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Stealing news from Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani Public TV channel Ictimai TV censored the question given by Reuters News Agency’s journalist to Loreen, Sweden’s representative for Eurovision.
The journalist asked about Loreen’s meeting with opposition groups, while the translator said she was asked about “how she feels after her performance”.
The Azeri version of the video can be found here.
APFP’s bureaucrat Tazakhan Miralamli, who was trying to bring food for his son. The deputy chief of Jalilabad police station hit and verbally abused Miralamli, then proceeding to arrest him.
Tazakhan Miralamli, chairman of APFP’s Jalilabad division, has been subjected to physical pressure and threatened. This took place on the morning of 3 July. Deputy chief of the station Eldar Safarov hit Tazakhan Miralamli, verbally abused him, and started to prepare to arrest him on charges of “showing restraing to the police”.
This is according to information given to Azadliq newspaper by Mr Miralamli himself.
Tazakhan Miralamli came to the police station in order to bring some food for his son Vasif Miralamli, who was arrested this April. Vasif Miralamov was taken to Jalilabad police station from Baku a few days ago, in order to take his testimony. When Tazakhan Miralamli arrived there, he was treated badly. He was not allowed to visit his son and the products he brought were not accepted. Later, the deputy chief of the police station Eldar Safarov started an argument with Tazakhan Miralamli and hit him.
In order to cover up the violence, Mr Safarov started the process of arresting Tazakhan Miralamli. The deputy chief, who knew that Miralamli would politicize and publicize the issue and make a complaint, created a false statement saying that the APFP bureaucrat showed restraint to police. He was kept at the police station for this “reason”.
Miralamli is currently being held at Jalilabad police station. After he informed Azadliq about the events, it was not possible to contact him. His mobile phone was probably confiscated from him at the police station.
The Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, which Mr Miralamli represents, says that local civil rights defenders have been informed about the situation. International organizations will be addressed to defend Miralamli.
Tazakhan Miralamli was also one of the protesters severly beaten during the 2 April protests.
Original in Azeri here [Azadliq]
On 28 June Diana Markosyan, photojournalist for Bloomberg, was held at Baku airport.
Emin Huseynov, director of Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, has been in contact with Markosyan, and tells AzadliqRadiosu (RFE/RL Azeri service) that Markosyan came to Baku in the early hours of 28 June, but was not permitted to go out of the airport. “Markosyan is dual citizen of America and Russia. She came to Baku with her Russian passport. Her documents are all in order.”
Elkhan Poluxov, head of the press office for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told AzadliqRadiosu that Markosyan did not have accreditation: “She sent her documents, presented herself. Bloomberg directors as well as Diana herself were told that her visit here would not be possible, the accreditation cannot go through – because problems may arise in accomodating her safety here. It was suggested that she be replaced by another journalist.”
Diana Markosyan told AzadliqRadiosu that she was told she will be deported to Istanbul at 8pm.
Photos taken by Markosyan have been published in newspapers such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
on 18 April 2011 Swedish journalists Charlie Laprevote, My Rohwedder Street and Charlotta Wijkström were held and deported from Baku, having come there to film a documentary about freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.
Original in Azeri [RFE/RL]
June 24 marks 56 years since the birth of Najaf Najafov – one of the leaders of the Azerbaijani national movement of the late 80s, founder and editor of the first independent newspaper in Azerbaijan today – “Azadliq”.
Najaf passed away on 17 December 1999, leaving a positive and bright memory in the minds of thousands of citizens of our country, as well as far beyond its borders.
Over the past 12 years many attempts have been made to assess the role and legacy of this man. It would be no exaggeration to say that Najaf Najafov laid the foundations of modern Azerbaijani journalism. He started these traditions during Soviet times, in the newspaper “Molodyozh Azerbaijana” (Youth of Azerbaijan) and continued them in “Azadliq” (Liberty).
This alone is enough to immortalize the name of this person. But perhaps Najaf’s biggest achievement was what he did to awaken our minds from totalitarian hibernation and transition them into values that are today known as universal and democratic.
“No man is a prophet in his own country” – the fate of this man just highlights the correctness of this expression and the principle of Thermidor, who was born during the French Revolution. He can also be compared to Gorky’s Danko, or the mythical Prometheus.
