials responsible for the horrific crime still sit comfortably. It is a shame that a terrible crime of this magnitude has taken place in our country, and society has been talking about this issue for years, but the country’s legal system has not done its job properly. It was only after the case reached the international level that they began to worry and reconsider it after the demands of the West. That is why Ilham Aliyev is conducting anti-Western propaganda. In his last meeting with the youth, he also slandered the West.”
Governance, corruption, transparency
President Ilham Aliyev has approved the Law on Media. The law states that in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, this law provides for the organization, legal and economic basis of the activities in the field of media, as well as access to, preparation, and transmission of mass information. The law also determines the general rules of production and distribution of news. The critics believe that the law would bring further limitations to media freedom. The new media law applies to media entities established in the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic, editorial offices, their products, as well as all media entities outside the Azerbaijan Republic whose activities are aimed at the territory and population of the Azerbaijan Republic. Activists believe that the new law will give exclusive powers to government agencies to control the entire media sector, including social media, make the work of journalists extremely difficult, and restrict the financial and legal activities of media outlets.
Opposition politician Tofig Yagublu argued that new media law wouldn’t help the government to prevent the truth from being spread. Yagublu wrote: If Ilham Aliyev thinks that this will prevent journalists from writing, speaking, and showing corruption, as well as his other illegal actions, he must know that it is a hopeless attempt. Disclosure of information cannot be prevented. If you don’t want that to happen, you just have to do your job properly.”
Activist Ilkin Rustamzade reacted to the new media law arguing that in the long run, it will create more problems for society. Rustamzade wrote: social media is the only platform for critical voices, and taking it away from us should be a problem for society as well as for us as activists. There are some ways available to the government to prevent what we write from reaching people. But if society does not care, there is nothing we can do.”
Investigative journalist in exile Afgan Mukhtarli argued that the so-called opposition parties have a shared responsibility for adapting new media law. According to Mukhtarli, as part of the dialogue with the opposition and reforms, the new media law came into force. “The parties that joined the dialogue with the government agreed to adopt bans on journalism and social media”, said Mukhtarli.
A group of opposition politicians and activists shared a statement condemning the new legislation. The statement reads: “A government that does not comply with its obligations to international organizations, ignores the call of the EU Commissioner for Human Rights, and ridicules the demands and recommendations of the OSCE and the Council of Europe on fundamental human rights cannot achieve normal relations with the civilized world and the European Union.”
The week was also marked by criticism of the chairman of ANAS Ramiz Mehdiyev in the pro-government media. Many believe that such widespread criticism of Mehdiyev stems from divisions within the government and the ruling elite’s desire to eliminate Soviet-era politicians. Chairman of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu argued that open criticism of Mehdiyev could hardly lead to his resignation. Ibadoghlu wrote: I think that by criticizing Ramiz Mehdiyev in the press (probably he will be insulted at a later stage), they will not be able to force him to resign. Even if they can achieve this, it will not solve the problem of Azerbaijani science. Who will replace him? Opening such a perspective for incompetent people who have benefited from regionalism all their lives means burying science.”
Rovnag Abdullayev has been relieved of his post as President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) by the decree signed by president Ilham Aliyev. By another presidential decree, Rovnag Abdullayev was appointed Deputy Minister of Economy. Until the appointment of the president of the SOCAR, the temporary execution of this position was entrusted to the First Vice-President Rovshan Chingiz oglu Najaf. Under the guise of reforms, the Azerbaijani president’s appointment of officials to various positions by simply changing their rankings has long been criticized by pro-opposition and independent observers and activists.
Economic and Social Issues
Guliyev Joshgun Shahin oglu, a resident of Salyan, born in 1995, set himself on fire in front of the Department of Forestation. He reportedly took this step in protest against the salary cut.
Reacting to the declining economy and rising prices, the chairman of APFP, Ali Karimli, called on his followers to be more active to change the situation. Karimli wrote: Why do we demand our payment from the driver who does not return the remaining kopecks, from the seller who deceived us by 1-2 manats, but remain silent about the corrupt people who plunder billions that belong to us? The first stage of true salvation is to be free from indifference, and the second stage is to be free from fear.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli shared a similar opinion arguing that there is a direct link between people’s indifference and the current economic situation. Gahramanli wrote: Our people do not want to get involved in politics, but the government politicizes the problems by not paying child support and artificially raising prices. By aggravating living conditions, they are openly forcing the people to get involved in politics and demand their rights.”
Post War Situation
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia is ready to restore automobile and railroad connections with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan added that proposals on the construction had been sent to the Azerbaijani side, and if Azerbaijan responds positively, the Armenian side will begin to restore roads. Moreover, PM Pashinyan said that the remains of 108 people who went missing during the First Karabakh War were handed over to Azerbaijan, and the remains of two more bodies will be returned in the coming days.”
In Goranboy, veteran Hasanov Sardar Rustam oglu set himself on fire in front of the building of the executive power. He is currently in intensive care at the Goranboy hospital, and his condition is serious. According to Azadliq newspaper, Hasanov attempted suicide to protest the deteriorating social and economic situation due to rising prices.
February 11, 2022