Center for National and International Studies
“By targeting Azerbaijan, who is Israel’s closest ally in the region, with this terror attack, the Iranian regime sends a message to Israel and Azerbaijan that it is ready for any kind of unexpected responses…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The “Defence Line” Human Rights Organization shared a statement saying that activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who has been on hunger strike for 21 days in protest against his illegal arrest, is facing discrimination. The lawyers of Hajiyev were not admitted to the detention center due to “disinfection work”. However, in his meeting with family members, Hajiyev said that there was no disinfection work in the detention center. After Hajiyev objected to this situation and filed an official application stating that he would go on a dry hunger strike, they created conditions for a short-term telephone conversation. According to the lawyer Agil Layij, Hajiyev has lost 12.5 kg, often loses consciousness, and cannot move without help. Layij said that an application was made to the Chief Medical Department of the Ministry of Justice to allow an independent doctor to examine Hajiyev‘s health. “Since Bakhtiyar Hajiyev‘s health is of great concern to us, we have applied to the Ministry of Justice and the Chief Medical Department of that Ministry asking Bakhtiyar to be examined by a doctor of his choice. Our concern is that even a simple medical analysis is not taken at the detention center. This seriously worries his family and friends. Bakhtiyar did not choose to die, and he demands justice. And those who insist on injustice are those who drag him to death…”
The European Court of Human Rights shared its report for 2022. Azerbaijan has one of the worst rankings in several categories, including the stifling of freedom, persecution of people, and violation of immunity. Previously the US State Department issued its annual report on Human Rights in which Azerbaijan was among the countries with significant human rights issues, including unlawful or arbitrary killing, torture, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by members of the security forces.
Attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran
On January 27, around 7:00 am local time, a man armed with a Kalashnikov rifle assaulted the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Tehran, killing the head of security and injuring two guards. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan released a statement calling the attack “a treacherous attack” and adding the investigation is currently underway. The head of Tehran Police stated that the armed attack on the Embassy occurred on the grounds of family matters. In its statement, the police noted that the gunman came to the Embassy with his two children to look for his wife. The remains of the head of security Orkhan Asgarov, who lost his life as a result of the attack, were brought to Baku, and the employees of the Embassy left Iran. The attack came amid months-long tensions between the two neighboring countries. This is the third attack on Azerbaijani embassies in recent months. The first attack was in London when a radical religious group attacked and briefly occupied Azerbaijan’s Embassy in London and the second was in Paris when Armenian protestors attacked the building of the Embassy.
Member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Fuad Gahramnali said that the attack was carried out in full knowledge of the Iranian regime to warn the Azerbaijani government. “It is noteworthy that this incident took place yesterday at the same time when the largest-ever joint military exercise between the United States and Israel was held. In addition to the ships, 142 aircraft, including B-52 strategic bombers and F-35s, are participating in this exercise. On this scale, the training is clearly evaluated as preparation for operations against Iran, and Tehran, in turn, feels the impending danger. Therefore, by targeting Azerbaijan as Israel’s closest ally in the region with this terror attack, the Iranian regime sends a message to Israel and to Azerbaijan that it is ready for all kinds of unexpected responses. In a less likely scenario, Russian special services may be involved in this terrorist act. After Antony Blinken’s call to Ilham Aliyev, there is a possibility that the Brussels negotiations may resume and that Azerbaijan, which has been facing international pressure in recent days, will stop the protests on the road to Lachin. This has caused concern in Moscow that the tension in the region will decrease and an atmosphere of dialogue will be created, and thus Russia will remain offside. Therefore, Russia may try to aggravate the situation in the region again by organizing such a terrorist attack that inflames the tension between Azerbaijan and Iran.”
Governance and Corruption
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoglu said that the situation in the region has become much more complicated and the Azerbaijani government must be careful with its foreign policy. “The targeting of Iranian military facilities by drones of unknown origin and the explosions mainly in South Azerbaijan was expected. Because Iran has made itself a target by entering into a military alliance with Russia and with its violent attitude towards internal peaceful protests. The authoritarian regimes in Russia and Iran will not be able to maintain the current status quo, and they will both collapse. However, in the current situation, the expected changes in this direction increase both the importance and the responsibility of the South Caucasus region. Let’s not forget that South Caucasus countries are the weakest links in this game. It seems that Aliyev has already made Azerbaijan one of the parties in this game in order to maintain his power, and the current course of events increases the dangers and risks.”
Tural Alyshanli, the former head of “TUA TT” LLC, which won the tender held by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection in 2016 for the construction of houses for the veterans of the Karabagh war, has been in prison for more than three years. He is accused of misappropriating the allocated funds. 37-year-old Alyshanli says that this accusation was made up and the real reason for his arrest was that he demanded money from the Ministry that should be transferred to the company’s account in accordance with the conditions of the contract between the Ministry and the company. According to the terms of the 893,000 manat contract concluded with the Ministry in June 2016, 13 individual residential houses were to be built and handed over in Masalli, Astara, Lankaran, and Lerik districts. The accused Alyshanli says that part of this amount was transferred, and the construction works were carried out. The houses were built and handed over to their new owners. However, the Ministry refused to pay the rest of the payment. “I met with Deputy Minister Vusal Nasirli. He conveyed his message that instead of 154 thousand manats, only 20 thousand manats would be given, or I won’t get anything at all. I didn’t agree with him and complained to various authorities. I brought this matter to the attention of the public on TVs and radios. After that, minister Sahil Babayev sent a letter to the Prosecutor General’s Office with false accusations against me, and I was arrested shortly after that…”
The workers who worked in reconstruction work in Karabagh complain about the delay of payments. Samir Mahmudov, a former employee of Interservice Group, told Meydan TV that although they were assured that they would soon receive their salaries, they have not been paid yet. “We have been working in road construction in Kalbajar since April 1, 2022. On the eve of the clashes in September, we left the area because it was dangerous. We were told that there was no reason to worry and that our salaries would be paid. But the salaries of the last few months were not paid.”
January 31, 2023