Wednesday, May 11

N!DA activists OUT, N!DA activists IN

If you at any point, thought release of Azerbaijan's 14 political prisoners, suspension of sentences of Intigam Aliyev, Rauf Mirkadirov and permission to leave Azerbaijan granted to couple Leyla and Arif Yunus by the regime in Baku was a sign of progress, you were deeply deeply mistaken. It was not. Perhaps a sign of back door diplomacy working wonders yes, perhaps a sign of exchange of favors yes, but certainly, definitely and with full assurance NOT a sign president Aliyev and his government has any intention to become good all of a sudden.

Why? Well lets start from a criminal case launched against Meydan TV shortly after president Aliyev returned from his successful trip to Washington DC. Then there was another notice- 15 journalists  named in the investigation case against Meydan TV. Several current political prisoners motions for release and/or house arrest were dismissed by local courts and so on. 

And just yesterday there were news of two N!DA activists being detained. Hours after their detention their whereabouts are not known, their family and friends have not heard of them. Why? Because the government of Azerbaijan can do it. Because there are no checks and balances and because they hate, literally despise anyone who stands out and commits any act of disobedience. 

Bayram Mammadov and Giyasaddin Ibrahim were detained allegedly for writing "Fuck the System!" [in English] and "Happy Slaves Day!" [In Azerbaijani "Qul Bayraminiz Mubarek" ahead of Gul Bayrami or Flower Day celebrations] on a statue of Heydar Aliyev. May 10 is celebrated as Flower Day but also as President Heydar Aliyev's birthday. Since 2009, the government spent millions on celebrating this holiday bringing in flowers from all over the world and throwing them away two days later. This year however, as a result of the escalation on the front line and deaths of Azerbaijani service men, there was a symbolic celebration planting flowers. 

Strangely while the government pays its respects to the military personnel it did not do the same when ten days before the first celebrations of the Flower Day in 2009 there was an attack at the State Oil Academy killing more than a dozen of students and professors according to official data. 

So where does this all leave us?! Well, where we see that nothing has really changed in Azerbaijan and that official Baku's revolving door policy used against its critics is very much alive. And if the government is so much about respecting the dead, then we should cancel Azerbaijan's participation in Eurovision song contest, the Formula 1 race, and all other upcoming celebrations until we resolve all our troubles. 

This of course is called wishful thinking...

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