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Azerbaijan Report: January 8, 2002

8 January 2002
Adalat Party Staged Protest Action
Members of the Sebayel branch of the Adalat party picketed the Appeals Court on 8 January to demand that members of the party be released from detention. On 19 September, Sumgayit police officials detained party members Jarulla Ramazanov, Latif Guliev and Fezail Taghiyev. Ramazanov and Guliev were imprisoned for one year and 6 months, but former parliament member Taghiyev did not take part in the final sitting of the court due to ill-health. Because of this, the Adalat members demand release of their fellow members.

According Adalat Party press service head Mutallim Rahimli, none of the three either resisted the police officials or violated the law. Rahimli attributed the police action to the malicious attitude of Sevindik Safarov, Head of the Sumgayit Police department, towards the Adalat party. He said further protest actions will be held until the party members are released, and their goal in staging the actions is to draw the world community's attention to the problems of the Adalat party.

As the Baku municipal authorities had given consent to the picket, there was no clash between the police and the picketers.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Will The Cases Of Political Prisoners Be Re-Considered?
The implementation of Azerbaijan�s commitments to the Council of Europe has been a topic of discussion ever since the country was accepted into that organisation. One of the requirements of the Council of Europe was the reconsideration of the cases of three political prisoners: Rahim Gaziyev, Isgandar Hamidov and Alikram Humbatov, the latter accused of conspiracy against the state. Azerbaijani lawyers demanded that former minister for internal affairs Isgandar Hamidov should be released. His lawyers said that Hamidov�s release was to be expected.

Latif Huseynov, Head of the Azerbaijan parliament�s department on state building and legislation, recently declared that Azerbaijan�s Prosecutor General Zahid Garalov has appealed to the Court of Appeals to review these prisoners' cases. The Prosecutor's office refuses to provide detailed information in this connection. According to unofficial information provided by government circles, there is a greater possibility for Isgandar Hamidov to be released, but his family are not optimistic. Both they and Hamidov�s lawyer Yaver Husein think that if the government had any intention of releasing Hamidov, then they would have included his name in the amnesty decree issued in connection with Solidarity Day.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Karabakh War Veterans Plan Protest Action
The cancellation of social allowances may give rise to protest actions in Azerbaijan, to judge by the 5 January meeting of the Narimanov district department of the Azerbaijani Union of the Veterans of War. According to Saftar Eminov, deputy chairman of the department, up to now, they have been able to use public transport and communication services on preferential terms. But after the allowances were cancelled, no compensation was allotted to the war veterans. Eminov says that the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and those who participated in the elimination of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster are given compensation, but none is given to the veterans who fought for their motherland. Eminov said the veterans are displeased with the government's discriminatory policy. He says when they were fighting for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, they did not think of any compensation.

Eminov said the veterans have submitted their demands to the Union's head office in a softened form, and that if the issue is not settled in the near future, they will embark on nation-wide protest actions. Eminov said government officials explain their indifferent attitude to the veterans by the fact that some people carry forged documentation alleging they are veterans. But he says the Union of Veterans has no authority to issue veterans' cards, which is the task of the relevant ministries. The former fighters decided to establish a prize for friends and enemies of veterans.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Farhad Mammadov in an article carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the repeal of Section 907 may be delayed for at least three weeks. He writes that the U.S. administration might present Azerbaijan with specific conditions for resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The resumption of talks can lay the foundation for this. The author writes that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' visit to the region in November signalled that the proposals may be made with regard to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that are not beneficial to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani officials should unequivocally reject such proposals. According to the author, regardless of the repeal of Section 907, Azerbaijan must demonstrate its will.

Aligismet Badalov, in an article "Why do Musavat members not obey the law?" carried by the newspaper "Azerbaijan" refers to the problems regarding the headquarters of the Musavat party. He points out that Musavat's persistence results from the desire to undermine social stability in the country. Musavat functionaries want to stage protest actions on the pretext that their headquarters will be taken away. The author writes that when a party speaking of legislation and democracy is invited to observe the law, it is annoyed. Then the party construes that demand as political pressure, but in reality, the government demands that Musavat work within the law and observe all the legal procedures.

