Center for National and International Studies
“The people of Azerbaijan must also recognize the responsibility that falls on their shoulders at this historic turning point for their future, and rise to a more mass and consistent peaceful struggle.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The National Council of Democratic Forces shared a statement on the new wave of politically motivated arrests and police violence. The statement reads: “Numerous cases of police violence and other mysterious crimes (believed by the general public to be connected to the police) have been committed against prominent public and political figures, members of the media, and civil society activists recently, but the authorities have shown no interest in uncovering any of them. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani government does not recognize the changes taking place in the world and does not take international calls seriously. He still believes that people’s desire for freedom and democracy can be suppressed until the end through police violence and arbitrary arrests. It appears that the international community must speak more harshly and openly with the Azerbaijani government in order for it to understand and accept the new realities of the changing world. As the National Council, we call on the international community to be more assertive with Baku on fundamental human rights. The people of Azerbaijan must also recognize the responsibility that falls on their shoulders at this historic turning point for their future and rise to a more mass and consistent peaceful struggle.”
Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party, chaired by Gubad Ibadoghlu, also shared a statement calling on the government to immediately start reforms. The statement of the Party reads: In order to start the process of democratization in Azerbaijan, the government must, first of all, ensure freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, opinion, and press, elimination of legal and institutional barriers to the registration of civil society and political parties, and cessation of recent political repressions and violence. We call on the government to take real steps in this direction and the unconditional and immediate release of political prisoners with an amnesty decree on Independence Day in May.”
Mail Karimov, a member of the Muslim Union Movement, says he was tortured at the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime. Karimov told media representatives: “I apologize to all of you, then they took off my pants. They tore my underwear. They said that if you go to court again, we will do “it” for you … ”
Another member of the movement, Razi Humbatov, was detained in front of the court where the hearings were scheduled to take place. Citizens who were not allowed to appear in court were brought to the 22nd police station.
Blogger Rashad Ramazanov, who was detained on May 20, has been charged with drug trafficking. His wife, Konul Ramazanova, told Meydan TV that Ramazanov had already been arrested. He was transferred to the prison on May 21 following a court decision.
Journalist exiled in Germany, Afgan Mukhtarli said that he is afraid that Ramazanov will be killed in prison. Mukhtarli wrote: In 2017, Mehman Galandarli was experiencing the same challenges. He was also in financial difficulties. We, his friends, helped him to cover his expenses. He was living in Tbilisi at that time. He knew he would be arrested if he returned to Baku. As soon as he returned to Baku, he was arrested. He was charged with drug trafficking, as in the case of Rashad. While serving his prison sentence in Kurdakhani, Mehman was killed. I am worried about Rashaddin’s fate. I am afraid that he will be killed like Mehman. Rashad was tortured and severely beaten at the 14th police station. He is currently in Kurdakhani. He was able to talk to his family for 2 minutes.” Mukhtarli said that, unfortunately, some human rights defenders and lawyers are not defending the activists who were illegally deported and arrested. Mukhtarli; wrote: “I am disappointed with human rights activists, whom we considered independent and naively thought that they are not bribed by the government. They are silent. They were silent when the Mehman was captured and killed. They were silent when Bayram Mammadov was killed in Istanbul, Huseyn Bakikhanov in Tbilisi, and Vugar Rza in Belgium. Whichever organization we write to about the cases of deported activists, they answer that the sources in Baku do not confirm those cases.”
Police Colonel Ehsan Zahidov, Chief of the Interior Ministry’s Press Service, commented on the results of a joint press conference held by the Defense Line Human Rights Organization and the Muslim Union Movement, calling the cases of violence against the members of the organization “nonsense and deliberate, baseless allegations.” Razi Humbatov, a member of the Muslim Union Movement who was convicted on completely false charges and sentenced to six years in prison, was detained by police for trying to attend a trial in the Baku Court of Grave Crimes. Three members of the Movement Imran Mammadli, Elgiz Mammadov, and Agali Yahyayev, were administratively arrested. Two members of the Movements, Suleyman Alakbarov and Mail Karimov were released after several hours of detention at the police station, where they were severely tortured.
Agil Maharramov, a member of the Presidium of the Popular Front Party and employee of the Azadlig newspaper, was released after four years in prison. Maharramov was arrested in May 2018 along with Saleh Rustamov, Babek Hasanov, Vidadi Rustamov, and Ruslan Nasirli for financing PFP. Rustamov, who was on hunger strike for more than forty days, is still in prison.
Governance and Corruption
According to BBC News in Azerbaijani, the government in Azerbaijan is preparing for a referendum to change the constitution. It is reported that preparations for the referendum are underway in Azerbaijan. The expected changes include the law on the transition to proportional elections in parliament, increasing the number of MPs, and granting Azerbaijani citizenship to the Armenians in Khankendi.
President Ilham Aliyev dismissed Javid Gurbanov, who has worked in the state railway service for 30 years, has been a member of parliament for more than 15 years, and chairman of Azerbaijan Railways for seven years. Gurbanov was appointed Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport. Blogger Habib Muntezir reports that Gurbanov owns large businesses both in the country and abroad – in various fields such as transport, logistics, construction, real estate, agriculture, health, and gambling. In 2013 Gurbanov married the head of the Vienna Cultural Center Leyla Eldar gizi Gasimova, who is the cousin of the first lady and the vice president Mehriban Aliyeva. Leyla Gasimova is the daughter of Aliyeva’s aunt Adiba Pashayeva.
Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADR) shared a statement as the third round of the Karabakh talks in Brussels continues. According to the statement, The ADR Party closely monitors the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, applauds the format of the trilateral meeting with Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan in Brussels mediated by EU Council President Charles Michel, and considers it expedient to hold intensive meetings in this format until a peace agreement is signed. ADR Party appreciates the importance of preparing for peace as both countries agreed to organize the first joint meeting of the Interstate Border Commissions to restore transport links to continue discussions on a future peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The statement concluded that the ADR Party considers it expedient to integrate the ethnic Armenian population in Karabakh into Azerbaijan as equal citizens by ensuring their rights and security and removing the political status based on the territorial principle from the discussion.
May 27, 2022