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Azerbaijan Report: January 14, 2002

14 January 2002
Azerbaijani Women Demand President Aliev's Resignation
Azerbaijani women have decided to stage a protest march on 12 January to demand President Heydar Aliev's resignation. The initiators of the protest action are members of the Azerbaijan Democrat Party. Women members of some 20 political and social organisations working in the republic will participate in the protest action. According to advisor to the ADP chairman Zamina Dunyamaliyeva, they sent a letter to the Baku municipal authorities some days ago announcing the protest, but the municipal authorities rejected all the routes they proposed and suggested that they should stage the action in Galaba square. According to Dunyamaliyeva, their letter did not include this route and they decided to march from the Monument to Free Woman to the Fizuli square. As for the demands they will put forth, Dunyamaliyeva said they will demand Heydar Aliev's resignation in the meeting. According to Dunyamaliyeva, no action of this type has been held so far and only women can achieve Aliev's resignation.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

What Do Azerbaijani Experts Think Of The Council Of Europe Resolution?
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service has been informed that the Council of Europe Human Rights Committee met on 7-8 January and harshly criticised the Azerbaijani government, demanding the unconditional release of some 300 persons considered political prisoners. This was quite unexpected for the Azerbaijani delegation, which has always stated that there are no political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Because of this, the Azerbaijani delegation walked out of the session. The issue will be discussed at the PACE winter session to be held on 24 January.

Chingiz Ganizade, head of the Committee for Democracy and Human Rights, says they did not expect such a strict position from the PACE Human Rights Committee and it is the first time that the organisation has adopted such an attitude against any state. Ganizade blames the Azerbaijani government and the delegation for the situation, noting that the government should not have raised the issue to such a level.

According to Ganizade, since its acceptance into the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has tried to deceive that organisation by cosmetic changes to its internal policy. Consequently, the organisation demonstrated a strict attitude to Azerbaijan. As for the Azerbaijani government's attitude to the issue, the lawyer does not believe that the 300 persons can be released at the same time. He thinks that government officials who do not want Azerbaijan to be punished by the organisation must implement these demands stage by stage.

Ganizade negatively assessed the Azerbaijani delegation's leaving the session. According to him, the PACE sessions differ from those of the Azerbaijani parliament and such a step can cause serious problems between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe.

The chairman of the Ana Vatan (Motherland) Party, Fezail Aghamali, held a press conference on 10 January devoted to the demands of the Council of Europe at which he said he does not accept the discussions held at the Council of Europe Human Rights Committee and the resolution the committee adopted. He says the document does not reflect the real situation.

Saida Gojamanli, Head of the Human Rights and Law Bureau, approves the decision by the Council of Europe experts and thinks that the Azerbaijani government, which wishes to join the European family, should have anticipated it.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Karabakh Invalids May Be Arrested Again
Karabakh war invalids Goundouz Rahimov and Fuad Baladadashov, who were released last September following a ruling by the Appeals Court, may now be arrested again, to judge from a notification the Supreme Court recently sent to them. The Karabakh invalids were arrested on February 21 2001 for participating in a hunger strike, and the court sentenced Rahimov to 5 years and Baladadashov to 2 years in jail. After the Appeals Court pardoned them, everybody thought that an end would be put to the pressure on the Karabakh invalids. But the most recent resolution of the Supreme Court has surprised not only the Karabakh invalids but also their lawyers.

According to Rahimov, the document they have received from the court reads that the claims of the Republican Prosecutor's regarding their release have been provided and the case must be re-considered now by the Appeals Court. Rahimov stresses that he was in jail for 8 months last time but they could not break his will and they will not be able to do so in future. Rahimov says that since his release he has not demonstrated any radicalism. He only criticised in the press the cancellation of social allowances for the needy and vulnerable.

Rahimov's lawyer Elton Guliev thinks the same. According to him, arrests have already become a military duty in Azerbaijan. But the persons who want to arrest Rahimov and Baladadashov must understand that they performed their duty in the Karabakh war and Bayil prison. According to Guliev, the contradictions between the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court played a role in the latest development, as the Supreme Court wants to demonstrate to the Appeals Court that a person whom it has not liberated cannot be set free.