Rauf Mirgadirov in an article carried by the newspaper "Zerkalo" writes that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commission met on 7 January in Paris behind closed doors. Azerbaijan's Ambassador to France Elyonora Huseynova took part in the session. In an interview with "Zerkalo," Huseynova noted that the rapporteurs speaking on the state of human rights in Azerbaijan were very strict. She noted that the Azerbaijani government's recent steps regarding political prisoners were positively evaluated. Rapporteur Clerfayt noted that the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan requires further discussion and suggested that the issue be included on the agenda of the PACE session to be held later in January.

Rasim Bayramov writes in the newspaper "Hurriyyet" that the U.S. plans to render military assistance to Azerbaijan in the near future. Washington wants to change the military balance in the region in Azerbaijan's favour. Even though that is in Azerbaijan's interests, it would be naive to think that the U.S. has taken Azerbaijan's interests into consideration. The author writes that at present, the U.S. is interested in military strengthening of Azerbaijan in the region. If Azerbaijan becomes both militarily and economically stronger, Russia will lose any control over the Caucasus. But all the changes will be carried out after Section 907 is repealed. Rendering assistance to the country on the one hand, but exerting pressure on it on the other can greatly damage the U.S.'s image. Pointing out that there is a negative mood in Armenia in this connection, Russia also prepares to render the same assistance to Armenia. It makes official Yerevan treat everything carefully.

The newspaper "Ekho" writes, citing Azerbaijan's Ministry for National Security, that refugees from Afghanistan have been detained in Baku. The article reads that police department 36 in Khatai district has detained an Afghan who gave his name as Khalil Haji Purdel Afghanzade but had no documents to confirm that. The "Ekho" correspondent learned from the Ministry for National Security that the man entered Azerbaijan illegally. Unofficial reports say that he crossed the border into Azerbaijan from Iran. The newspaper recalls that even during the anti-terror operations, Afghan refugees came to Iran, which assisted them in travelling to Azerbaijan. According to official statistics, there are currently some 2,000 Afghans in Azerbaijan. It is not easy to determine why they came to Azerbaijan. Criminal incidents can be expected in Baku at any moment. Nobody can rules out the presence of Taliban among the real refugees.

Sabit writes in the newspaper "525" that some forces are jealous of the fact that Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev has been named the journalists' friend. Azerbaijani politicians' attitude to media outlets has never been on an ideal level. The majority of politicians claiming to be in the democratic camp are represented in the government and their attitude to journalists is clear. A member of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party who once praised Heydar Aliyev now calls himself an opposition-member and has been elected the leader of an independent and democratic newspaper. The author writes that taking into consideration developments in the opposition camp and the state of main newspapers, it becomes clear that nobody except for Heydar Aliyev has paid any attention to the problems of the media over the last one month. Because of this, the author thinks that Aliev's being elected the journalists' friend must be considered a normal development.

The newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" writes that Iran's special envoy for the Caspian issues Mehdi Safari will take part in talks on the status of the Caspian Sea in Baku on 8 January. It has not been determined yet what proposals will be discussed during the visit, but the possibility that positive results will be achieved is great. The newspaper also writes that the sides will discuss during the talks the reconstruction of Julfa-Purdasht bridges in Nakhchivan.

Meghrur Eli Polad writes in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that at present some 6,000 Azerbaijani women are detained in Dubai prisons for prostitution. The living conditions of citizens in every country of the world depend on the government. Neither opposition nor journalists determine the level of life in the country. The author blames the Azerbaijani government for the fact that some 6,000 Azerbaijani women left the country to earn their living by selling their bodies. Selling one's body in order to earn a living cannot be justified, but it can also be seen called as a protest actions by 6,000 women against the government.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)