Center for National and International Studies
“The G7 states should not allow those involved in corruption to travel to democratic countries and obtain residence permits there…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Fakhraddin Agayev, a resident of Bursulum village in Lerik, told Meydan TV that his nephew Subhan Agayev was tortured and killed in prison No. 5 in Salyan district. “In January 2023, he was found guilty of committing the crime of theft and was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment by the decision of the Khazar District Court. On February 25, 2023, he was transferred to prison No. 5 in Salyan. On February 28, we were informed that he died,” said the deceased’s uncle. According to him, when his nephew was taken from Baku to Salyan, he was healthy and did not complain about any health issues. However, when his body returned to his family, there were signs of torture on his body. Subhan Aghayev was awarded the medals “For the liberation of Khojavend”, “Participant in the Patriotic War,” and “For the liberation of Fuzuli”.
On April 10, it was reported that two servicemen of the Azerbaijan Army – Agshin Babirov and Huseyn Akhundov went missing in the direction of the Shahbuz district of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic due to limited visibility because of the bad weather conditions. Some Armenian telegram channels shared photos and videos of Babirov being tortured by the Armenian army members. The whereabouts of Akhundov are still unknown. Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu said that such cases hinder the possibility of peace between the two nations. Ibadoghlu: “The perpetrators of this crime are the representatives of the forces interested in the continuation of enmity, the failure of reconciliation and peace between the two countries. If the current government in Armenia does not take adequate steps, then they are complicit in this crime.”
Journalist Habib Muntazir reports that two Azerbaijanis, the residents of the Sharur district of Nakhchivan, Vusal Guliyev and Rovshan Seyid, who went to Iran for medical treatment, were reportedly arrested by Iran’s law enforcement agencies. There is still no information about the Azerbaijani student who was arrested in Iran last month.
Member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Alizamin Salyev has been on hunger strike for more than 70 days. Journalist Chingiz Sultansoy shared a post about The 1981 Irish Hunger strike adding that Salayev’s life is in real danger. “The 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, known worldwide as the “Irish Hunger Strike,” was the culmination of five years of protest over the conflict in Northern Ireland, a part of Britain. A group of 23 Irish Catholic prisoners went on a hunger strike, and 10 (ten!) of them died as a result!… The fact that if a person is starving to death, it shows not only their bravery, their “talent”, but also the intensity and level of the government’s oppression.”
Poet Tofig Hasanli wrote a column for the Azadliq newspaper about the horrible conditions in prisons. “My heart aches to listen to the complaints of the prisoners’ mothers. How can a person be so cruel to his own people? He is a criminal, and it is the government’s duty to ensure humane conditions in prison. Yes, the government also pays the expenses of the prisoners to the institution. Then why does it not take any action about food scarcity in these institutions? Today, the situation in prisons is a secret neither to the people nor to the government. Everything in the enterprise is sold at the double the price, and the prisoners are forced to either buy or ask their families to bring food, as the food in the prisons is unedible.”
Governance and Corruption
By order of Ilham Aliyev, Majnun Mammadov, a former employee of “Pasha Holding”, was appointed as the Minister of Agriculture. According to another decree, Adil Karimli was appointed as the Minister of Culture. He once held a high-ranking position at the Heydar Aliyev Center. Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that new appointments once again prove that the whole country is ruled by one family. Mukhtarli: “The country is ruled according to the interests of one family. Those who manage the Aliyev family’s business and gain the family’s trust are brought to high positions in the government. Aliyev considers the country to be his property. There is nothing left in the name of the state in Azerbaijan. There is Pasha Holding, and there is Bravo Market. That’s it. Betrayal to the family is considered treason.”
Director of Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov also commented on the new appointments saying that the public is not going to benefit from the change of personnel as long as the same government rules the country. “As a result of the “reform”, young people come to replace the old stuff with notebooks and pencils in their hands. In other words, personnel changes in Azerbaijan cannot benefit the public in any case. It just serves to further strengthen authoritarianism and the power of one person. Our path is the path of Kim Jong Un of North Korea. Only changing the whole government can benefit the public. Until then, bad days will be followed by the worse days.”
Preparations are being made for Formula 1 races that are going to be held at the end of April. Since 2016 Baku has been hosting the Grand Prix of the games. Installation of cable barriers and concrete blocks on the roads has started in the city center. Formula 1 races will be held in Baku on April 28-30. The games are held every year, despite the complaints made by the residents of the capital objecting to the restriction of movement in the historical center of the city.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Youth and Sports said the Azerbaijani team withdrew from the European Weightlifting Championships in the capital of Armenia a day after a man ran onto the stage seizing and burning the Azerbaijani flag. Armenian authorities said that the man who burned the flag was taken to a police station after the incident but freed without charges.
The incident caused outrage in Azerbaijan, with many arguing that it would damage the already fragile possibility of peace negotiations after the bloody war between the two countries. Member of REAL Party Natig Jafarli said that in the last few days, there had been numerous similar provocative acts by the Armenian side that have not been properly condemned. Jafarli; “I list at least five different cases that could be used against Armenia. These are the “passes” they gave us in the last ten days, which would be enough to crush them, but we failed to use these cases to raise our concerns. Armenia became the second country that helped Russia the most to avoid sanctions (after Belarus); The US imposed sanctions on Armenian companies for helping Russia; Armenia cooperated with Iran in the strategic-military field, and it turned out that it bought weapons and drones from Iran; The brutal torture of the Azerbaijani soldier captured in Armenia was proven by the videos and images; and at the opening ceremony of the international tournament, in the middle of Yerevan, with the participation of Armenian officials, a guy seized the Azerbaijani flag and burnt it. If it was Azerbaijan who did similar actions, we would now face even the toughest sanctions. The proper presentation of what the Armenians and Armenia have done in recent days creates an excellent opportunity for the diplomatic formalization of our military victory…”
Deputy of the ruling Civil Contract Party of the Armenian Parliament, Hovik Aghazarian, condemned the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the opening ceremony of the European Championships in Yerevan on his Facebook page. “As a citizen and deputy, I apologize to the international community for not having done enough to completely eradicate from our nation practices peculiar to wild and cannibalistic tribes. I am ashamed,” the MP wrote.
Activist Ilkin Muradov said that the problem of traffic jams in Baku has become worse. “Previously, when the president passed by, the roads would be closed for 15-20 minutes. This time is now almost an hour. Because the density of Baku is increasing day by day. We are almost used to it, and we have to. The problem is that the police, who block the roads and intersections, leave the area after the president passes. The drivers and pedestrians on the roads without traffic lights are left at the mercy of God. The police do not adjust the road for at least 15-20 minutes. Therefore, the traffic jam lasts for hours.”
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the G7 states should be more strict in their defense of democratic values against authoritarian regimes. Ibadoghlu: “If the G7 states and their democratic institutions, international organizations specialized in anti-corruption, want to democratize Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet countries, they should prevent those who govern these countries from engaging in corruption by all means. They should not allow dirty money to be laundered by monitoring financial transactions abroad of the relatives of those in power in these countries; They should not allow those engaged in corruption and their relatives to travel to democratic countries and obtain residence permits there; They should open a criminal case against citizens of democratic countries who help those involved in corruption in their country.”
April 18, 2023