Center for National and International Studies



The FB users shared and discussed the following topics: the state of health of the human rights defender Oktay Gulaliyev, the round table of opposition arranged by Musavat, reforms in the structure of REAL party and the resignation of the chair of REAL’s  Majlis Azer Gasimli, the course on reforms by the government, newly appointed head of presidential administration Samir Nuriyev. The FB users continue to share and ridicule the statements and quotes by the MPs, contrasting them in the collages to the poverty conditions of the population, another death from the car accident of the woman- street cleaner, the budget funds, which the government will spend in election year.

The state of health of human rights defender Oktay Gulaliyev is in the center of attention. It is reported that his condition from the degree come has been changed to the 2nd degree coma and that the Turkish doctors consider the chances of survival only 20%. The FB users share information that Heydar Aliyev Foundation has offered to provide for medical service. The FB users shared photos with the human rights defender being flied to Turkey for treatment. Some journalists and activists consider the fact of support by Heydar Aliyev foundation unacceptable and a failure of people to collect enough money for his treatment, while others consider the opposite- that the money in the Heydar Aliyev;s foundation is people’s money anyway, so they should be spent on the treatment of Gulaliyev. The users also shared the information about continuing repressions, especially the situation with the arrested journalist and the PFP activist Shamistan Heziyev ( Hezi Bey), who was not allowed to get warm clothes from his father, put in one prison cell with drug addicts and prisoners with hepatitis and HIV. The NIDA movement leader, former political prisoner  Ilkin Rustamzade writes on his timeline: “When I read about tortures of Tofig Yagublu, or what they have done to the journalist Shamistan Heziyev, I am shivering, and turn my eyes away from the telephone screen…and think – how can a human being be so shameless, cruel and horrible? And even more – how can we keep silence in reaction to that?”

The journalist in exile Natig Adilov reports: “ The daughter of our war veteran, handicapped political prisoner Asif Yusifli got into a diabetic coma… Where is this misfortune from??”

The FB users actively discuss and comment on the round table which took place on the 5th November by the initiative of the Musavat party. The round table brought together mainly the leaders of the “ traditional” opposition: Arif Hajili of Musavat party, Ali Kerimli of Popular Front Party, Panah Huseyn of Azerbaijan People’s Party, former minister of health and ex-political prisoner Ali Insanov, director of independent news agency Turan Mehman Aliyev, former chair of the Musavat Party Isa Gambar, democracy and civil activist Hikmet Haji-zade. The participants gave a press-conference, where spoke about new political situation in the country and of necessity of coordination and unification. Isa Gambar mentioned that they prioritize the sense of responsibility, and that parties should stop mutual accusation. He also suggested a functional cooperation, asserting that parties are different, but this does not prevent them from uniting around certain goals ( like freedoms, rule of law, Karabagh or other issues). Ali Kerimli spoke of fake nature of reforms, as the old officials are simply replaced by their relatives,
the repressions  and importance of coordination. He confirmed that his party follows this in practice- that they have held 3 public rallies jointly with Musavat.

 And suggested that inter-party quarrels and blamings should stop. He said, that such coordination/unification can take place around possible reforms, promotion  of political freedoms, or Karabagh issue. Mehman Aliyev of Turan spoke about systemic crisis in the country and that without restoration of human rights, political freedoms and democracy it would not be possible to get out of this crisis. He also reported about few formats of unification in both media and civil society areas. Hikmet Haci-zade has agreed with the previous speeches and in addition suggested to adopt four appeals: to the people, the Western Democracies ( not to turn blind eye on HR violations), to the government ( to comply with Constitution laws and conventions, fight corruption and listen to people’s voice)  and to the democratic activists ( follow ethical norms). He also called fake the idea of the authorities of necessity of “new” opposition. Panah Huseyn spoke about importance of the 19 October rally and that the most important task is to make the average citizen politically active. He also spoke about necessity of unification, even if it requires the refusal of the name “opposition”, so to be called instead for instance- the National Movement for Democracy. He also said that referrals to the past should stop and be left for the history.  Then the second, closed part started, as a result of which the participants adopted the statement, where all these issues were reflected. The round table caused passionate debates in social network. Some users called it a failure, ridiculing the round table and first of all the composition. They especially targeted two not popular personalities, such as ex-health minister Ali Insanov (notoriously corrupt figure), and the ex-prime minister in 1992-1993 Panah Huseyn, and also that they were no new faces at the table. The others more pragmatically assessed the round table as a successful attempt of unification and coordination of the opposition, and mentioned that REAL’s leader Ilgar Mammadov also received an invitation, but could not come, as he was abroad. The participants of the debates, such as Ramis Yunus, the political commentator in exile, stated that inclusion of those two people in the round table discredited the event and the opposition. In turn, Hikmet Hacizade quoted the recent speech of Obama, calling for being less judgemental and to understand that politics is not a pure affair, and that those personalities have certain electorate.

