Center for National and International Studies
“I will not stop the hunger strike. I will leave this prison either alive or dead.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties.
It has already been more than three weeks since political prisoner Saleh Rustamli has been on hunger strike as a protest against his illegal imprisonment. As Rustamli’s health deteriorates more, the FB community’s reaction grows to demand his release. However, the authorities have not yet acted on releasing him. Head of APFP Ali Karimli wrote that as Rustamli’s hunger strike weakened him physically and brought him to the brink of death, the injustice and cruelty shown to him shakes, weakens, and brings the regime to an end.” Karimli also asked Rustamli to stop the hunger strike.
Head of NCDF professor Jamil Hasanli expressed his anger with the government in his FB post: You are not only the biggest thieves in Azerbaijan but also the most skilled money launderers in the whole world. Your revenge against Saleh Rustamli, the most honest, truthful man, is because he stands against anything that you are. If Saleh Rustamli dies, it will be another bloody crime committed by the Aliyevs against the Azerbaijani people.”
Gultakin Hajibeyli expressed her worries about Rustamli amid serious health concerns. Hajibeyli warned the government that Rustamli would rather die instead of reconciling with the injustice. Hajibeyli also accused the government of killing late activist and political prisoner Gozal Bayramli. Although she was seriously ill, Bayramli was imprisoned, and in prison, she was denied medical treatment for three months. When she was finally released, it was too late, and Bayramli died soon after. Gultakin Hajibeyli also wrote: Let’s write to Putin en masse and ask for Saleh Bey’s release because Ilham Aliyev is doing what Putin wants, not the people of Azerbaijan. But there is also the issue that Saleh Bey is not Armenian, and his humanism is only for Armenians.”
The group of young party members and activists created a committee to protect the rights of Saleh Rustamli. The committee includes the members of the D18 Movement, the N!DA Civil Movement, the APFP Youth Committee, the Musavat Youth Organization, and the REAL Youth Union.
Javidan Gadirova, the mother of martyr Ingilab Gadirbeyli, joined the calls for Rustamli’s immediate release. Gadirova wrote: “If you keep silent when a war veteran is left to die, then you can not tell us ‘You lost a son, but thousands became your sons,’ ‘We are with you.’ We already know who is honest and who is not… Saleh Rustamli is a veteran too. So why don’t you raise your voice? Why aren’t you standing with him? “
Azadlig newspaper reports that Shahin Haji, an activist of the Ganja branch of the Popular Front Party, was once again detained by police. Haji has been repeatedly detained by police this year and has twice been detained for 30 days. Haji’s constant harassment by the police is due to his harsh criticism of the government on social media.
Governance, corruption, transparency
Head of APFP Ali Karimli wrote that the US calls for sanctions against Aliyev’s government. According to Karimli, the regime’s brutal treatment of Saleh Rustamli, who has been illegally detained and has been on a hunger strike for 20 days, is turning against the government. Karimli added that former US Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich called for sanctions for the release of Saleh Rustamli. In his tweet Kozlarich called for US sanctions. “The Baku regime acts with impunity – violating the human rights of its citizens. Time for the US to sanction those responsible for Rustamli‘s arrest and detention. Washington has the tools. It should use them.” tweeted the former ambassador.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reported that Israel had reduced the number of countries exporting cyber security programs from 102 to 37. The reason for this is the scandal that began last summer around the Pegasus spying software produced by the Israeli company NSO Group. The countries whose names have been removed from the list are authoritarian and totalitarian, which do not respect human rights. The Azerbaijani government used Pegasus, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to install the software on the targeted activists‘ mobile phones. Hajiyev added that his mobile number was among the numbers that the Azerbaijani government spied on using Pegasus. Hajiyev said that it would be a great loss for the government not being able to spy on him while looking at his hairy legs.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev also shared an investigation in which he has exposed the vast scale of corruption in the Minister of Labor and Social Protection. According to Hajiyev, Sahil Babayev, Minister of Labor and Social Protection, received $ 100 million in loans from the World Bank on behalf of the Azerbaijani state. However, Babayev transferred the amount to the offshore companies that he and his deputy Anar Karimov owns. Hajiyev added that while the pensions of disabled people, veterans, and elderly people are cut under the pretext of saving the state budget, the minister enriched his own bank account. Moreover, according to the investigation, Sahil Babayev’s deputy Anar Karimov‘s company, as a result of a government tender, received 30,000 manats to provide anti-corruption advice to the ministry. In addition to that, it was found out that as a result of tenders, the ministry had given the company an amount with a total estimated value of over one million manats, all in the name of providing advice to the ministry. Further investigation revealed that Sahil Babayev also handed over $ 9.2 million of the $ 100 million borrowed from World Bank to his deputy Karimov’s company Ekvita.
