Center for National and International Studies
“The administrative violence of the state, or administrative violence on behalf of the state, encroaches on the everyday lives of Azerbaijanis…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
According to doctor Adil Geybulla the health condition of Tofig Yagublu, the opposition leader who is on hunger strike, is stable, but there is a serious threat to his life. As Yagublu continues hunger strike, the number of those who joined the hunger strike in solidarity with him increased and reached 16 people.
New charges have been brought against activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev who is also on hunger strike.
According to article 221.2.2 of the Criminal Code (Hooliganism-when it is committed by resisting a representative of the authorities or another person performing the task of protecting public order or preventing the violation of public order), Hajiyev faces imprisonment for up to three years. Hajiyev does not accept the accusation and considers his arrest politically motivated.
Meanwhile, the office of the organization Caspian Forum led by Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was shut down. According to human rights activist Rufat Safarov, “Defense Line” human rights organization and “Legal Initiatives Center” headed by activist Ziya Guliyev were also removed from their offices in Caspian Plaza, where Hajiyev’s organization was located too.
Commenting on political arrests, exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that the regime continues its repressive policies. “What is happening is the continuation of repressions. Aliyev uses all means to destroy the existing democratic institutions in the country. Opposition party members, leaders, and political and social activists are arrested, kidnapped, and insulted, political migrants are terrorized, and reactionary changes are made to the laws on political parties and the press. Aliyev is waging a full-blown war, and there is a little resistance.”
Journalist exiled in France, Ganimat Zahid argued that the regime deliberately creates a society that is unable to voice even a minor criticism or discuss politics. Zahid: “Living in Azerbaijan is very scary and it will be even more so. Walking forward thinking that the sound behind you might be a source of danger, is not only carrying fear on your back like a shadow but also an unnecessary moral burden. Living with the fear that the state you are a citizen of can always spread some kind of evil is a heavy burden for one’s imagination and outlook. A society is being created in Azerbaijan that should be afraid of what to say, how to write, and even what to think. They take advantage of all administrative opportunities to turn Azerbaijanis into a society that chooses the shortage of thinking. The administrative violence of the state, or administrative violence on behalf of the state, encroaches on the everyday lives of Azerbaijanis. Any hunger strike requires a motive based on inner belief, reinforced by inner psychological arguments. That’s why Tofig Yagublu chose hunger striking to death. The determination, sacrifice, and heroism of the person who thinks that someone should sacrifice himself to restore the public dignity that is disappearing and being destroyed. I understand him.”
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli said that “the regime must understand that to destroy Tofig Yagublu‘s life will inevitably create a political crisis in the country.”
The European Union calls for the release of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Tofig Yagublu. Lead spokesperson for the external affairs of the EU Peter Strano tweeted that the EU is concerned by the detention of human rights defenders and political activists. Statement by the spokesperson on the detention of human rights defenders and political activists: “The European Union is concerned by the detention of human rights defenders and political activists Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Tofig Yagublu as well as the recent extension of the pre-trial detention terms of Elchin Sadigov and Avaz Zeynalli. We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to release those who are imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights and to lift restrictions against Elchin Sadiqov. The EU remains committed to continue the dialogue and cooperation on human rights with Azerbaijan and to promote democratic reforms.”
The salary of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of Azerbaijan has been increased by the decree of president Aliyev. In addition, the commissioner will be paid an additional salary in the amount of 1.65 times the monthly salary. The Ombudsman will receive 3060 manats per month while the amount of minimum monthly salary in the country is 345 manats. In Azerbaijan, which is one of the countries where human rights are violated the most, the Ombudsman is often criticized by local and international human rights organizations.
Governance and Corruption
According to the decree signed by President Ilham Aliyev on January 13, the monthly salaries of managers and other employees working in a number of organizations financed by the state budget have been increased by an average of 15 percent starting from January 1 this year. By another order of the head of state, the number of pensions and allowances have also increased. In some categories, the increase is about 10 percent, and in others, it is up to 50 percent. In response to the question from the ITV reporter, Aliyev said that “about 60,000 families receive targeted social benefits from the state, and the amount of this assistance increases every year.” The allowance per family this year is approximately 460 manats. Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the figures presented by the president are an indication of the increase of social problems in the country. Ibadoghlu’s Facebook post: First, targeted social assistance is provided to low-income families, and secondly, the amount of these benefits is determined by the difference between the family’s income and the threshold of need. This means that the increase in targeted social assistance per family is not only related to the increase of the threshold of need, but also related to the decrease of the family’s income. Therefore, the increase in the number of recipients of targeted social assistance from the state in Azerbaijan is an indicator of the rise in the number of the poor, and the increase in the amount of targeted social aid per family is an indicator of the deepening of poverty. In short, Ilham Aliyev unknowingly admitted that the government’s social policy is terrible and exposed the government’s failing economic policy.”
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli also criticized the government’s social policy, saying that increasing the pensions only by a few percent is an insult. “Increasing the “presidential pensions” of the families of martyrs and war veterans by a penny is disrespectful to those persons and shows the cruelty of the government. In a country where real inflation is 40-45 percent per year, the presidential pension of war veterans and martyr families has been increased by only 10-20 percent. Let me remind you that Azerbaijan profited 20 billion manats last year only from oil and gas revenues, that is, without doing anything. They really don’t respect the people. They treat the people not as people, but as subjects who are obliged to obey the regime.”
After Vasif Talibov resigned from the position of the head of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, his family members and close relatives in high positions were also dismissed from their jobs. Journalist Habib Muntazir reported that Talibov was also dismissed from the chairmanship of the New Azerbaijan Party in AR, which he has chaired since 1995.
January 17, 2023