Center for National and International Studies
“Including myself, there is not a single MP in the Milli Majlis that was elected by the people as there are no democratic and fair elections in Azerbaijan…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s brother Vugar Hajiyev met him in prison, where Hajiyev has been on hunger strike for more than 20 days in protest against his illegal arrest. After seeing how bad his condition was, Vugar Hajiyev said that he was worried about his brother. “I met Bakhtiyar in the detention center. As soon as he entered the room, I noticed a serious change in his health. He has lost a lot of weight, he was very pale, he had dark circles under his eyes, his hands were pale, and I noticed redness around all his nails. He said that he often gets dizzy and he has difficulties with moving. His condition gets worse, especially in the evenings. It takes at least 25 minutes for a single paramedic to get to him.”
Hajiyev’s lawyer Nemat Karimli also said that the activist’s health is declining, and if he continues the strike, it might have long-term consequences on his health. “Bakhtiyar’s health has worsened compared to previous days. Due to increased dizziness and weakness, Bakhtiyar loses his balance when he stands up and hardly helps himself not to fall. The detention center doctor said that this may be due to insufficient blood supply to the brain.”
Since January 20, seven people have been arrested for their political activities in Baku. Two of them are members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), and five of them are members of the National Union Movement (NUM). Five of those arrested were arrested on January 20 while returning from a visit to the Alley of Martyrs. Although it is not known under what circumstances Rovshan Safarov, an activist of APFP, was arrested, it was known that he was detained administratively for 30 days. According to the latest information, another member of the NUM, Abbas Ali, was arrested for 30 days. According to journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, those arrested were not provided with a lawyer, they were not allowed to contact their families, and their trials were held in secret.
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that the current state of Human Rights in Azerbaijan damages the country’s image and its long-term goals. Karimli’s Facebook post: “Ilham Aliyev sees that Armenian separatists are using a mass violation of human rights in our country against Azerbaijan. He also sees that repression discredits our country and isolates it from the civilized world. However, in order to protect his power, he does not stop the repressions that torment Azerbaijanis and weaken Azerbaijan. Therefore, he sacrifices the interests of the nation and the country for the interests of his own power. Our people should protest against this policy and demand the freedom of Rovshan Safarova, Anar Arkivan, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, and all the political prisoners.”
According to the information released by the Press Service of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, on January 24, soldier Akram Asim oghlu Salahov, serving in the military unit of the Ministry of Defense, killed himself with a firearm. Prosecution officers inspected the scene and the body, and the items important for the case were taken as material evidence. The statement says that a criminal case has been opened at the Gubadli Military Prosecutor’s Office under Article 125 of the Criminal Code (suicide). “Currently, the investigation is ongoing, and all measures will be taken in accordance with the requirements of the legislation,” the ministry noted.
Journalist Hebib Muntazir reports that Khatai district resident veteran Hikmet Natig oghlu Salmanzadeh set himself on fire to protest against the Mental Health Center that ignored his request for psychological help. According to Salmanzadeh, despite his numerous appeals, they ignored his calls. As a sign of protest against the injustice he faced, the veteran set himself on fire and was hospitalized with severe injuries.
Governance and Corruption
In a telephone conversation with Ilham Aliyev, US Secretary of State Blinken discussed the situation in Karabakh as well as human rights issues in Azerbaijan. Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli criticized president Aliyev’s foreign and domestic policy, adding that the violation of Human Rights should not be a secondary issue during the discussion with the West. “The USA is trying to safeguard the possibilities of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, even if the Brussels negotiation has failed. The US is trying to prevent the South Caucasus from remaining under Putin‘s monopoly. May it be possible to establish lasting peace in the region. It is in accordance with our national interests. However, in recent years, we observe a serious shortcoming in the policy of the USA and the EU regarding the region. The democratic powers, which are sensitive to the rights and freedoms of the Armenian population living in Karabakh, unfortunately, did not show the same sensitivity to the violation of the rights of the others (non-Armenians)- Azerbaijanis living in the country. Whatever the Western leaders discuss with Ilham Aliyev, they should never forget to discuss the deplorable state of human rights, the fate of political prisoners in the country, the stifling of freedom of assembly, freedom of the media and other freedoms, and they should not consider these subjects as a secondary issue.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that Blinken’s stress on the state of Human Rights in Azerbaijan indicates that the US may consider sanctions against Azerbaijan if the current repression continues. “In his call, he (Blinken) wanted to show that if the policy of repression continues, the USA will go over this issue without taking into account the position of the Azerbaijani authorities. It seems that they are already beginning to understand in the West that the issue of human rights in Azerbaijan has a geopolitical nature. Because the regime’s lack of interest in political cooperation with the West and its closeness with Russia has a lot to do with its attitude to human rights. This means that in the near future, the issue of peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the situation of human rights in our country, will be at the center of attention as a priority issue. If the Azerbaijani authorities do not change their policy on these two issues, then the confrontation with the West will inevitably bring sanctions to the agenda.”
Former Chief Executive Alimpasha Mammadov admitted in court that he had embezzled 40,000 manats during the population census in Shamkir. Moreover, OCCRP released a new report on the properties illegally owned by the former head of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (AR) Vasif Talibov. According to the investigation, Talibov owns a property in Georgia worths $270 million. OCCRP is an International Network of Journalists that publish Corruption Investigations. The OCCRP website is blocked in Azerbaijan.
Azadliq newspaper reports that in Azerbaijan, out of 649 doctoral dissertations defended last year, at least 427 were sent back as they did not meet the requirements set by the Academy of Science.
Journalist Mehman Huseynov interviewed MP Erkin Gadirli, who said that “including himself, there is not a single MP in the Milli Majlis that was elected by the people as there is no democratic and fair elections in Azerbaijan.” Gadirli’s comment caused backlash from his colleagues, who argued that they were elected in contrast to what Gadirli said. Journalist Husyenov said that Gadirli should be applauded for at least being honest about the situation in the country. Huseynov regularly shares his investigations on the properties illegally owned by the MPs and the officials.
January 27, 2023