Saturday, November 7

Time goes by...

Its been 4 months since Emin and Adnan's arrest- time goes by but somethings simply don't change. Its already November, boys were sentenced in July. There are less people in front of the court, but those who come still keep up positive atmosphere- they applause when both Emin and Adnan leave the court. Adnan and Emin smile seeing the support. 

No one is aware of the consequences and eventual outcome of these trials. Will they get a sentence or set free? I opt for the second but thats just me and possibly many other friends and supporters. 

Time goes by but some things don't change- Azerbaijan steadily descending into a world of limited freedom of speech, mass violations of human rights, authoritarianism and backwardness. International institutions as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch call the situation in Azerbaijan deteriorating. And it is clear why. In March 2009, President of Azerbaijani Republic, Ilham Aliyev manage to secure a presidency for "life" by scrapping two - term limit to presidency in a landslide Referendum. In addition to securing suspension of presidential elections if the country is at war.

4 months later, in June, the government tried to pass a series of critical amendments to the existing legislation on NGOs, seriously impeding their activities. The most controversial amendment, among a number of others was requirement that non- government organizations, limit their foreign funding to 50 percent, which would have led to basically half if not more NGOs based in Azerbaijan violate the new law. Luckily and I do mean luckily, the most critical amendments were left out. It was a victory for many civil society representatives given a rare moment of managing to win over the government.

But happiness and sense of victory slowly disappeared as in July, two youth activists- Emin Milli (30) and Adnan Hajizada (26) were arrested and charged with "hooliganism" and are now facing up to 5 year of imprisonment. They didn't do anything- they were attacked by two men who are now treated as "victims" and are set free while Emin and Adnan are spending their time behind bars. But they are keeping their chin up. In a recent Facebook post by Nigar Fatali, she said she managed to speak to Emin Milli who suggested reading a book on the life of Muhammed. They are reading, that is their way out to freedom. 

Ever since 2003, media in Azebraijan is ranked "non free" (see Freedom House report 2009). In Azerbaijan, it has become a popular exercise  to punish critical journalists with imprisonment, large fines, accusations of their involvement in terrorism, drug trafficking and what not. A number of critical newspaper journalists been arrested and the murder of Elmar Huseynov- editor- in- chief of popular opposition magazine Monitor - remains unresolved. He was brutally murdered in front of his apartment. Azerbaijan is the country with highest number of arrested journalists among OSCE member states. 

A journalists based in Baku working for a local newspaper sites an Azerbaijani proverb: “pisi gormesen, yaxshisinin deyerini bilmirsen” (if you haven’t seen the worse, you wont understand the value of good) saying that now they understand the difference between past and current president- then was a democracy compared to what is going today.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) rank Azerbaijan in their 2009 report 146 out of 175 in "Press Freedom Barometer" as well as including the President on the list of "media predators". The government exercises full control over the National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) even though according to one of the commitments it undertook while becoming member of the Council of Europe was granting full freedom and independence to the NTRC. 

In December of last year, the government or the NTRC (doesn't really matter here) banned foreign radio stations- BBC, VoA, RFE/RL- from broadcasting on local FM frequencies.

Looking back it makes one wonder will there ever be a change? Will people actually enjoy their lives rather than worry about making extra money to feed their families? Will our youth be able to study in corruption free universities and actually get a descent education? Will people be happy again? For now, there is only one answer, time will show so let it go by but be patient and hopefully we, or our children, or our grand children will see that change...

5 comments:

TMS said...

Arzu,

but it nice that time passes by, isn't it? otherwise life in Aze would prove to be even more unbearable with the presently prevailing atmosphere, conditions, traditions.

lets cross out fingers that time to pass by with growing velocity.

lastly, I boo the government and more the enlightened people serving it.

Keep it real.

Nice blog.

Sanan

A.J. said...

Good post, reminded me what's going on in Absurdistan, Arzu.
I want to hope that Emin and Adnan will be free soon. However, to prolong or postpone due process and let people's interest weaken can be government's play.
It is much more easier to oppress when people lost interest in matter.

A peasant from Baku

Lala said...

wish we could do something.

Sachin said...

Arzu,

This will unlikely end anytime soon. I also hope Emin & Adnan are released from prison, but this has been documented in other countries with a lot of resources(oil). It's called the resource-curse or the 'First Law of Petropolitics'(http://j.mp/4fW0dM) - see if you can get a copy and read it.

As long as Azerbaijan mainly gets revenue from oil, the government will get little criticism from outside and will tolerate less criticism from home.

Peace(and justice),
Sachin.
Peace Corps Volunteer(Quba) 2005-2007

Sabi said...

Seriously how can we be proud of Azerbaijan after this? How can anyone be proud of this country after what they have done to Emin&Adnan and probably dozens of other innocent people?


I'm hoping though ...

They can't always win.