The fate of those who first think of others before themselves has many similarities. Such people rarely make a fortune, or live for their own pleasure. Their mission is self-sacrifice. Even if they try to be something different – pragmatic, shrewd – they feel uncomfortable. Self-sacrifice is a need, even a talent, for such people.
“The DNA carrier of integrity” – this is perhaps the best characterization of Najaf, by his colleague Israil Musaev.
I would characterize him as a passionary. Such people are rarely born, and their mission is to change the world (although passionaries are not often heroic characters.)
The philosophy of life and the world order are not built on the principles of justice and fairness. Passionaries and heroes stand at the forefront in difficult times, and are seen as holy and idolized. But difficulties pass and heroes become forgotten. Therefore, leaders and activists are often destined to imprisonment, persecution and suffering. Today’s political events are just more proof of this. The fate of Najaf is no exception.
Talented and gifted people are often born unnoticed and only when they part do we feel excruciating pain. The most common thought after that – how do we bring them back? Understanding that this intuitive sense is unrealizable, we recall what our mutual friend Hikmet Hajizadeh once said: “Najaf is gone, but one day a new Najaf will be born. This is the philosophy of life.”
Azeri police making an arrest at an opposition protest in the center of Baku, 2 April. Photo credits: HUMBATOVA/REUTERS. © STR New / Reuters/REUTERS
Determined to preserve the “Azeri model”, autocrat Ilham Aliyev harshly represses the protests which have multiplied under the influence of the Arab spring.
With his angelic face and his chic outfit, Eldar Gasimov became Azerbaijan’s idol overnight. Along with his partner Nigar Jamal, the young man won Eurovision 2011 on 14 May, inflating the whole country with pride. Since then, the two lovebirds have been scouring the trendy bars of Baku, taking advantage of their sudden and unexpected fame. He is a multilingual international relations student; she is married to a businessman and lives in London. A modern and cosmopolitan showcase of Azerbaijan, a land full of oil which smiles at foreign investors and is in search of respectability on an international level. The picture would have been almost perfect if, in this Muslim majority republic ruled by enlightened autocrat Ilham Aliyev, the wind of Arab revolutions had not started to blow. The last descendant of the Aliyev dynasty (his father was head of the KGB in soviet Azerbaijan before becoming leader of its communist party) has been in power for 8 years and follows every movement of protest. Within a few weeks, several demonstrations have been suppressed and their leaders sent to prison. “The opposition has become a kind of business. It is run by people who do not support our country in carrying out an independent policy and asserting its European values,” laments Samad Seyidov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament. A list of the threatening neighbors of Azerbaijan: Russia, the former tutelary power, to the north, nuclear Iran to the south, unstable Central Asia to the east, Turkey to the west, but most importantly Armenia, accused of illegally occupying Nagorno Karabakh through its “omnipotent” diaspora. Willing to go to war, the public opinion is also pushing the Azeri government to regain by force the territory it lost after a war in 1994.
Fortunately, thanks to the equivalent of one million barrels of oil pumped out of its soil each day, Azerbaijan has indebted countries. The country, which already ships its crude oil to the Mediterranean through the BTC pipeline, is also expected to become a hub of the Nabucco pipeline project, sponsored by Europe. Placed in a sovereign wealth fund, oil revenues – $30 billion expected in late 2011 – fund infrastructure and Azeri foreign exchanges students. who, once they return home, drive along the seashore in 4×4 cars. Meanwhile President Ilham Aliyev, whose fathers photographs have their special place in many streets of Baku, is accused of drifting into a monarchy. “The human rights situation is only getting worse,” says Idrak Abassov, one of the most active opposition journalists, who partly gets his resources from the intelligentsia. The regime, moralized by Europe, has recently made some concessions. Nevertheless it remains committed to preserving the “Azeri model.”
Original in French – Le Figaro
Imprisoned youth activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s mother Solida Movlayeva placed her membership to New Azerbaijan Party on the grave of the late ex-president Heydar Aliyev.
She stated that she left the ruling party as a sign of protest against her son’s imprisonment.
Soon after, law enforcement agents arrived at the scene and detained Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s mother and a cameraman from IRFS. According to AzadliqRadiosu‘s reporter who was at the scene, the law enforcement agents stated that Solida Movlayeva and the IRFS worker were detained in order to clarify the situation.
