Wednesday, October 22

And the Sakharov prize goes to...

European Parliament made its final call and awarded its highest human rights accolade- Sakharov Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynecological surgeon. 

Congratulations Mr. Mukwege! I hope your cause and fight reaches out to many more and you save many more lives. 
In the meantime, our very own, Leyla Yunus came third. This most likely means, she will remain in prison together with her husband and the government will do whatever it takes to prevent other activists, defenders, journalists from receiving any other awards. Because they want to save face. Because Yunus winning the award would have put further pressure on the ruing government in Azerbaijan. But she didn't win. So less pressure. 

Where does all of this leave us?

The show must go on, and all of us who have taken part in promoting, advocating, writing, lobbying for Azerbaijan's political prisoners, continue doing so and should continue doing so. The Sakharov Prize may be over and Mr. Mukwege is the winner but our political prisoners remain in prison, and the struggle for their freedom must continue. 

You see the problem with spotlights is that they fade, the bulbs blow up or someone needs more spotlight and attention than others so people move on carrying their spotlight with them. But Azerbaijan is just one of those rare countries that needs the spotlight all the time. As soon as its gone, someone else ends up beaten, jailed, harassed, intimidated or worse killed (and it is likely the perpetrators will never be found).

I would like to remind readers in Europe, respected and esteemed Parliament Members, the Council of Europe (even if it has proven useless) and everyone else in the Western hemisphere who keeps tabs on human rights issues in Azerbaijan and still hasn't gone to the "dark side", to continue putting pressure on Azerbaijani leaders. Just think about it for a second: when did we start coming up with excuses when someone is threatened because he/she has a voice? When did we start valuing certain commodities (like caviar) over freedom of speech and freedom to assenbly? When did we start differentiating about different types of citizens, refugees vs. political prisoners? Aren't refugees in a way political prisoners too? Trapped in between official fighting and hunger for power? Aren't we all humans at the end of the day? 

Will these words make more sense and have bigger impact if addressed from the UN stage?! Well, we have no such opportunity so this blog post will have to do!

Oh I know the answer all right. But please tell me,  since when democracies stopped being democracies and turned into profit seeking enterprises; where value for basic human right is no longer valued at its highest and instead its all about barrels. Is it all about barrel of oil vs. barrel of human right?!  

I hope its not. Because if it is then we are kind of doomed. 
Why don't we all stop and think for a moment. Just remember the basic rights, remember the basic freedoms. Justice ought to be served eventually for all, and not for one group of people over another. If it is justice Azerbaijani government seeks than it shall seek it equally for all.

Dear friends, supporters, followers, haters, don't forget about Azerbaijan and the crackdown its honest people are facing at the moment. Remember it might be just a tat bit too late when the sh** hits the fan and there is no one to talk to in the country. Just saying...

Tuesday, October 7

Azerbaijan's one hell of a public service efficiency

If there is one thing Azerbaijani government is efficient at then I'd say its jailing people (and I see how authorities might see this as part of the public service). It is true that recent service provision like "asan xidmet" [Trans: Easy Service] have made things a tat bit easier for citizens to get things done but lets be honest here, writing about this is like saying shut your eyes and just get what i shove down your throat - if its public service efficiency crap then that's what its going to be for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Here is why the rant. An article that appeared on Guardian talks about an e-service center that started working in the capital of Baku providing citizens "eased" public services. You can get a new passport as well as national identification card and a myriad of other services done here. And its all corruption free! Yeay!

The problem isn't so much about the service but about who stands behind it. The man behind is Ali Huseynov, an MP, and by default member of the ruling party. He is also Chairman of the Parliament's Law Committee which means he is behind many of the draconian laws Azerbaijani parliament adopted in the past. Huseynov firmly stands behind his GONGO called Azerbaijan Lawyer Confederation where he is the chairman of the board. 

The author of the Guardian article is Kamal Jafarov, who happens to be the Secretary General of the same Confederation. 

Get the link between the two? Maybe it was even Huseynov who wrote the piece and needed someone else name to put on that article. But thats besides the point. The point is while we have over 98 political prisoners, dismal rights record, and decapitated media, how can we have "news" about services as Asan. Its like, hey, no matter how many people are sent to jail and under what pretext, the important thing is that you can still pay your bills and get your shit done at this one place - isn't it great?! Isn't this wonderful?! Who cares about the rest, isn't it all just a technicality?!