Center for National and International Studies
“There is no state, only a group of criminals who seized power and controls the country by mafia rules.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Journalist Ayten Mammadova held a press conference. Mammadova said that there is no reason to argue that there are personal grounds for the knife attack on her. According to the journalist, “what happened is definitely related to her professional activity.”
Human rights activists and journalists demanded that the police properly investigate the incident and identify the persons who attacked Mammadova. Human rights activists stated that what happened to activists and journalists in recent history should be investigated, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu wrote in his social media post that the police have not yet conducted a medical examination on Mammadova, and they deliberately delay the examination. According to Yagublu, the police are waiting for the knife marks on Mammadova’s throat to disappear completely so there would not be evidence.
The National Council of Democratic Forces issued a statement regarding the armed attack on journalist Ayten Mammadova and the recent increase in violence against human rights defenders and activists. The statement reads: “Recently, we are facing obvious events that indicate that the state authorities of Azerbaijan are either helpless in the face of elements of the criminal mafia and lose their functionality, or transferred power to the criminal mafia management. As the National Council of Democratic Forces, we demand that the Azerbaijani government investigate the criminal act against journalist Ayten Mammadova – the knife attack – and punish the perpetrators. As the National Council, we call on international organizations to openly and loudly condemn the Azerbaijani government for the deplorable state of human rights and, in particular, media freedom in the country and demand that it fulfill its international obligations.”
PACE Monitoring Committee rapporteur on Azerbaijan Stefan Shennak commented on the attack on journalist Ayten Mammadova saying that he was shocked to hear this news. “We will investigate this issue as a PACE rapporteur,” told Shennak to the VOA.
Civil society representatives, activists, and journalists announced that they would hold a peaceful rally to protest against the recent crimes, increasing violence, and impunity against prominent public figures in Azerbaijan. “We believe that these crimes are not the last, and if we do not protest as a society, more serious crimes, including political assassinations, will occur,” said the statement by the rally organizers. The peaceful protest march is expected to take place in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on May 14, 2022, starting from 15:00 at Fountain Square.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev said that the government had been propagating for two days that the march was organized by the West, the 5th column, the traditional opposition with a hope that this would prevent mass participation. However, according to Hajiyev, young entrepreneurs, students, and people from various backgrounds have already shared solidarity with the activists. “There is one thing that everyone says, and it is that we do not want us and our children to live in a criminal state,” said Hajiyev. Hajiyev, who was abducted and tortured by masked men a few weeks ago, said in his Facebook post that “there is no state, only a group of criminals who seized power and controls the country by mafia rules.” The rest of Hajiyev’s post read: “Where there is no state, one day anyone can be a victim of a mafia. Saying “I’m not involved in politics”, “I’m living my life with my head down” doesn’t insure anyone. If there is no protest against the crimes committed against activists today, tomorrow there will be no one left to voice the voices of ordinary citizens, and the mafia will destroy individual citizens, threatening their children and lives. Like in the mafia games. That’s why everyone should make their own judgment. Where do we go, how do we live, do we live at all? We need to silence the people who tell the tales of “statehood,” and we must work together to build a state. A state that serves justice, provides equal conditions for all, the rule of law, and where people live freely and safely.”
Azad Soz reports that veteran of the Second Karabakh War Gadir Jafarov cut his arm with a razor in the building of the Disability Assessment Center. As a result of the police intervention, the razor gas was confiscated, and an ambulance was called to the Center. According to Azad Soz, Gadir Jafarov, who took part in the Second Karabakh War and became disabled, repeatedly protested in front of the relevant authorities, demanding disability status and pension.
A group of veterans gathered in front of the Disability Rehabilitation Center, complaining about the negligence of the relevant authorities. According to them, a veteran who could not get his disability status committed suicide a few days ago in front of the Center.
Unknown persons in Istanbul wrote “Happy Slave Holiday” on the statue of the former president and father of the current president, Heydar Aliyev, on his birthday (May 10). According to the journalist Afgan Muktarli, the name of late activist Bayram Mammadov written at the foot of the pedestal suggests that the rally was dedicated to Mammadov, a former political prisoner who mysteriously died in Istanbul last year. Bayram Mammadov together with activist Giyas Ibrahimov, were arrested in Baku in 2016 for writing “Happy Slave Holiday” on the statue of Heydar Aliyev on his birthday, which was celebrated as Flower Holiday in Azerbaijan. Both activists known as “graffiti prisoners” were sentenced to 10 years each on trumped-up charges. Amnesty International has recognized them as prisoners of conscience, and in 2019 they were releaed after growing demand by international organizations.
Governance and Corruption
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had a phone call with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The spokesperson of the State Department, Ned Price tweeted that Secretary Antony Blinken spoke with Aliyev “about the next steps on Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s path to peace, protecting human rights, and Azerbaijan’s role in European energy security.” According to the website of the State Department, the Secretary also highlighted the importance of increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, in the Azerbaijani state press releases, the part on human rights was removed. Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the official statement from Azerbaijan removed the issue of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and instead included congratulations on the 99th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev. Ibadoghlu said that at the time of grave human rights violations against activists and journalists, such an act by the state media is regrettable.
May 13, 2022