In atelephone interview to AzadliqRadiosu, Ms Movlayeva said that she was taken to the Presidential Administration Headquarters for questioning and was told that she was detained because her foot crossed the threshold to Heydar Aliyev’s grave. She added that she joined the New Azerbaijan Party in 1995 of her own free will, as she wanted Heydar Aliyev’s party to have one more member. Seeing the injustices taking place today, she wanted to return the membership to Heydar Aliyev.
After half an hour of questioning, Solida Movlayeva was released. IRFS’s video footage was erased.
Information taken from RFE/RL Azeri Service. Article in Azeri, along with a video, can be found here.
Eynulla Fatullayev’s first published article since his release from prison.
I’ve been free for some time now. The idea of freedom seems far-fetched, strange, alien to my mind. I find it difficult to take freedom for granted, because my perception of it is still a struggle for freedom, which completely engulfed my consciousness in a place where there was no sun and moon, no sunrise and sunset, no life, no death…
I have lost all sense of time; it’s so hard, yet so easy for me to feel the call of the times again. Call of the times… I seem to understand that the primary blame is on the government. It took away my freedom. I fought for the future, they fought for the past – which always seems to be the present to them. Time and the burden of responsibility separate us, and between us is the deepest abyss: there lie the remains of our destroyed freedom.
Since the day I was freed, I have felt like the prisoner of some mythological, forced freedom. In my new life I am trying to find the answer to another question: can a person find freedom in an unfree country?
And how does someone who has found unexpected but sacred freedom continue to live in an unfree country? Maybe we are still unable to really grasp and understand freedom, the fundamental value of the grand old lady Europe, because we pine away and continue to suffer in the clutches of Asian rulers, armed as always with the Tatar Horde whip? But in our eyes, this bloody whip crackles and breaks up under the feet of Arab intelligentsia which, with a lungful of Europe’s freedom, decided to do away with the ghost of the despotic caliphate that once rebelled against the anointed lords, “saviors” and “liberators” of the enslaved peoples. So, it’s worth living and believing. Living and fighting. Maybe our faith will hasten the day of deliverance.
For now, we have the day of the deliverance of just one Azeri, one journalist, one person. From the day of my release, I have incessantly repeated this aphorism coined by Azeri dissidents:
“Unlike the European who continues to struggle for victory, the Azeri stops the fight after his first disappointment.”
We must learn from Europeans the philosophy of peaceful and nonviolent struggle for the triumph of our values – for someone who shares Azerbaijan and Europe is doomed to a terrible and monstrous oil curse.
I have been delivered and with a deep sense of gratitude I want to address my saviors – Thomas Hammarberg and Tornbornu Jagland, Miklos Haraszti and Dunja Mijatovic , Peter Semneby and Matthew Bryza, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Group, and finally to all my colleagues from Western countries, and again I want to thank you – for helping me feel time, for helping me see the Sun…
Of course, had it not been for you, had it not been for the Council of Europe, perhaps someday, many years later, I would touch freedom. But with your help we brought that day closer – you did not let them erase me and turn me into dust. You turned a fairytale into reality.
So can a free man live in an unfree country? He can. If he believes in a fairytale where Evil never triumphs.
By Eynulla Fatullayev.
Original in Russian here [RFE/RL Blogs]
On 26 May president Ilham Aliyev signed a pardon decree. Editor-in-chief of “Realny Azerbaijan” and “Gundelik Azerbaycan” newspapers is among the 84 people on the list.
In an interview to Azadliq Radiosu (RFE/RL Azeri service), Eynulla Fatulayev’s father Emin Fatullayev said how happy he was to hear that his son has been freed: “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. We’re very happy. I will go to see him tomorrow.”
In an interview he gave to Azadliq Radiosu upon leaving prison, Eynulla Fatullayev said that he is still trying to process what has happened. He said that, considering the reality of the situation in Azerbaijan, the pardon is both miraculous and legally justified.
Fatullayev says that he did not address anyone for the pardon: “I never made a plea for a pardon, but two months ago I wrote a letter addressed personally to Ilham Aliyev. In that letter I mentioned our national moral values, and thought that he would release me after that. This is the first time I’ve spoken about this, and somewhere it prompted a reaction. In fact my release is a result of that immediate reaction.”
