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Center for National and International Studies
The central topics these days were police violence in Yasamal district last weekend, continued attempts to deepen frictions within opposition with the help of leaked videos, human rights violations and persecution of activists, the roof protest action of Giyas Ibrahimov ( Giya Sol) , the new government decree about criminal liability for violation of the quarantine rules, new cases of domestic violence in Kurdamir region.
The activists and journalists continue to discuss the police violence against the people who threw garbage on the police car. Khadija Ismayil, an investigative journalist writes the chronology of the events in Yasamal district. “The government announced the strict lockdown on weekend. During this lockdown people who needed urgent dialyses in the clinics failed to reach them on the phone. The aid for the people who needed food and medicine was not arranged. People could not go out to throw the garbage or walk the dogs. Full isolation without declaring the state of emergency. People were locked in the Summer heat. Some violated the rules coming out to get some fresh air just in front of the entrances. On the 7th June a number of people were detained for standing outside of their homes. The police applied excessive force while detaining the citizens. People who watched this violence protested by throwing water and garbage onto police car. The next day early morning the police came back as a special police force detachment. It started to break in people’s flats, taking them out of beds in the brutal and humiliating way, taking them bear foot and semi-naked to the police cars. All these happened before the eyes of the children and old people, who were also the subjects of attack. All 11 people, who were detained were brought to the police station 29 , were severely beaten and tortured forced to give confessions, and brought to the court, where they were sentenced to 15 days in prison. Some of the worst of policemen recorded it all on the video and placed it in the internet humiliating people’s dignity. This was made with the purpose to intimidate the population! We have a failed state, she concludes, where police is suing its power for vendetta against the population and there are no any civil mechanisms for the protection of people from the state terror” Ulvi Hasanli asks, how come that people can put the corrupt bureaucrat to the garbage bin in Ukraine, but cannot throw garbage at the police who exceeded their authority in Azerbaijan? Hebib Muntazir promises to investigate all participants of the police violence, he states, that all of them including the interior minister Vilayet Eyvazov should report to the people and apologized for the incident. Bakhtyar Hajiyev comments on the statement by the pocket opposition MP Fazil Gazanfaroglu, that the police violence is justified due to the conditions of war with the other state, that the police behaviour reminded him of Khojali (the massacre of civilians in Khojali town of Nagorno Karabagh by the Russian-Armenian troops in 1992). He connects it to the informational “ war” in Karabagh conflict and how it might be used by the other party against Azerbaijan. He calls all of those who participated in the dragging semi-naked people out of their beds, beating them, torturing- the criminals. In addition, those detained were simply the ones, who were pointed to by the administrator of the building complex and whom she did not get along with. TofigYagublu in his telephone conversation with the daughter Nigar from the prison contrasts the government reaction in the US to the police killing of the George Floyd and that to the police arbitrariness in Yasamal, as an example of the difference between the government behaviour in the democratic and authoritarian state. The group of public figures and lawyers appealed to the court in connection with the police violence against the citizens in Yasamal district on the 8th June 2020. The National Council came up with the statement condemning the police violence. They call it “mass violence, application of inadequate force and humiliation of the people’s dignity”. It demands the regime of Aliyev to stop practice of behaving as an occupant and treating population as POWs. It also states that this behaviour violates a few articles of the Constitution. The National Council expresses its protest to this immoral, barbarian and unhuman action on behalf of the state and demands punishment of those responsible, and the Ministry of Interior — to ask an apology before the Azerbaijani people. People share the videos with interview of one of the detained Karim Suleymanli, whose face and body has traces of beating and tortures. Police asserts that he was not tortured but was taken by force because he “resisted police”. Activists comment that this does not sound convincing because Suleymanli just a montn ago had a surgery of kidney removal and could not resist a big group of policemen. Ilkin Rustamzade comments on the statement by Ehsan Zahidov (spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior ) who threated the activists. He states, that none of the activists whom he threatened called for violence or confrontation, in contrary- the violence and confrontation is displayed by the state, which behaves as an occupant. He calls the activists the buffer between the state and the unhappy population, who would be the only ones saving policemen from the angry crowds. But, he continues, if you are so eager to confront people directly, do eliminate your buffer and nobody will prevent you from the encounter with angry crowd. He also shares the deep trauma he received watching the events in Yasamal district and writes that he hardly breathes, cannot eat, cannot any more accept the country’s reality and it is totally undermines his spirit. The Russian speaking FB groups divided- some of them were defending police, some- the people.
FB users discuss the new decree of the prime- minister Ali Asadov about criminal liability of the people who violated the quarantine rules. Yadigar Sadyghli comments that since when the cases of criminal liability of people is determined by the government and the premier – is not this the authority of the parliament? Hezi Bey compares the country’s governance to the cartoon and calls it the “Operative Headquarters type of governance”. Seymur Hezi considers that the overreaction of the authorities to the recent events is caused by their anxiety related to the underestimation of the international reaction to violence against peaceful citizens as means of intimidation. He considers that the main message about strong international reaction was contained in the interview to the radio Freedom with the PACE special rapporteur on Azerbaijan Stephan Schennach.
