Saturday, September 10

Azerbaijan developments ahead of September Referendum

Looks like this list will just get longer and longer. 

I started compiling list of arrested, detained (as well as released) activists in Azerbaijan since August ahead of the upcoming referendum. 

It is work in progress. 

Natig Jafarli arrested August 13, 2016 (REAL movement)- sentenced to 4 months in pretrial detention; charges: illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power (Released September 9, ; 

*Bakhtiyar Hajiyev fined in the amount of 100AZN for "petty hooliganism";

Elgiz Gahraman, arrested August 13, 2016 (N!DA)- sentenced to 4 months in pretrial detention on charges of drug possession (later interrogated for alleged links to Gulen movement); 

Elshen Gasimov arrested August 15, 2016 (REAL movement)- sentenced to 7 days in administrative detention for resisting police [released];

Togrul Ismayilov arrested August 15, 2016 (REAL movement)- sentenced to 7 days in administrative detention for resisting police [released]; 

Turgut Gambar detained August 18, 2016 (N!DA)- released; 

Aytac Ahmadova detained August 18, 2016 (journalist)- released;

Ilgar Valiyev detained August 18, 2016 (journalist)- released; 

Parviz hashimli detained August 18, 2016 (journalist, former political prisoner)- released but fined for "petty hooliganism" in the amount of 50AZN;

Fuad Ahmadli August 18, 2016 (Popular Front Party member)- accused of abuse of power; appeal on pre-trial detention is rejected on Aug 24. In addition Ahmadli was accused of Article 302 and 308 of the Criminal Code, violation of the criminal investigation activity and abuse of power respectively. Police also tried linking Ahmadli's case to Gulen investigations accusing him for providing Gulen network with personal information of mobile phone subscribers while Ahmadli worked as call center operator at Azerfon. 

Gadim Bakirov August 18, 2016 (Popular Front Party member)- sentenced to 25 days in administrative detention;

Vasif Fatiyev August 19, 2016 (Popular Front Party member) detained then released August 22; 

Samir Ibrahim August 20, 2016 (Musavat party member) detained then released the same day; 

Novruz Guluzade August 20, 2016 (Azerbaijan Nation Party)- detained then released the same day; 

Faig Amirli August 20, 2016 (Azadliq Newspaper, Finance director)- charged with Article 168 of the Criminal Code (violation of citizen's rights while performing religious activity); 

Ismayil Rasulov detained August 24, 2016 (Popular Front Party member)- sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention for resisting police (Rasulov is Karabakh war veteran); Released August 30 after public outcry to an arrest of war veteran;

Azadliq Newspaper does not print its new issue due to outstanding debt- August 28, 2016;

Mehman Huseynov August 29 (blogger)- detained, then released;  

Masud Asgar August 29 (N!DA activist)- detained, then released; 

Samir Asadli August 29 (N!DA activist)- detained, then released; 
*All three- Mehman, Masud and Samir were taken to the police after filming the conditions at the local hospital. Mehman is known for posting controversial videos exposing corruption, inequality and other social and economic problems across the country on his video channel. 

Also on August 29, it is two year anniversary since journalist Seymur Hezi's unlawful arrest; 

August 30, 2016- Movsum Samadov, political prisoner begins hunger strike in protest to proposed constitutional amendments and the upcoming referendum after which he is placed in penal isolation ward. 

Also on August 30, Freedom House launches new "#" dedicated to President Ilham Aliyev ahead of Referenedum: #desperate 

September 6, 2016- court in Baku extended pre-trial detention period of young activist Bayram Mammadov by additional two months. Mammadov was arrested in May on charges of drug posession;

Also on September 6, writer and author of numerous books Akram Aylisli was invited to the police as part of the on-going criminal case launched against him at the end of March of this year for alleged assault against government employee at Azerbaijan International Airport. 

September 8, 2016- former prosecutor Rufat Safarov who resigned as a sign of protest to the on-going corruption sentenced to 9 years in prison on bribery charges (Safarov's father happens to be one of the founder's of the ruling party);

Also on September 8, 2016, court in Baku began the hearing in the case of youth activist Giyas Ibrahimov. Ibrahimov was arrested in May on charges of drug possession together with Bayram Mammadov. However both men exposed torture and ill treatment during their detention in their detailed descriptions. The two were arrested after drawing graffiti on the statue of the late president Haydar Aliyev. 

September 9, 2016- Parliament plans to grant "investigators" rights to search without search warrants.

Also on September 9, police questioned editor in chief of opposition Azadliq newspaper Rahim Hajiyev. He is the fourth Azadliq newspaper staff to be questioned following questioning of Vidadi Mammadov, Khayal Babayev and editor Sujaddin Sharifov. 

Monday, September 5

12 million for branding but only 275 euros for a family who lost their home

So here is the deal, president Aliyev love to splurge. Yes, we all know that by now. He loves to splurge for himself, for his family and of course, for his country. And splurging comes in various amounts, shapes and forms. You need a museum, lets splurge. The State Oil Company needs a new glass building, lets splurge, you get the picture. 

The other kind of splurging comes in a package titled "image branding". That kind of splurging takes a whole lot of $$$€€€ and Azerbaijani Manats. We have done a lot of this kind of splurging too. The Eurovision, the Flame Towers, the Flag Pole, the European Games, the F1. We have hosted a whole series of conferences and summits that only our part of the world seems to know about although rarely gets to hear about it. 

The most recent image branding activity took place not long ago in Baku as part of the 42nd Chess Olympiad. The government reportedly spent some 12million EUR covering all costs of international competitors. If you don't remember, we also picked up the tab during the European Games. In fact, this is becoming just like an old Azeri habit of picking up the bill when you are out with guests. 

How generous of us. 

And while over 300 guest players got to enjoy lavish opening on September 1, kilometers away from the capital a family in Serek village struggled to grab attention of local media as well as the government officials as they were forced to sleep outside when their old home got heavily damaged as a result of a heavy rain.  

The family has asked pretty much every government institution for help but so far they have had little success. In fact, all they have been promised was 275eur to buy some construction material. The mother of three and the owner of the house is not happy. "What can you buy with that? We lost everything, what kind of treatment is this?" 

She has a point. But will anyone budge? 

The opening of the chess tournament featured glitz and glamour as per usual. Image branding was a success this time as well but what about the people?