Politics 11:04 19/08/2016 World

Azerbaijani authorities start new wave of repressions in order to frighten population on eve of Constitutional Referendum

Republican Alternative (REAL) Movement’s executive secretary and co-founder NatigJafarliwas detained in Azerbaijan in the evening of August 12. He was arrested for four months by the court’s decision, the Caucasian Knot reports.

“It is a politically dictated move against REAL and the civil society as a whole,” REAL board memberErkinGadirlisaid.

AzerGasimli, another board member of REAL, believes that Jafarli’s arrest targets the initiative group, which collects signatures for registering an advocacy campaign against the Constitutional Amendments put to a referendum.

In lawyer JavadJavadov’s opinion, Jafarli’s arrest could have been carried out in the framework of a criminal case launched by the General Prosecutor’s Office in the spring of 2014 against local and foreign NGOs. Jafarli was a witness in that case as the manager of the civil society projects. ItisstillunknownwhatJafarliissuspectedof.

In its turn, Azerbaijani news agency Turan writes that according to the lawyer, the reason of the well-known economist and public activist NatigJafarli’s arrest arehis political and public undertakings.

In addition to this, the Caucasian Knot also reports that in the evening of August 12, MasudRzali – activist of the Khataicommittee of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) – was detained. Heisaccusedofrefusingtoobeythepolice.

OrhanSelimzade, Rzali’s companion, believes the young man's arrest to be politically motivated. “We are sure that the real reason of Masud’s arrest is that he has been carrying out agitation with the aim of involving the population in the protest planned by the National Council of Democratic Forces against the Constitutional Amendments in Azerbaijan,”Selimzade said.

Meanwhile, Jafarli’s representative RasulJafarovtold Turan that NatigJafarliwastransferred to Kurdakhani Detention Center, where he will be kept in the so-called “quarantine” for several days. 
According to him, foreign diplomatic missionshave been informed about the arrest of REAL executive secretary.

Turan’s analytical service writes that the real motive of Jafarli’s arrest is that the authorities wanted to neutralize him on the eve of the September 26 Constitutional Amendments referendum, which will further expand the presidential power making it absolute.

According to the article, the decision to neutralize Jafarliwas already made on July 28, when REAL announced its plans on creating an advocacy group throughout the countryagainst the referendum.

An economist,NatigJafarli is known as a government opponent in the sphere of the economic policy, Turan highlights. “He believes that the country is in a systemic crisis, and that economic reforms will not save the situation. Onlycardinalpoliticalchangeswill,”Turannotes.

Arresting Jafarli, the authorities aim to take preventive measures making it clear to their opponents that the referendum is a vital event for the president Ilham Aliyev.

Turan also informs that a press conference on NatigJafarli’s arrest was organized in the office of the movement REAL, in which NGO leaders and public activists took part. It was highlighted during the discussions that Jafarli’s arrest is a pressure on the political organization, whose power is increasing.

According to the news agency, Musavat party also condemned the new wave of repressions against the civil society. In its statement, the party considers the APFP activist MasudRzali’s30-day arrest, the threat to kill APFP leader’s relative ElnurSeidov, and the REAL movement’s executive secretary NatigJafarli’s arrest a “new wave of repressions aimed at strengthening the power in the hands of one family.

Meanwhile, the Caucasian Knot reports that NiDa movement activist ElgizGahramanovhas been arrested in Azerbaijan on drug charges. The activist’s companions believe the charges are politically motivated.

“Today Azerbaijani pro-governmental media reported that Elgiz is ‘an active representative of FetullahGulen’s network’. Seeing such statements, we understood that Elgiz has been arrested on politically motivated charges,”UlviHasanli told the Caucasian Knot's reporter. He added that he considers Gahramanov’s links to Gulen’s movement a fiction.

In his turn, the activist’s lawyer NematKerimlistated yesterday that he had not managed to meet his client so far. Hesaidthatheispossiblyunderpressure.

Meanwhile, Turan reports that in the evening of August 15,Azerbaijan’s General Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the pro-governmental media’s statements about launching a criminal case against the "supporters" of the US-based Turkish cleric FetullahGulen.

Reportedly, the leader of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), Ali Kerimli, was namedthe key figure of “Gulen’s network.”Turan earlier reported that Ali Kerimli called the accusations against him a nonsense.

“In April 2011, they claimed that I worked simultaneously with radical Sunni organization ‘Al-Qaeda’ and radical Shia organization ‘Hezbollah’,”Kerimli noted.

He also stated that the whole world is aware that the Azerbaijani authorities are corrupt and are ready to spread any kind of defamation in order to slander their opponents.

“Do not hope to prevent rallies using such dirty methods. The nation does not consist of a group of public and political activists, and 2 or 3 opposition organizations. Very soon, the nation will organize peaceful rallies and will cripple all your plans,”APFP leader commented on the statements about he and FetullahGulenpreparing a putsch in Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, according to the Caucasian Knot, two activists of REAL movement, ElshanGasimov and Tirgul Ismail, were detained in Baku on August 15 in the evening. They are both authorized representatives of the REAL's initiative group on referendum on the Constitutional Amendments.
Turan informs that on August 15, former political prisoner BakhtiyarHajiyevwas detained and transferred to the 27thdepartment of Yasamal police station.

Source Panorama.am
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