It all started a while back. Arrests of opposition party members during the mid 2000, beatings, and persecution. Nosey journalists had to pay a hefty fine. Elmar Huseynov was murdered in front of his house in 2005. Then came more crackdown. In 2009 Azerbaijan had the referendum. Elections meant nothing, if not a little theatre performance Aliyev regime was extremely skilled with the most recent ones worthy of an Oscar if you ask me.
While the Eurovision song contest in 2012 put Azerbaijan on the map, it did so with all its dirty business. By this point, there were a few investigative stories around to expose corruption and behind the doors businesses of the ruling family members as well as ministers and so on.
In the meantime, just as corruption and personal wealth of the few grew, freedoms disappeared.
Aliyev and his cronies watched closely. Or maybe he didn't because he is too busy for that, and his minions watched closely instead. They launched a new wave of crackdown. Everyone was to be punished if it contradicted what the government was saying and doing. It did not matter any more if you were a journalist, an activist, a youth activist, a human rights defender. Everyone was a target but the officials.
I don't have to remind you of the prominent cases that were all over the news in 2014 and into 2016.
The releases that seemed like the good news (even though they should not have happened in the first place) brought a wave of bad news soon after.
It was time to re-fill, replace the spots in prisons.
We thought it could not get uglier. When 20 somethings were sentenced to 10 years in jail for drawing graffiti (!!!) the 50 something judges who have carried out these sentences went back to their homes, comfortable, warm, with extra credit for lip service in their bootlick banks.
In the meantime, family members of those who have fled the country were (and are) terrorised by the authorities (and surely no one has been punished for this either), called into questioning, and eventually faced with no other choice but to denounce their family members. Daughters, sons, just like that, lost their families not because they died (which also happened) but because their families were forced by the circumstances.
And it got uglier.
When mother of a rapper was detained for four days and questioned for a video her son released forcing him to remove the video from YouTube.
And just yesterday [February 19] an Azerbaijani activist and video blogger Ordukhan Teymurkhan living abroad received a phone call from police officer in Baku telling him "had he been a man, his sisters would not be detained".
Here is a bit more in detail about the case:
So here is a reminder for anyone out there who thinks Aliyev is a good guy, or that things are changing for the better in Azerbaijan. Aliyev is not a good guy. He never was, he never will. And he will continue to do whatever he wants because there are no checks and balances. And honestly, I don't know how else to explain the fact that he has never had even the slightest of the intention to change. Again, Aliyev deserves Oscars for such an outstanding performance for making many believe things might change.