"FREEDOM HOUSE" ANALYST:"RIOTS IN AZERBAIJAN ARE CONSEQUENCES OF DISCONTENT AGAINST SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION OF CIVIL UNREST"

13:42 07/02/2013 " SOCIETY

Unrests in Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan and subsequent meetings
in Baku are evidence of the public discontent over the system of
corruption at the level of local and central authorities which is an
integral part of the ruling regime in Azerbaijan, in an interview with
the Azerbaijani news agency "Turan" said analyst of "Freedom House"
organization and the editor of the annual publication "Nations in
Transit" Katherine Machalek.

Machalek who visited Baku at the end of the last year noted that the
economic development of the country is connected with the oil boom,
however, the benefits of this get "local and central authorities and
the members of their families securing self-enrichment and emptiness
of expensive clothing boutiques located along boulevards."

"I can refer to the views of ordinary citizens. Almost everyone that
I spoke to claimed that he had to work in 2-3 places in order to make
both ends meet. Thus, the average salary of professors at universities
is a bit more than $ 200 a month. However, the life in Baku is not that
cheap, especially in comparison with neighboring countries," she added.

At the same time, according to the analyst, the Aliyev regime is
experienced in using severe repressive measures and suppresses freedom
of expression and rallies. People understand clearly that there is no
way to express their discontent. "In this way, the anger accumulates,
until it reaches the boiling point," she noted and added that the
people see how the local leaders abuse power for their own benefits,
demonstrating a complete disregard towards the needs of their own
electorate.

According to her, a similar situation occurred in last March in
Guba, where indignant people came out on to the streets noticing the
offensive comments of the local chief executive in the internet. The
same thing, because of the repressive control of the local official
Alekperov, happened in Ismayilli, the expert says. Discontent that
arose with the behavior of his nephew, who had offended the locals,
was just pretence and not the cause of the protest.

As Machalek noted, Azerbaijani authorities are concerned with the
fact that the opposition activists and journalists may direct that
anger into a more organized opposition movement, which can lead to
the overthrow of the current leadership. Therefore, politicians and
journalists who get involved in the protests immediately receive the
label of "provocateurs" and get arrested accused of organizing riots.

"It has several objectives: first, the political opponents are arrested
and their impact on the public opinion is temporarily suspended;
second, the regime intimidates other activists and journalists to
participate in such events, third, the regime is trying to restore
its damaged reputation, presenting the "provocateurs" as extremist
who provoked riots deliberately, having hostile intentions," said
the expert of Freedom House.

In her opinion, both the Guba and Ismayilli events showed that the
regime does not become more tolerant towards people with dissent
views and continues practicing the same repressive measures in order
to preserve the status quo. "Unfortunately, the regime is hardly to
provide transparency and freedom in the near future, and the oil and
gas interests of the international community will prevail over the idea
of support of the human rights. However, it is more than obvious that
it would be better for the future of the country if the authorities
perceived the increased anger of their populations more seriously,
especially if they want to escape the chaos of the revolution,"
she concluded.

Unrests in Ismailli district began at the evening of January 23,
after an accident in which the nephew of the head of Nizami Alekperov
and son of the Minister of Labor Fizuli Alekperov - Vugar Alekperov
- were involved. His car crashed into another car, Alekperov then
began to insult the local residents. According to one of Ismayilli
residents, relative of the minister took a pack of money out of his
pocket and said: "You have no dignity (geyret), I can buy your mothers
and sisters for this money."

Information about the insults spread through the district and angry
residents began to smash the commercial entities of Alekperov's family
up. Internal troops and Special Forces were involved in the incident.

They fired rubber bullets and tear gas. As a result of clashes many
people were arrested and dozens injured.

Ismayilli region is located in the north of Azerbaijan and is bordered
by Guba region, where in March 2012 the population rioted against
lawlessness of Azerbaijani officials. Ismayilli region just like
Guba, is also included in the historical area of indigenous nations
of Azerbaijan.

Source: Panorama.am



From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress