Center for National and International Studies
“Azerbaijan is a black, deep, bottomless well that silently swallows and exploits us, and destroys our life, happiness, dreams, hopes, and future.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The trial of Alizamin Salayev, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Part (APFP) Salyan district branch, who has been on hunger strike for more than 100 days, has been held. Salayev was brought to the court by ambulance as he was not able to move. Despite numerous calls from local and international human rights defenders to release Salayev, the court sentenced him to 4 years in prison.
Azadlig newspaper reports that two ten years old children fell into SOCAR‘s unsealed well and died. The tragic accident happened in the Khanlar residential area of Mashtaga settlement outside Baku. According to the relatives of the minors, a total of 7 oil wells in the area are owned by SOCAR, the state oil company. However, since the wells were not sealed, the children fell into one of the wells, which was more than 50 meters deep. According to the locals, despite their complaints, the authorities have not taken any measures to provide safety for the locals. The state oil company has long been criticized for the lack of transparency in its activities, unequal paychecks, and misappropriation of its budget.
Member of the National Council of Democratic Forces Gultakin Hajibeyli commented on the sad news saying that “SOCAR not only drinks our blood and exploits the wealth of this country, it also destroys our children and our future.” Hajibeyli: “It seems to me that Azerbaijan is also a deep well. A black, deep, bottomless well that silently swallows and exploits us and destroys our life, happiness, dreams, hopes, and future.”
Governance and Corruption
The Chairperson of the APFP Ali Karimli criticized the government for the non-transparent reconstruction works in the Karabakh region and the delayed return of the IDPs. Karimli: The Ukrainians fought with the world’s second largest army and cleared Bucha of mines, and restored the town. Of course, the people of Bucha returned to their city. After the war, Ukraine cleared dozens of cities and 1000 settlements of mines, rebuilt them, and returned the displaced people to their homes. In Azerbaijan, only Pasha Holding is well established in the lands of Karabakh, which were liberated two and a half years ago at the cost of the blood and lives of our soldiers. The local population has not yet been returned to their homes. According to Aliyev‘s plan, 620 villages will never be restored. Apparently, the lands where those villages were located are fertile lands. Those lands are needed for agro holdings of the ruling family. Ilham Aliyev himself is personally involved in overseeing the construction of a massive Congress Center and a 250-seat restaurant in a 2.2-hectare area in Zangilan. The return of the Karabakh people to their homeland is not on the horizon yet. Ilham Aliyev wants 30 years and 25 billion dollars to clear the lands of Karabakh of mines…”
Both banks and customers are worried after the decision of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan on the cancellation of the license of Gunay Bank. Several private banks are at risk, according to the experts, as a result of the recent decision of the Central Bank. Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu said that under the current circumstances, the fate of the small banks depends on the political situation that can change anytime. “Depositing in big banks is risky because if sanctions are applied to the Azerbaijani authorities for dubious financial transactions and money laundering, the banks belonging to the ruling family will fall into the sanction list first. As you know, large banks also lag behind small and medium-sized banks in terms of transparency, accountability, service level, and quality. Finally, it is no secret that the life of big banks depends on as long as the political power stays. The day the Aliyevs leave power, their banks may collapse, and you may lose your money. Therefore, do not deposit your money in banks that run such risks. Diversify in other financial markets by investing in shares of promising companies and stock markets.”
The compulsory insurance of houses is on the agenda of the government again. According to Azerbaijani media, after the new electronic system is launched on June 1, owners of uninsured houses will be automatically fined. According to Article 35.2 of the Law, insurance of buildings, residential and non-residential areas, residential houses and buildings, apartments, as well as state property belonging to legal and natural persons is mandatory. Article 469 of the Code of Administrative Offenses adopted in 2015 mentions that for not concluding a compulsory insurance contract, individuals are fined 30 manats, officials 80 manats, and legal entities 200 manats. According to the amendment made to the law in 2016, the fined person must provide the compulsory insurance contract within 20 days.
Financial expert Samir Aliyev said that compulsory insurance is against the constitutional rights of the citizens. “This step is against the Constitutional right of our citizens. According to Article 29.3 of the Constitution, the right of ownership consists of the rights of the owner to own property alone or together with others, to use property, and to dispose of it. In the current case, the state makes a decision on behalf of the owners and forces them to have insurance. This should not be confused with compulsory car insurance because compulsory car insurance is applied to a third party. Apartment insurance is a step taken to minimize the owner’s loss. To force it is to violate the owner’s right of choice.”
Azerbaijan, together with Armenia, Hungary, Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not sign the declaration on the creation of a register related to the damage caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine at the summit of the Council of Europe held in Iceland. The register of damages will allow Ukrainian victims of war to demand reparations. In total, 40 member states of the Council of Europe agreed to join the declaration.
In central Baku, a small “iron fist” monument was removed shortly after it was unveiled. On social media, many users criticized the monument both for its unesthetic look and symbolic meaning. Previously President Aliyev and the First Lady attended the unveiling of the “Iron Fist” street sign in Shusha, Karabakh, and a monument in Hadrut. Iron Fist became the symbol of the victory of Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh War.
May 23, 2023