Center for National and International Studies
“The soldiers who can not stand the burden of labor exploitation suffer from severe psychological conditions to the point that they commit suicide…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev continues the hunger strike. According to his lawyer Agil Layij, on Tuesday, Khatai Court will consider whether Hajiyev will be under house arrest. Moreover, Layij also said that Hajiyev is not allowed to have telephone conversations. “Telephone conversations with lawyers cannot be prohibited by law and cannot be restricted under any circumstances. During my last meeting with him, I presented the numbers of the lawyers to him so that he could be directly informed about important and public issues. If Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has really stopped his hunger strike (we hope for that), conditions should be created right now so that he calls one of his lawyers and tells us the good news that he has stopped his hunger strike. I met with Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on Friday, and he categorically denied the news of the suspension of the hunger strike. He said that the information in the media does not reflect reality, and it is definitely a distortion of reality. Unfortunately, today I could not convince him to stop the hunger strike.”
Human rights defender Rufat Safarov said that according to the information he received, if Bakhtiyar Hajiyev continues his hunger strike, the prison staff will use violence by tying his hands and feet, and he will be forced to feed.
Meydan TV reports that, on December 15, the German government deported 20 Azerbaijanis. This step was taken within the framework of the agreement “on the readmission of persons living without permission” signed between Azerbaijan and the European Union in 2014. The information was released by the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan. According to the Migration Service, the Working Group on Reintegration is taking appropriate measures to reintegrate the readmitted Azerbaijani citizens into the local society and to solve the possible difficulties they may face. However, human rights defenders express their concerns about those who left Azerbaijan due to political persecution. Many of the deportees from Germany who used to be politically active have been arrested upon their arrival on trumped-up charges.
Journalist Hebib Muntazir reports that the soldiers of the Azerbaijani army are illegally forced to work in the construction sites in the Karabakh region. Muntazir’s Facebook post: “Construction-repair season” has started in the military units of the Azerbaijani army. The soldiers are subjected to forced labor exploitation. The authorities pocket the money allocated for the construction work that should be given to the workers. Even in some military units, they collect money for construction materials and equipment from the soldiers and through them from their families. Soldiers who do not obey work die of disease or heart failure. The soldiers who can not stand the burden of labor exploitation suffer from severe psychological conditions to the point that they commit suicide. Moreover, there are supply and equipment shortages in many military units. The situation of hygiene and sanitation in the military units is bad too. There are problems with providing the soldiers with winter clothing, and severe issues exist in terms of accommodation and logistics. These problems are mainly observed in the areas liberated from occupation. In addition, they recruit soldiers who are unfit for military service because they need to fill the place of those who paid to avoid military service. Those who can pay the bribe to serve in the big cities and safer areas. The children of low-income families who can not afford it are sent straight to the border, front lines, and territories freed from occupation. The increase in the number of mysterious deaths of soldiers in recent weeks is also related to the above-mentioned issues.”
The National Council of Democratic Forces shared a statement regarding the prosecution of Gultekin Hajibeyli, a member of the National Council Coordination Center, who was charged with criminal responsibility. Hajibeyli was detained at the Baku airport on November 30, 2022 as she was returning from Brussels. She was later detained at the police station for six hours and finally released after a written statement was taken at the Nasimi district court. It became clear that the arrest was based on the complaint of a person named Leyla Arif. A criminal case was opened against Hajibeyli under Article 147.2 of the Criminal Code (defamation by accusing of a serious or particularly serious crime). However, Hajibeyli was not informed of this, and several court hearings were held against Hajibeyli without her knowledge or participation. In the end, a detention decision was issued on the pretext of “failing to show up to court without a good reason”.
Governance and Corruption
On December 16, the draft law “on political parties” was adopted in the third reading in the Milli Majlis. After the adoption of the law, it should be submitted to the Presidential Administration.
The President can sign or veto the document within 56 days from the date of introduction of the law. Member of APFP, journalist Seymur Hezi believes that the law will aggravate the political environment in Azerbaijan. According to Hezi, with the new law, the Azerbaijani authorities are preparing for the Post-Putin era. Hezi added that this kind of formal changes in the legislation will not solve the problems of the Azerbaijani people. “As long as the problems remain, their political relevance also remains. The government made a very serious mistake in this regard. Instead of solving problems, they think about eliminating them from a formal point of view. This is politically absurd.”
Despite numerous protests from the opposition, independent experts, and international organizations, Milli Majlis went ahead to adopt the controversial law.
The Ministries of Customs and Health have agreed on setting a limit on medicines brought by citizens from abroad for personal use. Independent experts argue that according to the new amendment, citizens will not be allowed to bring medicine for personal use.
December 20, 2022