Society 19:10 19/02/2013

Kamal Ali: After Hitler's fall Azerbaijan was the first country to hold mass political action of burning books

After many years of Hitler's overthrow, Azerbaijan was the first and the second country to implement mass political burnings of books in Europe. First was held in Baku and the second in Eylisli’s village, in Nakhichevan, the Kamal Ali says in the article published in Azerbaijani news agency “Turan”.

“In any case, I do not know other bonfires of books,” well known historian Aydin Balaev raises the theme of book bonfires in his article, “Further developments in Germany came to confirm Heinrich Heine’s correctness, who even in 1821 warned that “the country that burns books will burn also people." And soon concentration camps with gas chambers appeared, where not books but human beings were burnt,” the journal says.

He also notes that the U.S. State Department and the “Human Rights Watch” made quite expected anti-Azerbaijani statements, and that they should expect more political documents in that style.

The author notes that the saying “backhanded service” is not correct in this case, because one doesn’t need to be that smart to predict catastrophic anti-literary campaigns. “The son, daughter and wife of the writer were fired from work; the writer was deprived of his awards and titles. They should finally calm down. But then the formal anti-national actions went on which disgraced the state,” he writes.

The author notes that Azerbaijan has no public executions. “But do not hurry to present yourselves as civilized citizens because from propagated media threats of mutilation till its implementation is one step only,” he writes.

“Perhaps, the initiators of anti-Azerbaijani hysteria that Azerbaijan passes through today think that the only possible reaction towards the undesirable novelist is cutting off his ears, revenging by punishing the family members, depriving of religion, titles and prosecution,” the publication says.

Kamal Ali mentioned that last week, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said that “discussions around Ekrem Eylisli’s book will not blow to prestige of Azerbaijan.”

“His words contain another message; the country's image has already been blown, and now the government has another task to deny what happened. Many publicists say that our country was harmed by the smear campaign of the novel itself. I guess those who initiated this campaign agree with this idea as well. Though, these people may have other goals. However, they managed to divert public attention from the pressing social problems caused by mass protests in the capital and the provinces,” the article said.

Ekrem Eylisli is national writer (since 1998) and Honored Artist of Azerbaijan, holder of the highest order of Azerbaijan “Istiglal” (2002) and the order of “Shokhrat” for his outstanding merits in the literature of Azerbaijan. Recently, on the website of Russian magazine “Friendship of Nations” was published his novel titled “Stone Dreams” in which the author describes the massacres of Armenians in Baku in 1990 and in Nakhichevan in 1919. The author in his novel speaks positively about the Armenian people and their culture. The novel “Stone Dreams” also contains criticism over the former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and the tyranny of the system created by him.

After publication of the novel, Eylisli was exposed to severe pressures in Azerbaijan; the pro-governmental youth held rally in front of his house, his issue was discussed in the parliament of Azerbaijan, MPs suggested to burn his books and to deprive him of citizenship and deport from Azerbaijan. Many people “blamed” Eylisli in his Armenian origin, etc. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev deprived him of personal pension and the title of National Writer, and accused him of “purposefully distorting the history of Azerbaijan” and “in distorting realities about history of Azerbaijan in an inappropriate way.”

The leader of the pro-governmental party ”Modern Musavat” Hafis Hajiyev announced that he would pay about 10 Euros to the one who will cut the ear of the writer. Only after the intervention of the media, the politician was “warned” by the Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan about the illegality of such appeals.

The U.S. Department of State and the OSCE Office in Baku condemned persecution of Eylisli in Azerbaijan and called on the authorities to fulfill their obligations.

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