Politics 19:29 05/02/2015

The Hill: According to Ilham Aliyev’s tweets he lives in ‘Utopia’

If one lived within the confines of the Azerbaijani president's official Twitter account, one might think Azerbaijan is situated within Utopia, writes Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, the writer of the book "Nowhere: The Story of Exile" in the site of “The Hill”.

As noted in the article, independent coverage of the rigged elections, violations of the rights of journalists, civil society and activists are in contradiction with statements of Aliyev in microblog “Twitter”.

“What Aliyev forgets to include in his Twitter monologues are the recently raised concerns by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry of Azerbaijan's human rights abuses. Once these concerns were raised, Azerbaijani authorities raided and closed Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty's Baku bureau, interrogated its employees while denying them access to legal representation. According to RFE/RL, the bureau, funded by the U.S. government, was taken over by Azerbaijani prosecutor's office, which confiscated documents and equipment before sealing off the premises. The criticism that triggered such a response focused on treatment of journalists, specifically the imprisonment of investigative journalists and rights activists Leyla Yunus, her husband Arif, and Khadija Ismayilova,” the author writes.

The author reminds that in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, David J. Kramer of Human Rights and Democracy at the McCain Institute, called the raid "a direct challenge to the U.S.," and called for U.S. to "impose consequences on" Aliyev’s "thuggish" regime. Kramer correctly pointed out that some responded to the dictator's capricious actions, as did the Council of Europe’s human-rights chief, Nils Muiznieks, and several U.N. envoys. The war of words erupted when the U.S. Ambassador to OSCE, Daniel Baer, tweeted that the raid was a "behavior of weak, insecure corrupt governments and leaders." Words are not enough. "Why does the Aliyev regime think it can get away with its abuses?" Kramer asks, before answering, "Because so far it has."

“With the unfolding of the tragic events in Paris, the Azerbaijani crackdown is alarming to the observers. But this reality always simmered under the glittery disguise of Baku's downtown, with promises of a progressive nation, eager to receive its investors.

Azerbaijan’s abuses have been swept under the rug not only with its internal crackdowns on freedom, but also with its blatant disregard to international law over the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) conflict,” Astvatsaturian Turcotte stresses, specifically, the 2014 downing of the NKR military helicopter did not trigger any strong OSCE, or world, reactions.

In response to Aliyev’s tweets that Armenia does not want peace, while the Minsk Group can’t achieve any result in this matter, the author notes that this speech doesn’t correspond to reality.

“As far as NKR and Armenia are concerned, peace is the only thing that is advantageous for the continued development of the two Armenian nations. Since 1994 NKR enjoyed rebuilding of its nation, free of Azerbaijani aggression. Why, then, would NKR disturb the peace it has won, and the roads and buildings it has built in the last 21 years, by agitating a war-mongering neighbor next door that threatens war daily?” the author wonders.

“And every time Aliyev gets bored, expect a tweet from him describing his fictitious Utopia,” Astvatsaturian Turcotte says and adds, yet on the 25th anniversary of Baku pogroms when innocent Armenian population of Azerbaijan was killed, violated and exiled from their homes, one of his 43 tweets that day declares: “Armenia is a powerless and poor country.

The author calls on the US administration to enforce consequences on Azerbaijan's disregard for human rights and international agreements by which it must abide.

Source Panorama.am
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