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Half-hearted decree on pardon...

or the solution of the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan


Some days ago the President signed another decree to pardon a number of prisoners. It would be wrong to call a pardon the arrest of innocent people, but in the last available decree contains their names. Of the 137 released 14 are the people recognized by the local and international community, human rights organizations as political prisoners. On the day of the signing of the decree by the decision of the Court of Appeal was conditionally released prominent journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov.  It is noteworthy that after the release in 2012, «the prisoners of 2 April, » it became the first case of such a mass release of political prisoners. The question may arise:

Why did Ilham Aliyev release a group of political prisoners?

Some say that this step is a manifestation of humanism. However, if to do a little investigation, it becomes clear that they have been released as a result of the demands of the local and international community. The authorities were forced to release 15 prisoners on the eve of Novruz Holiday. Humanism is not the release or pardon of those who had been arrested as a result of planting drugs to believers and weapons in the apartments of young activists.  Three or four years of their life have been stolen. However, the arrest of political prisoners is a headache for the authorities. There is a serious socio-economic tension in the country, international pressure is growing, and warnings on sanctions are made. To prevent this tension authorities have to take mitigating steps. In fact, all these measures are taken on the eve of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, in order not to come to the White House empty-handed. Moreover, to prevent the adoption of the Act of Democracy in Azerbaijan, providing for the refusal to grant visas to senior officials directly involved in the law violations, as well as their friends and family members. The draft Act (H.R.4264) was prepared by Chris Smith, a member of the US House of Representatives.

 They commit serious crimes, and not political prisoners...

Just like in the previous list of pardoned, the last list of pardoned in most cases included the names of persons accused of committing serious crimes. It seems that the Pardon Commission has a particular sympathy and respect for persons who had committed serious crimes; 90 out of 137 pardoned by the latter decree, were sentenced by the courts in Baku and regions for committing serious crimes. For most of them the verdicts were ruled in 2013, 2014 and even in 2015. Even a person, who has committed a serious crime, has a right to be released, and it is normally perceived. Authorities release such people, but    deprive of the right to release such prisoners of conscience as Khadija Ismailova, Ilgar Mammadov, Intigam Aliyev, Fuad Gahramanli - it is impossible to understand.  It is noteworthy that according to the pardon signed in December last year, 198 prisoners were pardoned, of which 131 (66%) were persons who committed serious crimes. They were convicted by the Serious Crimes Courts in Baku and in the regions.

Pardon or deep political hostility and jealousy?

One of the factors that attract the attention to the last pardon is that the authorities did not include into the list of pardoned those who are considered competitors, representatives of organizations located in the intransigence of the authorities. The fact that the names of Ilgar Mamedov,  Khadija Ismayilova, Intigam Aliyev, members of APFP and believers,  were not included the list  confirm the biased attitude of the  authorities towards them.

Another attractive point in the order of pardon is the difference in relation to persons charged with the same items and motives. This is a gross violation of the principle of pardon, and unfair approach to the prisoners. For example, Tofig Yagublu was released, but Ilgar Mamedov remains in custody. After all, they were condemned on the same articles and motifs. Such approach was applied to the members of the NIDA Movement; the talk is about Ilkin Rustamzade, who remains in prison.

Should the release of innocent people be thanked?

A group of people, who are fed by the authorities, again did their best to justify the "splendor" of this step - the release of the innocent. Sometimes some international organizations also play up to them. Nobody wants to see that this "magnificent" step is nothing but the return of the hat of the orphan, which in fact belonged to him.  It is not so hard to understand that people have been stolen their best years of life. Many of those who are in custody have lost their parents. Nemat Panahli lost his father and mother, but was not allowed to say goodbye to their parents, and attend their funeral. Some of them have lost their children. So, Tofig Yagublu lost his daughter Nargis. Tofig Yagublu gave the best answer to those who expects gratitude from the liberated: "I am not going to thank anybody. On the contrary, we must still ask for our illegal arrest, for causing grief. Why did the government arrest us, innocent people?! I would thank Ilham Aliyev for pardon only in the case, if I was the real culprit, and he would have pardoned me. If they were not afraid of the West, they would have shot us. Three years and two months have been stolen from my life. Who is responsible for this? How can I thank for the tragedy I lived, the death of my daughter Nargis? "

Who profiteers the card of political prisoners?

In recent years, some accomplices by the authorities claim that the problem of political prisoners has become a subject of profiteering, implying civil society institutions, international human rights organizations.  Not just a bad manner, but also an inferiority complex is the fact that people’s life is stolen, and then pardon them intending to get a "thank" from the pseudo human rights activists and international organizations. The fruit of the imagination of only a few individuals represented in the power  of Azerbaijan may be the idea of pressure on the international organizations and states, in order to obtain in exchange for the release of  their own  citizen  any benefits or gratitude. This is the true profiteering - cheap and shameful...

Solution of the problem of political prisoners...

The last decree of pardon once again demonstrated the existence of the problem of political prisoners in the country. Unfortunately, this step, like all other steps of power, became half-hearted, without solving the problem completely. Solving the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan is through the release of political prisoners Khadija Ismayilova, Ilgar Mammadov, Intigam Aliyev, members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party headed by Fuad Gahramanli, believers headed by Taleh Bagirzade, and other innocent people. Their release should not be followed by new illegal arrests. The authorities are simply doomed to the release of all political prisoners. Under current conditions such long persistence of the authorities, in whatever form, is impossible.  Taking these partial measures, the authorities do not wish to show their defeat. However, sooner or later, those in power - the ruling party "Yeni Azerbaijan" will be forced to reckon with the people of Azerbaijan and the democratic world, and will be doomed to economic and political changes. Otherwise, its situation will be worse than now ...

Oktay Gyulaliyev, Coordinator of the Public Alliance "Azerbaijan without political prisoners"



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