Friday, July 29

Unlawful arrests, referendum and more in Aliyev's La La land

Remember the two youth activists detained in May in Azerbaijan? If you don't here is a story to freshen up your memory. The two men were detained unlawfully. There was no proof the two were allegedly drug users as police claimed. Not only were they detained unlawfully but they were also tortured, threatened with rape and not allowed to see their family members or the lawyer. 

It has now been more than two months since their detention and in these past two months they have only seen their family twice. In fact, only one, Giyas Ibrahimov was allowed to see his family even though by law they are allowed family visits once a week according to their lawyer. 

The lawyer also said that during medical examination on July 5 and 12, doctors concluded the two were clean of drugs and in fact there were no traces of any substance. 

Not surprisingly when the lawyer asked that the fingerprints found on drug packages "discovered" during the search were compared with fingerprints of the two youth activist, the court dismissed this request. 

Where does this leave us? For starers that neither Giyas nor Bayram are drug addicts. We have already known that Azerbaijan's judiciary is a shit-show and fair trial to activists, journalists, rights defenders is non existent. 

Their faith will be decided soon. I fear it won't be a good outcome. But then maybe the thought of acquiring more power via referendum will make the government officials forget about these two innocent gentlemen. 

After all, it is not an easy task to run a country especially if you fear you will be brought down by your very own "closed circle of special friends" who have been around you but you fear they have been around for far too long. Surely there is also the killing urge to stay in power for as long as possible, groom your children to become future presidents and so on. 

In fact, here are all proposed amendments to the constitution, for which Azerbaijan will hold a referendum on September 26. 

Please follow the link and read it online. 

Also in Aliyev's la la land are measures taken against Gulen establishments. A university, that is known for its quality education (unlike many other universities of Azerbaijan) was turned over to Baku Higher Oil School or simply put under the management of SOCAR (the State oil company). The university since 2013 was already under the management of Azerbaijan's International Education Center which was wounded by SOCAR. 

I wrote the following for Global Voices earlier about the matter: 

In 2014 when Erdogan went to Azerbaijan to visit President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan promptly shut down a network of schools linked to Gulen that were regarded as some of the best in the country.
The management of 11 high schools, 13 university exam preparation centers and one private university was transferred to SOCAR, Azerbaijan's state oil company. Fast forward to July 18, 2016 and the pattern continues. After reportedly conferring with ally Erdogan, Aliyev decided to announce the closure of one of the country's few remaining bribe-free education establishments, the Caucasus University, which was founded by adherents of Gulen.

And last but not least one newspaper known for its ties with Gulen establishment was shut down while one TV channel's license was revoked after airing an interview with the cleric. 

Then there are banks and other business (unrelated to Gulen) but closing down as a result of the financial crisis. This time 4 more banks- Parabank, Zaminbank, Dekabank, Kredobank- had their license revoked. 

This all for now, until next update. 

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