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Naxcivan: increasingly cut off from reality

Naxcivan: increasingly cut off from reality

It's not easy being a police officer in Naxcivan, Azerbaijan's increasingly barmy and authoritarian exclave (See "Jailed For Not Paying A Bribe"). After a long working day, police officers keep themselves busy -- making sure that no political speeches are conducted at weddings (forbidden recently), or helping other public servants by working in the wheat fields.

So after a long, hard day, it's easy to imagine a police officer's thoughts while riding the bus home. He probably dreams of taking his boots off, changing his dirty clothes, and sipping tea with his family.

So it's perhaps not surprising that four police officers reacted so harshly when a discussion about their appearance interrupted their thoughts. One of the bus riders cited a proverb, something along the lines of "with this attire one comes from either the mill or the grain field."

Hasan Ibrahimov, a resident of the Kangarli district, was unlucky and careless enough to say the proverb loud enough to be heard. For his sins, Ibrahimov says he was taken to the police station and beaten until he lost consciousness. Upon coming round, he says he was forced to apologize.

The police have defended the arrest and said that "Ibrahimov was called to order and received a warrant from the police for drunk misbehavior."

Ibrahimov has filed a complaint about the police officers' behavior at the prosecutor's office.

That, however, is unlikely to amount to much. The problem for residents of Naxcivan is that they are absolutely helpless when faced with harassment by the local authorities. The exclave has no direct land links with the rest of the country (it's separated from the rest of the country by Armenia). Or as one human rights activist says: "International and local human rights activists get harassed when they are going to Naxcivan, needless to say local residents are in worse shape. Naxcivan officials enjoy being out of anyone's control."

-- Khadija Ismayilova

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