Center for National and International Studies
Center for National and International Studies
“As a nation, the best way to avoid responsibility is to take refuge in the mythical power of geopolitics, the myths of conspiracy theories….”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Azadliq newspaper reports that APFP member Natalia Iorina filed a complaint to the prosecutor’s office. However, instead of listening to her complaint, she was taken to the 9th police station.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, calls for changes to new media law. In a letter to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Mijatovic called for reconsideration of the law which was adopted by the Milli Majlis.
A lawsuit has been filed to ban journalist Sevinj Vagifgizi from leaving the country for her coverage of the presidential elections. The journalist was sued by Elmira Alandarova, a former deputy principal of School No. 251. She was asked to apologize and remove the video entitled “Deputy Director in charge of the carousel from the online platforms.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that, in Agjabadi, a 67-year-old woman’s pension was suspended, and she was told that the reason behind the termination of the pension was her death. Neither the woman nor her family can prove that she is still alive. The authorities told the woman that she should prove her current state, and only after the court decision can her complaint be considered. Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli reacted to the case, saying that they (the authorities) consider the Azerbaijani people spiritually dead and therefore, they took away everything- wealth, rights -from the people.” Many activists and independent researchers believe that the government use these absurd methods to cut the pensions to save the budget
The trial of APFP activist Shahin Haji continues in Ganja. Although lawyer Zabil Gahramanli filed several motions for the indictment alleging violations and falsifications, Judge Khagani Samadov did not grant any of them. The next hearing is scheduled for February 8. Shahin Haji was arrested on drug charges after his harsh criticism of the government on social media.
In its annual report released on January 13, Human Rights Watch touched upon a number of issues in Azerbaijan: arbitrary arrests, torture, freedom of expression, and the events in Tartar and Ganja.
Governance, corruption, transparency
Transparency International released a report on corruption in the world in 2021. According to the report, Azerbaijan is the 128th most corrupt country among 180 countries in the world, scoring 30 out of 100 possible points, along with Djibouti, Togo, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Laos, and Paraguay.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev wrote that the Ministry of Internal Affairs shared a video of a “voluntary” apology of a citizen, while the Prosecutor General’s Office shared another “voluntary” apology video and distributed it on its official page. Hajiyev criticized the government for such a practice, which is widely used by the authorities. In the recent “voluntary apology” video, a woman is seen to read a text while her hands are shaking. Hajiyev argued that from the movement of her eyes and body language, it is clear that they have put a text in front of her and forced her to read the public apology. “Hopefully, minister Sahil Babayev will cheer us up tomorrow with his “voluntary” retirement,” added Hajiyev. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev also informed his followers that a complaint about suspicious acts by the minister Babayev with the signatures of 1,000 people was sent to the office of the President, the Prosecutor General, and the head of the State Tax Committee. The complaint is about the procurement of a public fund worth more than 160 million manats to repair a building. Hajiyev added that in their complaint letter, they asked the authorities to investigate whether there were any violations of law in the acts of the minister Babayev.
Investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov exposed the corruption at the State Customs Committee. In his recent post, “How and why does Safar Mehdiyev silence journalists?” Huseynov wrote that the chairman of the State Customs Committee, Safar Mehdiyev, gathered journalists in luxury hotels near the state border to give them training on “Reforms in the customs system: results and prospects.” Huseynov wrote: In return for a stay at a luxury hotel, expensive food, and drink, the journalists are trained on “reforms” that are carried out by the committee. It is clear why he is doing this. It is a tactic to have the support of the media. The Customs Committee explains to journalists its work and the working principle of customs. First, I was thinking that maybe I should teach those journalists the scale of corruption at the committee. But then I remembered that the committee itself is the master when it comes to the subject of corruption.”
Favouritism in Academia
Head of NCDF professor Jamil Hasanli touched upon the issue of favouritism in academia. Hasanli argued that the current favouritism that is based on local preferences paralyzes the whole academia causing drastic consequences. Hasanli wrote: Some years ago, I wrote an article calling the academics in ANAS “Dongli Academicians” and explained the reasons for this. However, now it is not only the academicians but also the whole Academy itself is severely crippled and unable to function. There are various reasons for this situation. The biggest reason is that the favrotisim based on locations, so to say localization of ANAS. People at ANAS practice favortisim without shame, but they also accuse those who dare to criticize divisiveness and discrimination. If you look at the background of the academics who hold top positions, you can see that majority of them are from Nakhchivan. Today, I saw a news that Isa Habibeyli receives a salary as an MP, director of the Institute of Literature, and vice-president of ANAS. But his titles are not limited to these. Isa Habibbayli is also the chairman of scientific councils in both humanities and social sciences. At a time when unemployment is so widespread in the country, a person without any special talent or merit “manages” several “scientific and political” positions.”
Situation in Ukraine
The recent developments in Ukraine caused debates on social platforms. Chairman of APFP Ali Karimli argued that even a successful military intervention would later turn against Russia’s own interests. Karimli wrote: Russia has gained valuable intelligence by creating a real threat of war. Now the Russian leadership is well aware that even if any military success is achieved in a possible military intervention in Ukraine, it will be a very expensive military success, a Pyrrhic victory, which will later turn against Russia itself. Russia will be severely isolated from the world, the socio-economic crisis will deepen, the new Cold War and the arms race will further weaken the Russian economy, which will be accompanied by sanctions, and internal discontent will increase. And in return for all these grave consequences, it will not be possible to completely subdue the Ukrainian people and reconcile them with the occupation. Needless to say, these inevitable consequences are known, the Russian leadership must abandon the war scenario. I understand that in recent months, the Russian government has intensified the war rhetoric to such an extent that now withdrawing without doing anything will lead to an inevitable loss of reputation. But the Russian leadership should consider it. First of all, the loss of reputation is more acceptable and less damaging than the country’s heavy losses. In any case, the Russian leadership’s refusal from the real war will comfort the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, their neighbors, and the whole world.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli reflected on Azerbaijani society’s reaction to the events in Ukraine, calling the Azerbaijani people “geopolitical people”. Gahramanli wrote: We have put aside the national will en masse and linked our destiny to geopolitics. Therefore, when there are widespread protests against the dictatorship in any country, there is a tendency to accept it not as a protest of a fed-up people but as a game of great powers, a secret scenario. As a nation, the best way to avoid responsibility is to take refuge in the mythical power of geopolitics, the myths of conspiracy theories. The government, like our people, is “geopolitical.” It doesn’t completely close the door with the West. If the pressure from the West intensifies, if Putin drowns in the swamp of Ukraine, only then do they think it is possible to take action on issues such as political prisoners, freedom of assembly, and so on. The government does not care about the situation of the people and the worsening socio-economic problems. Because the ruling elite believes that the future of the government depends not on the Azerbaijani people but on the geopolitical processes. We, as “geopolitical people”, strengthen this confidence of the government.”
Member of Milli Majlis Bahruz Maharramov suggested that the naming of shops, restaurants, or similar places after historical places should be banned. MP’s suggestion came after the name of the Azerbaijani team of humorist performers “Shusha” was changed into Buta. MP Maharromov argued that “everyone should learn a lesson and finally understand that claiming the name of Shusha should be at least as difficult as liberating Shusha from occupation.” Maharramov said: According to Article 50.1-1 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the names of prominent personalities of Azerbaijan cannot be used without the permission of their relatives or heirs. Why not apply the same approach to our historical place names? Using the same principles and similar law, the use of the name of our cities, our historical homelands should be regulated.”
January 28, 2022