FB users actively discuss another sensational news – a resignation of the prominent activist of REAL party- chairman of Majlis Azer Gasimli, which followed  structural reforms of the party by the chair of the party, former political prisoner Ilgar Mammadov. Two days earlier there were abolished the leading structures of the party the  Board and the Majlis, as well as the Revision Commission, replacing it with the Political Committee, which will be elected at the Congress. The chair of the party will be elected not by the Congress but by the Committee.  Commenting on changes, Azer Gasimli in his press conference he mentioned the trend towards authoritarian style of leadership by the chair of the party, besides his disagreements with the chair over holding the extraordinary party congress, and  over principle of formation of local branches of the party. In his interview, he also  mentioned that nobody explained him why the authorities suddenly decided to register the party. Azer Gasimli stated, that he leaves not the REAL “family”, but Ilgar’s Mammadov’s REAL. Altay Geyushov, another REAL activist, mentioned that so far the governing board of REAL was very successful, arguing that all decisions since its creation were correct, including the one not to join the National Council. Along with some other REAL activists, he defends  reforms in the party and consider that those who do not support Ilgar Mammadov will only make Aliyev benefit.

The FB users discuss the updated by the Azerbaijani Union on Freedom for Political Prisoners  number of political prisoners, which reached 135, as well as the last report by Freedom House about the freedom of internet.

The readers widely comment with irony on the president Aliyev’s statement, that the old parts of the city were destroyed. The FB users ask how come that he did not know, if some of these buildings belong to his family –  as a rule referring to the big hotel by the Old Walls  “4 Seasons”, which blocks the whole view of the old city.

The feminist and activist Rabiyya Mammadova writes on her timeline: “ Here is another death “on the road to the country’s speedy development” of the woman- street cleaner hit by the car… How many women-high way cleaners should die before the government starts paying attention to this issue???”

The deputy chairman of the PFP Gozel Bayramli discusses the budget money, which the government plan to spend in year 2020 ( year of parliamentary election) to the social protection of unemployed and provision them with temporary employment ( read- “trolling”- writes Bayramli)  159, 8 mln manats, which is two times more than in year 2019. The policy of financing trolls under this title started in 2019. The amount indicates that policy built on trolling will be one of the priorities next year… The money for child benefits are still not found by the government”

The FB users share the information about the exhibition by the architect Elchin Aliyev – on the  details of facades of the old 19th early 20th century historical buildings which were destroyed in Baku in order to build new objects- with horror and regret.

Sharing of collages, quotations of the Azerbaijan;s parliament MPs continues accompanied by strong critical commentaries. For instance, the quotation from Bahar Muradova:” Everyone should keep oneself within their confinements. The population should learn to live in poverty” and her photo are put next to the photo of the old and poor woman  selling herbs in the street. The users ridicule quotation from MP Ali Ahmedov which says, that “opposition in exile with its dirty propaganda pours water on the Armenian’s mill”. At the same time, the video spread via FB shows how police has detained the person who started to demand return of Karabagh from the statue of the Heydar Aliyev ( the former president).

November 7, 2019

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