Center for National and International Studies
“When someone does dare to criticize, they are promptly summoned to the police, and in the best-case scenario, they are fined, while in the worst-case scenario, they are subjected to coercion and labeled as traitors…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms
An administrative arrest warrant was issued by the Binagadi District Court against Ramid Naghiyev, the head of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Binagadi District Branch. He was apprehended near the Baku Court of Serious Crimes and subsequently transported to the 6th PB at the Binagadi District Police Department. This information was sourced from the electronic court portal. Simultaneously, it was revealed on the court portal that an administrative arrest order had been issued for Ayat Ismayilov, a member of the APFP and an activist of the Beylagan Branch. The court received protocols for both activists in accordance with Articles 510 and 535.1 of the Criminal Code. In both instances, the cases were adjudicated and closed under the supervision of Judge Vusal Taghiyev, resulting in the issuance of administrative arrest decisions.
Nijat Ajdarli, a 33-year-old doctor and dentist in Yevlakh, tragically took his own life. Elvin Ajdarli, the cousin of the deceased, shared with Toplum TV that Nijat Ajdarli resorted to suicide after being brought to the police station from his workplace. Elvin Ajdarli recounted, “Yesterday, the police arrived at his workplace and took my cousin away, publicly alleging that he was a drug addict in front of his colleagues and patients. This deeply wounded his pride and is the underlying cause of his suicide. He was held at the Yevlakh district police station for four hours. Approximately half an hour after his release, at around 18:00, he tragically took his own life by hanging himself with a wire in his office. My cousin had been wrongly accused of drug involvement multiple times before. In truth, he had no connection to drugs and was well-respected in the region.”
Ilkin Jalilov, a resident of Baku city, was summoned to the 12th police station of Sabunchu district following his comments on Meydan TV. His brother, the video blogger Manaf Jalilzade, relayed this information to Meydan TV. According to Manaf Jalilzade, on October 18, Ilkin Jalilov faced undue pressure at the police station, where he was subjected to verbal abuse and physical mistreatment. Furthermore, he was coerced into making a statement on video, admitting to commenting on a post about the president and vowing not to repeat such actions. Ilkin Jalilov had expressed his views on a post regarding Ilham Aliyev‘s statement, “Our natural resources were used for the benefit of the people of Azerbaijan.” Ilkin Jalilov’s comment on the post was as follows: “It would be beneficial if the oil revenues were equitably distributed among the citizens.” Subsequently, he reportedly experienced harassment. Nurlan Aliyev, a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ press service, informed Meydan TV that a complaint concerning Ilkin Jalilov was received by the 12th police department the previous day. He stated, “The individual was summoned to the police station, questioned, and later released. Any claims of coercion within the police station are based on the individual’s personal opinions,” as stated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson.
Nazakat Mammadova, a political analyst featured in various media outlets, has been apprehended and is facing charges under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. According to details obtained by Meydan TV, Nazakat Mammadova was taken into custody by the State Security Service two days ago. The Sabail District Court has already decided on a four-month pretrial detention period for her, during which the preliminary investigation will be conducted. An undisclosed source stated, “Nazakat Mammadova stands accused of espionage on behalf of Russia. Her residence was subjected to a search, resulting in the seizure of various items.” The report also indicates that she had previously been interrogated by DTX (presumably a law enforcement agency). The accused Nazakat Mammadova’s stance regarding the allegations remains unknown. It has been reported that she has a young and medically vulnerable child under her care.
Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli commented on the recent arrests, calling it a new wave of repressions of the Aliyev regime. Karimli’s Facebook post: After the anti-terrorist operation in Karabakh, repressions intensified. It can be said that almost daily, social and political activists, as well as the activist members of the APFP, are being taken into custody. Ramid Nagiyev, head of the APFP Binagadi branch, was also detained by the police today. He will probably be brought before the court soon and will be sentenced to imprisonment. The government wants to turn the victorious nation into a submissive and obedient nation. No one should remain silent and wait for their turn to be repressed. We must defend every arrested social and political activist, and we must write and criticize the arrests of the activists.”
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said in a Facebook post that every time he shares a post about the Minister of Internal Affairs Vilayat Eyvazov, someone promptly responds with insults and curses. This has become a recurring pattern, suggesting that it aligns with their sense of morality. Mukhtarli has emphasized numerous times that he is willing to engage with the principal figures and not their followers. Mukhtarli further noted that the current situation in Azerbaijan leaves no room for criticizing government officials without the risk of facing imprisonment. They have effectively established an environment in which public scrutiny of officials is stifled. “ When someone does dare to criticize, they are promptly summoned to the police, and in the best-case scenario, they are fined, while in the worst-case scenario, they are subjected to coercion and labeled as traitors.”, Mukhtarli’s post says. A recent incident involved a citizen named Zaka Miragayev, an education expert, who posted a critical status regarding Vugar Alakbarov, the Deputy Chief of the Baku City Police Department. The next morning, Miragayev was apprehended under suspicious circumstances and drugs were purportedly discovered during a search of his office. The search and arrest were marred by violence. It is worth noting that Vugar Alakbarov has familial connections to Vilayat Eyvazov, making him seemingly immune to such criticism, as part of the privileged class.
