Center for National and International Studies
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Mehriban Abdurahmanli, the mother of Subhan Mahir oglu Abdurahmanli, who was martyred in the battles for Fizuli and awarded the medals “For Courage” and “For the Motherland,” told Azadliq newspaper that her house was demolished by the order of chief executive of Shamkir district. Abdurahmanli said: “After my son was killed, one of the people who offered their support gave me land, and I managed to build a hut to have a roof over my head. Sabunchu’s chief executive Adil Valiyev told me that if I build it, he will demolish it.”
Meydan TV reports that a business person in Shamkir named Arzu Jabbarov has died as a result of a confrontation with the police, and the murder was misreported as a suicide. Allegedly, Shamkir police arranged a private meeting of Jabbarov with a woman, and secretly recorded their privet moments to later blackmail Jabbarov. When Jabbarov refused to pay the money asked, a fight broke out between him and the police officers, and as a result, Jabbarov’s arm was cut. He died shortly after due to severe blood loss. According to the official information, he allegedly tried to beat the woman and committed suicide.
Two people were detained in Istanbul on May 10 for writing “Happy Slave Holiday” on the statue of former president Heydar Aliyev. They are accused of “inciting hatred.” In 2016 two activists, Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov were arrested in Baku for writing “Happy Slave Holiday” on the statue of Heydar Aliyev on his birthday, which was celebrated as the Flower Holiday in Azerbaijan. Both activists known as “graffiti prisoners” were sentenced to 10 years each on trumped-up charges. Mammadov was reported dead in Istanbul in May 2021. The cause of his death remains mysterious.
“Anti Criminal State” Rally held in Baku
A rally under the slogan “We do not want a criminal state!” was held by activists in central Baku on Saturday. The rally participants ended their march with the reading of the statement in front of the Interior Ministry. 27 people were detained during the protest but were released later.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reported that during the rally in downtown Baku on Saturday, the police used violence against the civilians who attended the rally. Hajiyev‘s social media post read: “Although we protested against the police brutality, in some cases, the police could not give up their old habits and beat up Zaur Akbar. Individual activists were punched, pushed away, and female participants were ill-treated.” Hajiyev also added that despite everything, the rally ended successfully. “We chanted our slogans, read our statement, and delivered our voices to law enforcement agencies and the political authorities,” said Hajiyev. Hajiyev concluded his post by saying that they will continue their fight until the perpetrators of violence are punished. “We have conveyed that we do not and will not remain silent about crimes against activists and journalists. The issue will remain on the agenda until customers and executors are found and punished. We also repeated that we do not want a mafia state, we do not want a police state, we do not want a criminal state.”
Discussing the rally in central Baku on Saturday, the chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that “at least certain people in the government began to understand that the process of global democratization stands on the borders of Azerbaijan, that the democratization of the South Caucasus is inevitable, and that no military force can prevent this process”. According to Karimli, what is more important is that Azerbaijani society’s hopes for radical democratic change are restored. Karimli wrote: “People are tired of 29 years of family rule, tired of corruption, lawlessness, injustice, and poverty. Our people are thirsty for freedom and justice, and they want to see a government in Azerbaijan that is elected by the people, can be changed by the people, and serves the people. Achieving this means going through a peaceful struggle with the participation of all of us.” Ali Karimli also said that “the change is inevitable in Azerbaijan, and it is in the interests of both the people and the government for the change to take place peacefully and democratically.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that Saturday’s rally should be considered “as an announcement that the new rules in politics are replacing the old ones.” Gahramanli wrote: As a rule, the Azerbaijani government has always violently dispersed protests not only in Fountain Square but also anywhere in the city, trying to create fear in society. This time it did not happen. The different behavior of the police during the rally was not the result of a change in the thinking of Ilham Aliyev, his team, or his views on politics. We have repeatedly written here that the new geopolitical realities created by Russia’s defeat in Ukraine will definitely have an impact on Azerbaijan’s domestic policy. That is the effect, Putin is no longer protected, and the government is forced to withdraw from traditional methods of violence. Because the authorities know very well that if they continue to do the same, it will provoke a severe reaction at the international level, and the sanctions may follow.” Gahramanli also said that the authorities should take this rally as a warning signal from the public, and those who commit violence against political activists and members of the media should be brought to justice immediately. “Today’s rally can also be considered an announcement that the day when hundreds of thousands of people will take to the street is not far away,” concluded Gahramanli.
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the current state of police brutality and arbitrary arrests is the result of president Aliyev’s encouragement and full support of the police. Ibadoghlu wrote: “Organized crime is rampant in the country, and thieves, robbers, criminals, and murderers are not punished. The responsibility for this lies primarily with President Ilham Aliyev, who has given so much power to the police in the administration. Speaking at a ceremony dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Azerbaijani police at the Police Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on July 2, 2013, Ilham Aliyev said, “I appreciate the work done, and you know that I have always defended and will defend the police.” Although the former minister, deputy minister, chief of staff, deputies, chief executive, ambassador, customs officer, tax officer, judge, security officer, and military serviceman have been punished for corruption, the police have not been warned about abuse of power, bribes, or torture. Ilham Aliyev once again took the floor and showed that he has established a police regime in Azerbaijan, which does not try to ensure the safety of people and find criminals but to turn Azerbaijan into a dangerous and risky country by protecting criminals and impunity.”
Director of Baku Research Institute historian Altay Goyushov reacted to the rally in central Baku, saying that thanks to young people in Azerbaijan, the authoritarian government was not successful in silencing everyone. Goyushov wrote: “In any case, this rally shows that despite all the repressions, frauds, corruption of the Aliyev government and its efforts to bribe international organizations, domestic and foreign politicians, it has not yet been possible to turn Azerbaijan into Turkmenistan. The miserable class of Azerbaijani “intellectuals” who receive honorary titles and medals from the YAP government should at these young people and be ashamed of themselves if there is any shame left. If it was up to those intellectuals, this country has long become Turkmenistan.”
May 17, 2022