Chairman of the Society of Karabakh Invalids Etimad Asadov thinks that all this aims at creating fear in the society. The former fighter recalls that his fellow members actively participated in the protest against the cancellation of allowances. Apparently, the government wants to resort to repression again and marginalize the Karabakh invalids. But Asadov says that the government will not be able to achieve this. He said hundreds of people who have become handicapped in the fight for the motherland are determined to struggle for their rights.

(Babek Bekir)

Javid Jabbaroglu in an article carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that by naming Heydar Aliyev the journalists' friend, the Azerbaijani press created conditions for him to gain new achievements in his political career. Now the opinion will be formed in the international community that everything has been normalised in Azerbaijan to such an extent that even the strictest journalist of the country agrees that Heydar Aliyev is the journalists' friend. Now the cancellation of social allowances, unemployment and the intolerable conditions of thousands of people been relegated to the back burner. The author calls the development disgusting and expresses regret that the journalists could not avoid being used as an instrument. He thinks it is too late now to reverse the decision.

Rustam in an article carried by the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" writes that Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov may change his position regarding the Caspian issue after his visit to Moscow and Iranian President Mohammad Khatemi's visit to Ashgabat. The specifics of Turkmenistan's position are that it changes regularly. Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have achieved a legal agreement, Turkmenistan either protects the Iranian variant or that of CIS. Iran wants the Caspian to be divided into five equal parts with 20 percent each. According to observers, during the early discussions in Moscow, Niyazov will unequivocally discuss the CIS variant. But even in this case, it is still early to speak of the unanimity of positions. The fact is that Moscow wants the meeting to be held in order to obtain concrete results, but Turkmenistan wants it in order to conduct consultations and an exchange of opinions. But in any case, Turkmenistan will be obliged to make changes to its position.

The newspaper "Azadlig" carries an interview with the Chairman of the Society of Karabakh Invalids, Etimad Asadov. Referring to the harsh attitude towards his organisation, Asadov said there is a danger that his friends will be arrested again, and that he too may be arrested. He said the government, having ruined their health, now wants to take away their personal freedom. Asadov said the government is preparing to arrest him in connection with the protests against the cancellation of social allowances. The government wants to frighten the invalids this way and not to allow them to protest its policy.

The newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Israel alliance can be directed against Armenia and that steps taken in this direction, including the agreement on military cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan, have already caused Armenia's concern. Maybe for this reason, the Armenian Foreign Ministry has recognised Palestine's right to self-determination in some territories that are still disputed between Israel and Palestine. The reason for Armenia's taking such a step is the warm relationships between Azerbaijan and Israel. The author writes that Russia is also participating in this process. If the developments progress this way, it can result in sanctions against Armenia. The author writes that Turkish officials' information about Armenia's possessing weapons of mass destruction could also be a factor in the imposition of such sanctions.

The newspaper "Zerkalo" carries an interview with Shovket Bulent Yahnidchi, Deputy Chairman of Turkey's National Movement Party. Yahnidchi refers to the claims by Husein Kivrikoglu, Chief of General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, that Armenia possesses weapons of mass destruction. Yahnidchi says the information should be regarded seriously, and that Turkey even has information about where Armenia stores those weapons. Referring to Turkey's activity in the Caucasus, Yahnidchi said Turkey wants to work for a swift resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Then Armenia-Azerbaijan relations can be restored.

The newspaper "Yeni Musavat" carries an interview with Musavat party deputy head Sulheddin Akbar, who predicts that Russia will play a significant role in the overthrow of Heydar Aliev's government. But Russia is waiting for a visible deterioration in the Azerbaijani president's situation. Members of Aliev's team also recognise this very well, and for that reason government officials are looking now in Moscow for a person to come to power after Aliev. On the issue of the Gabala Radio Location Station, Akbar says that there are both electronic and technical intelligence opportunities and operational agency conditions there. Russia conducts active intelligence activity in Azerbaijan through Gabala RLS. In 1991, that intelligence work resulted in national conflicts in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan- Lezghin disputes.

Vagif Bayramov writes in the newspaper "Khalg" that the population's deposits made in banks prior to 1 January 1992 will be returned beginning in 2003. The author writes that if the deposits are returned, the people will accept it positively. According to Bayramov, there have been numerous appeals to their newspaper to do so, and the government is working on the issue and positive results will be achieved in near future. The Azerbaijani parliament is expected to adopt in the near future a law outlining the timeframe for the return of those deposits.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)