Post War Situation. Problems of veterans and families of the martyrs.
Azadlig newspaper reports that a trilateral meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was held in Sochi on November 26. Bilateral and trilateral meetings were held between the heads of state. After the three-hour meeting, the heads of state made a statement to the press in which Putin, Aliyev, and Pashinyan agreed to resolve the border demarcation mechanism by the end of the year. They also agreed to open communication lines such as roads and railways between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Azadlig newspaper reports that a veteran, Abdullayev Yagub Gulmammad oghlu, a resident of Garatepe village of Sabirabad region, was denied to receive compensation for the damage on his property. Abdullayev, who was enlisted during the first Karabak War, took part in the war of the last year by providing the army with weapons, food and transporting the bodies of the wounded and martyrs. Although his car broke down as a result of the operations, he was not able to receive compensation despite his complaints.
Economy and Social Issues.
On November 26, 43 Azerbaijani citizens were deported from Germany. The information was shared by the State Migration Service. According to the Migration Service, the process was carried out within the agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union on the readmission of persons residing without permission.
Reacting to the deportation, professor Altay Goyushov said that people leave the country for a better and free education. Goyushov wrote: There is no education, and people are required to pay for that education that doesn’t exist in the first place. Why would one flee to Germany? Because they know that their children will receive free education. They will receive free and good education over there.”
Head of ADW party Gubad Ibadoghlu reacted to the “worrying” change in the teaching curriculum. Ibadoghly wrote: Until 2016, the Constitution was taught in Azerbaijani secondary schools. However, as a result of “State standard and programs of general education” approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan on June 3, 2010, the teaching of the Constitution was suspended in the 2016-2017 academic year. Why? What is the purpose of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Education in suspending the teaching of the Constitution? Why are they worried about Azerbaijani citizens learning the constitutional rights ?” Ibadoghlu added that persons who do not know their constitutional rights and whose constitutional rights are not recognized are, in principle, deprived of “citizenship” rights. Ibadoghlu urged the authorities to bring the subject back to the curriculum and suggested including questions on Constitution in the state exams held by the State Examination Center.
Natig Jafarli of the REAL party criticized SOCAR for the recent mass dismissal carried out by the company. Hundreds of people have been fired under the pretext that “they have been released.” Jafarli wrote that SOCAR fired 1,674 workers, leaving them unemployed, and the state oil company doesn’t even admit it. Criticizing the term used by the company Jafarli wrote: It is as if the time of serfdom or a system of slavery, what kind of term is this ?!…they have returned to the “ostrich model” in all areas of governance.”
Journalist Ruzgar Movsum wrote an article about the crimes and discrimination against women that have persisted for many years. Based on his observations in Azerbaijan during recent years, Movsum came to a conclusion that unfortunately, like many people represented in the government, the majority of so-called intellectuals, lawyers, poets and writers, artists show almost no reaction and stay indifferent when an act of violence against women occurs. Movsumov added that it would be naive to expect common sense from these people who would argue that they were fighting to bring democracy and human rights to the country, while in reality, they did nothing.
November 30, 2021