Azerbaijani leader sees protests as a ‘pretext’ to go after the ‘fifth column’ – The Washington Post – Armenian News

Opinion by Editorial Board

Ilham Aliyev has actually blown a gasket. The president of Azerbaijan has actually never ever looked kindly on independent reporters or dissidents. The February parliamentary elections were considered by global observers to be devoid of genuine political competitors. Now, in the middle of the pandemic, low oil rates and stress with archrival Armenia, Mr.Aliyev has actually unexpectedly found a “fifth column” of opponents, the political opposition, and has actually started tossing them in prison. Mr Aliyev’s temper tantrum is threatening to eliminate what stays of independent political forces in Azerbaijan.

In a speech to the country on the Novruz vacation in March,Mr Aliyev promised to battle the coronavirus pandemic. He stated Azerbaijan was being weakened by “the enemies who are among us, the elements calling themselves opposition, the traitors who receive money from abroad. Their main goal is to destroy Azerbaijan.” The president stated that throughout the pandemic, “the isolation of representatives of the fifth column will become a historical necessity.”

Then, from July 12 to 16, Azeri forces combated with Armenia in the Tovuz district of northwestern Azerbaijan, the very first dispute in between them considering that2016 Eleven Azeri servicemen, consisting of a basic, and a civilian were eliminated in battling, and 4 Armenians passed away. The dispute triggered a July 14-15 pro- military rally in Baku, the Azeri capital. Late in the demonstration, a group of individuals quickly stormed into the parliament structure in Baku prior to they were gotten rid of by cops, and a number of police vehicles were reversed by mad crowds.

Mr Aliyev saw the demonstration as a pretext to go after the “fifth column.” In a screed provided on July 15, the day after the rally, he assaulted the biggest opposition celebration, the Popular Front Party ofAzerbaijan The leader, Ali Karimli, had in fact spoken up in assistance of the army, stating, “We are behind our state and the army.” No matter;Mr Aliyev put them directly in his crosshairs. “We need to finish with the ‘fifth column,’ it cannot continue this way any longer,” he stated, pledging to go after “its dirty and corrupt leaders, cowards and deserters who consider themselves leaders.” He declared the Popular Front is “worse than the Armenians.”

After he spoke, Azeri security services started detaining celebration members and others. Sources in Azerbaijan state that as numerous as 120 individuals are presently held, consisting of some deputy leaders of the celebration as well as reporters. The United States State Department advised Azerbaijan on July 20 to prevent utilizing the pandemic to silence “civil society advocacy, opposition voices, or public discussion.” Mr Aliyev’s foreign ministry without delay responded with a unjustified remark about protests over racial inequality in the United States, stating, “In this situation, we cannot understand who the US State Department is worried about and why.”

Let us describe. In the United States, protests are the lifeline of a operating democracy, one that has its issues however warranties rights of totally free speech and assembly– consisting of the right to slam the president.Mr Aliyev’s usage of the iron fist to damage his critics is the reverse of democracy and why everybody need to stress over this intemperate autocrat.

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