Ali Karimli quotes his words that this is a horrible event and the police crossed all the “red lines” in this incident in Yasamal district of Baku and that this is an unhuman behaviour totally contradicting people’s human rights.
The issue of the altered ( as it appeared later) video of the PFP board meeting, which was leaked to the internet and social networks started to be widely reacted to and shared between Musavat members. The activists were shocked and indignant by the insults to the Musavat party allegedly voiced by the high level PFP functionaries, such as Seymur Hezi, who has two close relatives in Musavat party. Mutual condemnations lasted until the statement by Seymur Hezi, that the video’s soundtrack was altered and does not reflect the ideas of Hezi expressed at the board meeting. Natig Jafarli in the context of Giyas Ibrahimov’s protest action criticizes reaction of some members of the Popular Front Party, saying that it always impedes social movements by their politicization and suggests to discuss this idea. The public leaders continue to react to the previously illegally recorded and leaked video of the National Council’s meeting. Tale Baghirzade, a political prisoner and the leader of the Muslim Unity Movement, made a statement in support of the National Council, asserting that the latter is a successful model of accommodating both believers and non-believers and that they all shared the same values of democracy , human rights, Azerbaijan’s independence and territorial integrity.
The issue of persecution of activists remains actual. Nurlan Libre reports hijacking the members of the Muslim Unity Movement Alik Aslanov by the police from the streets of Baku and gave him an administrative detention for 15 days in Imishli region. He also mentions that this coincides with his letter to the president demanding opening the mosques. People share video by Meydan TV where the policeman plants something ( apparently drugs in the pocket of the detained person. Isa Gambar reports about the meeting of the National Strategic Think Tank and posts its statement resulting from this meeting. It tells that the participants of the meeting discussed the events last weekend – the government’s crossing all the limits, both legal and moral inadmissibility of the violence, cruelty and humiliation of its citizens, and the necessity to hold those who involved in these acts responsible. It also called the respective state agencies, while implementing the measures related to quarantine to avoid any actions on humiliation of the dignity of the citizens and conduct them only in accordance with human rights, and in order to provide for the public oversight- suggests to create Public Committee, consisting of experts, representatives of civilsociety and political parties. Rasul Jafarov of REAL posts video with the interview of the mother of Amil Mahmudov, one of the victims of the police actions in Yasamal district, who received 15 days of administrative arrest.
Gunel Movlud comments on the latest horrifying case of domestic violence in the Kurdamir region. The former husband had dragged his 24 year old wife tied to his tractor in the field and then burned the mother of their two children, the oldest of which is 6 years old, two times. The doctors in the hospital reported that there is no hope, as 90% of her skin is burned. She comments, that the reason why she was a victim is that some parents try to get rid of daughters as early as possible and did not protect her, when there was threat, sending her back to the violent ex-husband.
FB users continue to discuss poor governance in the conditions of pandemic. Hebib Muntazir speaks about lack of trust in the state institutions and reports two contradictory decisions adopted one the next day after another about air conditioning in the public transport. On the 10th June TABIB made a decision to limit utilization of the air conditioning systems in the public transport due to the risks related to the spread of the virus, but on the 11th June TABIB adopted the opposite decision allowing air conditioning systems. Gozel Bayramli of PFP comments on the statement by Ziyafet Asgerov that Azerbaijan may leave Council of Europe, saying that every time when the domestic situation gets tense, they start to blackmail international organizations. Ali Karimli writes about pressure of the government on the member of the local governance body of the Kholgaragashli village of the Neftchala region Vafa Nagi. Her brother was fined 100 manats and called to the court without any reason. She suspects that her brother might be detained and connects it to her activities. Vafa Nagi is targeted by local authorities due to her publicising of the problems of the village, poor governance of the head of municipality etc. Even the police warned the locals to cut off relations with her. PFP strongly supports Vafa Nagi and demands punishment of those who put pressure on her.
The bloggers, activists, journalists widely share the video with the individual protest action by Giyas Ibrahimov arranged at the roof of the high rise, where he lives. He hanged a big poster from the roof on the wall calling for people’s awakening and also pronounced slogans in the megaphone. Rabiyya Mammadova -the feminist activist -called him a national hero. FB users share the poster with the mother of Giyas Ibrahimov, who tells: “ My son protested and he did a good job!” Earlier his mother Shura Amiraslanova threatened to commit suicide if they put him in prison again, as if she has nothing to lose anymore. Aytaj Tapdiq stresses the courage of the journalist Aysel Umudova who was with Giyas all the time on the roof recording his action on the video-camera.
Economic experts continue to discuss the consequences of pandemic. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR reports the unification of 5 state employment agencies of a few districts in one, resulting in laying off 70 employees of these agencies. They include IDPs and parents with many children. He compares the funds given to the administrative support of the employment agencies – 43 mln manat, and only 5 mln manat to the insurance of the unemployed, and calls it unjust. He also mentions that this reform is connected to the financial difficulties of the state.