Center for National and International Studies
“This government is alien to its people; it does not feel a need to understand the pain and listen to the cries of its people…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms
Human rights defender Abid Gafarov addressed the UN hearings on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, presenting his report on the “Tartar case” and shedding light on the torture inflicted upon soldiers. The “Tartar case,” also known as the Terter massacre, involves large-scale torture of Azerbaijani military personnel accused of treason in 2017, following the Nagorno-Karabakh war in April 2016. Human rights defenders assert that over 400 individuals were subjected to torture during the case. The Azerbaijani government claims one fatality, while human rights advocates argue the number is around 13, with many facing wrongful convictions and severe prison sentences. Despite four years of government denial, Azerbaijan began investigating the case in 2021, leading to various trials and prison sentences for some perpetrators. However, a comprehensive investigation of the entire case is yet to be conducted. The Tartar case is considered the largest instance of mass torture in Azerbaijan’s post-Soviet history, deriving its name from the Tartar district, where servicemen were taken and tortured during interrogations. Gafarov shared his speech on the “Tartar case” and asked his followers to share.
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu remarked that in Azerbaijan, instead of holding the government accountable, there is a trend of rewarding the perpetrators of the heinous Tartar crimes. He noted the persistent efforts by the Prosecutor General’s Office to conceal and protect Tartar criminals. Orujlu highlighted that on Victory Day, four out of the five generals honored with orders by Ilham Aliyev are the perpetrators of the Tartar mass torture, and they were prominently featured in the Victory Parade. He expressed concern that these criminals might be intended for use against the entire population of Azerbaijan. Orujlu questioned the rationale behind turning them into “heroes” in the eyes of the people when the real heroes are discredited and forgotten. He suggested that this exceptional treatment of Tartar executioners, who tortured and killed the martyrs and veterans, indicates a nefarious agenda by the regime, possibly signaling the potential for similar activities.
The opening of a barn featuring almost luxurious conditions for goats in Lachin has sparked discussions on social media. Videos and photos circulating online reveal an opulent barn equipped with amenities, including a piano, with goats elegantly placed on either side. Numerous individuals have highlighted the striking contrast between the lavish accommodations for goats and the substandard apartment buildings constructed for settlers in Lachin. Many of the previous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were provided new homes in Lachin have reportedly had to return to Baku due to the inadequately constructed buildings.
Commenting on the ironic situation, the charperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli said that it is the manifestation of the utter disrespect of the government for its own citizens. Karimli: Do you think there can be a nation on earth that supports a government that values them less than a goat? Certainly not. People have consciousness, unlike goats, and they understand that a government that does not value the citizens of its country as much as it values a goat cannot be its government. This government is alien to its people; it does not feel a need to understand the pain and listen to the cries of its people. Therefore, anyone who says “the people love this government” is insulting the people. What do they mean? It means that our people have lost their sense of self-respect and instead love a group of exploiters who treat them with less consideration than goats. Our people have lost a lot. However, I am sure that they have not lost their sense of self-respect and dignity. One day, they will definitely demand an account from those who do not value them as much as a goat.”
Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli shared a similar opinion, adding that the silence of the masses paved the way for the current situation. He wrote: “How come goats in this country receive more respect and consideration than humans? Because if you do not feed and take care of these respectable goats, they will not give any profit to their owner. However, they (authorities) are sure that even if they do not feed the citizens of Azerbaijan and do not take care of them, they can still exploit them, violate their rights, and loot the country. That’s why the difference arises. Therefore, goats are considered more valuable. Also, since those who run the country do not regard people as their own, they take care of their goats, dogs, and cats and provide better conditions for them.”
The challenging conditions faced by Azerbaijani youth employed in the Guzdak stone quarry have gained attention on TikTok. Numerous social media users have raised concerns about the apparent inefficiency of the country’s labor inspectorate and Ministry of Social Security, especially given the country’s substantial oil revenues. Murad Sultanli of Azadliq newspaper highlights that the public shares responsibility for this situation. He contends that the failure to demand or protest against these conditions reflects the public’s inability to challenge the corrupt regime entrenched in bribery and corruption at every level.
Governance and Corruption
Journalist Seymur Hezi addressed the contentious construction projects in Karabakh, raising concerns about the transparency of government expenditures. Hezi emphasized the need to resolve the issue of privatization and shared lands in regions liberated from occupation. Hezi: Who owns these cultivated lands in regions freed from occupation?. Who authorized or sold them to the companies? How does the government intend to reinstate the rights of 1 million displaced people?”
Tofig Yagublu, a member of the National Council of Democratic Forces, asserted that any construction undertaken by Ilham Aliyev serves the purpose of facilitating corruption scheme. In his statement, Yagublu emphasized that Aliyev’s construction projects are driven by corruption. According to him, if corruption is present in a construction project, the resulting buildings are likely to be of inferior quality. Yagublu pointed to the subpar condition of individual houses for settlers in Lachin, constructed just four months ago at a cost three to four times their actual value. He suggested that had a third of that budget been given directly to the settlers, they could have built a much higher-quality house. Yagublu criticized Aliyev, stating that he not only refrains from reprimanding anyone for the poor quality of these overpriced houses but also entrusts further construction projects to the same company, thereby perpetuating corruption at the helm.
During his meeting with Ilham Aliyev in Tashkent, President of Iran Ibrahim Raisi expressed the following sentiment: “We are delighted that, after many years, Karabakh has returned to its historic owner. This is territory is of Azerbaijan, which has successfully restored its territorial integrity. We look forward to the reconstruction and restoration of Karabakh and stand ready to provide our services, including in the engineering and technical fields.” President Ilham Aliyev, in his speech, asserted that those attempting to disrupt the amicable relations between Iran and Azerbaijan would not succeed in achieving their goals.
The Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan shared information about the unfortunate death of 20-year-old sergeant Lior Azizov, an Israeli citizen of Azerbaijani origin, in a battle with Hamas on October 7. Lior served in the Golani brigade. Tragically, Lior’s father, Timur, fell victim to a terrorist attack in Israel in 2005 and died due to physical and mental injuries five years later. Furthermore, Lior’s grandfather, Vahid Azizov, heroically lost his life during the First Karabakh War in 1992 and was laid to rest in the Alley of Martyrs. The embassy expressed deep sorrow for the three generations of pain and loss within the Azizov family, extending condolences and wishing the souls of Lior and other departed family members eternal peace.
While on a diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov affirmed Azerbaijan’s commitment to providing ongoing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. He stated that Azerbaijan aims to strengthen its involvement in this collaborative effort by establishing a Representative Office in the State of Palestine, specifically in Ramallah.
Following the suspension of operations due to protests from the Soyudlu community, the gold mine is set to recommence activity. The Azerbaijani government has granted permission to Anglo Asian Mining of Great Britain to resume operations in the Gadabey gold field. Upon the announcement of the production resumption, the company’s shares experienced a notable surge of 42 percent. The company has affirmed its commitment to enhancing operations, incorporating measures identified in an environmental audit conducted by the independent consulting company “Micon International Ltd.” An action plan protocol has been signed with the government of Azerbaijan.
November 14, 2023