Center for National and International Studies
“The fact that Azerbaijan helps Russia to break Western sanctions will have a serious impact on its image…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The members of the board of directors of the “Democracy-1918” (D-18) movement, Afiyaddin Mammadov and Samir Sultanov, who were detained while protesting against the arrest of activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev were sentenced to 30-day imprisonment. Both Mammadov and Sultanov were charged under articles 510 (petty mischief) and 535.1 (disobeying the legal request of the police) of the Code of Administrative Offenses. A dozen of protesters were detained during the rally in front of the court where the case of activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was heard. Except for Mammadov and Sultanov, the rest of the protestors, including activists Narmin Shahmarzadeh, Nemat Abbasov, Ali Malikov were released.
One of the participants of the protest, war veteran Rza Safarsoy has been detained by the police, but his family couldn’t receive any news about his whereabouts. His wife Tarana Safarsoy said there is no news about her husband, although they have already called the police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Meanwhile, Zaur Usubov, a member of the Ismayilli branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), was arrested under administrative order.
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that the regime uses the political arrests for its own political gains. “Our people and international organizations should know that political detentions have become a serious tool of repression in the hands of the regime. In the last month alone, members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Elnur Hasan, Rovshan Safarov, Orkhan Bakhish, and Anar Arkivan, were sentenced to 30 days and Zaur Usubov to 25 days imprisonment. Alizamin Salayev, the chairman of the APFP Salyan branch, was charged with a criminal offense and has been on hunger strike for 15 days. Our people should not leave the democratic forces alone against this brutal repression machine.”
The National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) issued a statement on the threats to the activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s life, who has been on hunger strike for more than 45 days, and the continuation of political repression in the country. The statement said. “The life of the activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who has been on hunger strike for the 45th day in protest against his torture and arrest, is in danger. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was on dry hunger for six days, and he did not drink water. This has worsened his health, and now he may fall into a coma at any moment. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani authorities do not realize how dangerous the situation with Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is and insists on keeping him in prison. By ignoring the calls of the people in the country and the international community to release Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, the authorities seem to be interested in his complete loss of life or health. The National Council strongly condemns this cruel and inhuman attitude of the authorities towards Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and warns that if Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is not released soon, the Azerbaijani authorities will have to answer to our people and the international community for any unpleasant consequences that may arise.” The National Council called on the international community to respond seriously to the political repressions of the Azerbaijani authorities. “The international community should take into account that Ilham Aliyev‘s government ignores calls for the provision of human rights and freedoms and the release of political prisoners. Therefore, it is necessary to apply targeted sanctions against the officials involved in violating human rights and arresting social and political activists.” The National Council also addressed the people of Azerbaijan to defend the country’s opposition and civil society more actively. “Our people should not surrender themselves to the atmosphere of fear created by the regime. They should participate more closely and actively in the struggle to protect their rights and freedoms and for radical changes in the country.”
Governance and Corruption
The special quarantine regime has been extended for another two months in Azerbaijan. According to the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers signed by Prime Minister Ali Asadov, “in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), the period of the special quarantine regime in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been extended until 06:00 on May 1, 2023”. Although the number of infections is minimal and all pandemic-related bans have been lifted in Azerbaijan, the land borders of the country are still closed despite the demands.
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu shared research demonstrating lack of transparency and vast corruption in the construction works in the Karabakh region. Ibadoghlu’s Facebook post: “ Check this video out, and you will see why the settlement in Karabakh is delayed. If no one lives in Karabakh, then Karabakh has not been liberated. It has changed hands: Armenia has kept this territory under occupation for 27 years, and now Karabakh has become a place of corruption and budget looting for the ruling family and its business partners. This video shows the unfair distribution of billions allocated from the state budget for the construction in the Agdam and Fuzuli regions and the seizure of public funds by private companies belonging to the ruling family and high-ranking officials. In this video, the dark past of these companies, their million-dollar “tender adventures”, and the sad prospect of settlement in Karabakh are discussed in detail.”
The tanker set sail from Azerbaijan carrying 22,500 tonnes of oil suspected of coming from Russia was seized in Albania. The 22 crew members of the tanker were arrested for breaching a Western embargo on Russia imposed over its war against Ukraine, Albanian police said. The Liberian-registered oil and chemical tanker seized in the coastal town of Durres departed from Azerbaijan and was allegedly loaded with oil at Greece’s Kalamata port from another tanker with the amount of 22,500 tonnes of diesel fuel.
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that this instance of trafficking illegal Russian oil will have serious consequences for the Azerbaijani authorities. Gahramanli’s post: “There is no doubt that this will also have political consequences. Obviously, the fact that Azerbaijan helps Russia to break Western sanctions will have a negative impact on the image of our country. At the same time, more attention will be paid to the foreign economic activities of Azerbaijan as a country that helps Russia to break the sanctions.”
The International Court Court of Justice has issued a decision that Azerbaijan should immediately open the Lachin Corridor and ensure the free movement of Armenians. This decision was announced by the president of the International Court of Justice, Joan E. Donoghue. Donoghue said the evidence presented by Armenia established that the blockade “has impeded the transfer of persons of Armenian national and ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno-Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical care.” It also interrupted supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh of “essential goods causing shortages of food, medicine and other lifesaving medical supplies,” Donoghue said. In their majority decision, the court’s judges ordered Azerbaijan to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.”
February 24, 2023