Director of the Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov also reacted to the growing number of arrests, saying that despite its efforts, the regime will eventually fail to destroy the freedom of spirit. Goyushov’s post: “The aim of these recent actions of Aliyev’s government is to silence critical voices in the country, eliminate all kinds of opposition, and turn the country into Turkmenistan. However, this is Azerbaijan. We have seen the freedom during 1988-1993. The people did not forget the flag of the republic that was waved for only two years, and as for those five years of freedom, it won’t be possible to erase it from the memories. It’s not just about people. The highest-ranking officials of the Front-Musavat government, whom Aliyev calls a criminal, are now praising him. On the one hand, Aliyev calls them criminals, and on the other hand, he turns them into MPs. It is about the invincible spirit of freedom of the time that, despite so many arrests and repressions for the last 30 years, they cannot silence everyone. Of course, the damage is huge. Systems also have the ability to mold society into their own image. For instance, Tahir Karimli was a normal person during that period of freedom, but look at him now. It is evident what the system has done to him. In other words, people possess both positive and negative aspects within their nature. Freedom empowers individuals to consciously nurture their positive qualities through the freedom of choice, whereas dictatorship forcibly shapes people into its own image by denying them such a choice. Nevertheless, those five years represented an era that kindled the spirit of liberty, and much like a raised flag that cannot be easily lowered, the spirit of freedom of those five years can not be broken.”
Governance and Corruption
Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli pointed out the difference between the salaries in Azerbaijan and neighboring countries, saying that considering huge oil income, this difference can not be justified. “The question is very simple: why is the average monthly salary in Armenia $682, in Georgia $484, and in Azerbaijan $374? The authorities must step forward and answer this question. We were the so-called leading country of the Caucasus. What happened? We had a successful oil strategy. What went wrong? You said that we are developing the non-oil sector. If so, where are the economic results of that strategy? How is it possible that the citizens of countries without significant oil and gas reserves earn more than the people of a nation generating $200 billion from oil and gas? Not to mention trailing behind when compared to European countries, we find ourselves lagging behind even Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, all due to the insatiable greed and rampant corruption that has been embraced as a state policy.”
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu shared his assessment of the current situation in the Middle East, warning that if the scope of the conflict broadens, Azerbaijan might find itself in a very precarious situation. Orujlu: Now the struggle for Eurasia will continue between two poles: between Russia-China-Iran and USA-Europe-Israel. The position of most Arab countries and Turkey is still unclear. Even the Arab countries allied with the United States began to distance themselves from it after the Hamas-Israeli war, while Turkey is taking a wait-and-see position.
Worst of all, the possibility and space for negotiations between the poles is also steadily shrinking, as the struggle has already moved to the battlefields. There, the “truth” will be on the side of the strong. Is there a possibility of a major war in the Middle East? Of course, there is, but it is unlikely that it will happen in the near future. Because any war begins after resources and forces are gathered on or around the battlefield, which will not happen anytime soon. Therefore, proxy wars will continue for now and it is possible that their geography will expand. It is not an exception that it will include the Caucasus as well.”
Tofig Yagublu, a member of the National Council of Democratic Forces, expressed his disapproval of the excessive accolades bestowed upon first family members by state media for tasks that are essentially part of the state officials’ duties. Yagublu: “Within the framework of the “Our Yard” project, the initiator of which is Leyla Aliyeva, a yard was renovated on Hamza Babashov Street in the Binagadi district. This project has gained wide coverage across government media. However, it raises questions as to why work that is inherently the responsibility of state authorities, funded by public resources, should be credited to a government member who has, in some aspects, contributed to challenging the lives of the citizens. The portrayal in media suggests that no one had previously considered the necessity of beautifying these courtyards and that only the members of the ruling family could understand this necessity. If there were no thieves and illegitimate rulers in Azerbaijan, all the settlements of the country would be prosperous and this would not be presented as someone’s concern to the people. Should we then thank the Ministry of Education for doing its job of providing education to our children? When there is a normally functioning state, it’s no surprise that its institutions simply fulfill their responsibilities as part of their job duties.”
October 24, 2023