Eynulla Fatullayev thanked international and national organizations, journalists and public representatives for his freedom.
Upon being asked whether he will continue to be active as a journalist, he said that this does not depend on him: “If there is a guarantee on my life and activity, I will remain in Azerbaijan and work.”
Audronius Ažubalis (OSCE representative and Lithuania’s minister of foreign affairs) and Dunja Mijatović (OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media) have welcomed the news of Eynulla Fatullayev’s pardon. Audroniuns Ažubalis said that this is an important signal to all countries within the OSCE, and called on all member states to comply with their commitments to freedom of the media and release all imprisoned journalists.
Matthew Bryza also phoned Eynulla Fatullayev to congratulate him upon his release.
Original in Azeri here [RFE/RL].
Last night Azerbaijan came first in the annual “money-spending” competition, EUROvision. I don’t want to say anything about the pair that represented the country. Good luck to the both of them.
10 million was spent on Safura last year. Those 10 million could have been spent on increasing teachers’ wages, or repairing orphanages. Even the crumbling walls, the wrecked toilets and the war-torn wards at Republic Hospital… Who knows how much they spent this year. How much they paid people to make sure Azerbaijan wins – that’s another question. Who gives a damn how much they spent anyway! As if the money would have been spent on us had it not been for Eurovision? It’s not like they ever increase wages or lay down pavements for the people’s welfare. Whatever they do, they do for themselves. The other day when I was going to Binagadi, about half way there (at that section of the road they were asphalting a road) a taxi driver said that a relative of Rovnag Abdullayev’s had died and was buried at Mehdiabad, and the last time he went to visit the grave he didn’t like the road the way it was and instantly said that it must be re-asphalted. Long story short, everything is for them.
I digress. The night they won, the streets of Baku were overflowing with people celebrating. People rejoiced, people cried. Some sent Turkish love songs to their high school sweethearts, with with whom they once shared a romantic Doner in the park; some called their mothers in tears of joy; but for the majority it was another night of hunger. Another night of falling asleep with the image of the shoes their father can’t, and never will, afford to buy them etched in their minds. Ilham Aliyev, on the other hand, rang Elik to congratulate him. As though in the last 8 years he has done everything but congratulate Elik.
If one day you tell those people who went wild on the streets, come – let’s demand out rights, they’ll look for a hole to crawl into.
Listening to interviews with people who took to the streets to celebrate these last couple of days confirmed that, the more you belittle them, the more you insult them, the better it is. There are some who say, “May we watch Eurovision in Shusha next year”, those who say “this is another step towards the liberation of Karabakh”… And there are those who say that this is a result of the successful home and foreign policy that Heydar Aliyev built and Ilham Aliyev carried through. I agree with the latter. This is the result of a successful home and foreign policy. This topic can be discussed for days on end, but it’s better if I leave it there.
Finally, our king managed to conquer Europe, too.
The saddest thing is that democracy was beaten by dictatorship… By monarchy…
Original in Azeri on Baxram’s Blog
An incident has occured at the the 2nd campus of Baku State University (BSU). According to azxeber.com, a student who was standing outside the 2nd campus building was viciously attacked by guards for reading “Yeni Musavat” newspaper.
The news portal’s workers have met with the student in relation to this incident. Rufat Aliyev, a student at Western University, has spoken about what happened in detail: “I was supposed to give my teacher papers at the university entrance. As I am not a BSU student, they only allowed me to wait at the door. So I was quietly waiting for the teacher. Suddenly someone who presented himself as the chief guard approached me and saw the “Yeni Musavat” paper I was holding. This person grabbed my arm and pushed me, saying, “What’s this newspaper you’re reading? You couldn’t find another one to read?” I said that I didn’t see a reason for this, and that everyone has a right to read newspapers. They ignored this and tried to take me outside, acting rough towards me.”
The student says that they even wanted to take him to the police station. R. Aliyev, who is not a member of any party, says that they checked his ID, too: “Yes, I told them that I was only there to give the teacher resources for a class. And they rightly asked me to wait at the door as I didn’t have a student card. I agreed. But, having seen the “Yeni Musavat” newspaper in my hand, they became aggressive towards me.”