TODAY.AZ / Politics

Eldar Zeynalov: "The report of the US Department of State will not affect US-Azerbaijani relations"

31 May 2008 [10:56] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az with famous human rights activist Eldar Zeynalov.
- How would you comment on the US Department of State on Azerbaijan "Azerbaijan-Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report-2008"?

- On the whole, it can be said that the report of the US Department of State reflects the real situation in the sphere of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan. In particular, one of the biggest problem of our country is a terrible situation in the court system of our country. Much should be done for independence of local judges and their legal literacy.

Naturally, there is a great space for work in the sphere of other components of human rights: beginning from provision of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and up to responsibility of those, who violate the rights of our citizens, sometimes using inadmissible methods.

At the same time, the said report will not affect the US-Azerbaijani relations, which are currently on the level of strategic partnership, or influence the situation inside Azerbaijan. There have been numerous reports of the kinds and there will be even more of them.

- The report states: "Torture and beating of persons in police and military custody resulted in four deaths in 2007, and security forces continue to act with impunity". How much does this  statement comply with the rejection of the problem of torture in Azerbaijan by high-ranking officials of the local law-enforcement system?

- Several years ago high-ranking officials in the law-enforcement bodies refused the problem of trafficking in Azerbaijan. Now up to 80 people a year are arrested for being engaged in this smeary business. And the news band of the leading local mass medias, especially Day.Az, are full of information about the detention of persons, engaged in trafficking our women abroad for the purpose of prostition.

I would list another example. In 1998 one of our local prosecutors threatened to bring me to responsibility for stating that there is a problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He stated that there are are no such problems in Azerbaijan and will never be. Only few years passed that the fact of existence of the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan was recognized in the world which made representatives of official Baku also recognize this problem.

Perhaps, we will witness the same developments in connection with the facts of using tortures in Azerbaijan. At present, we witness the predicted reaction of local officials to criticism. They state that tortures are not used in Azerbaijan, while in such developed countries as the United States, Great Britain and France the facts of tortures are recognized.

Is it surprising? Certainly, not, You see for a bureaucratic official the fact of torture  would be proven only when there is an official confirmation of these facts and not when they see the facts of using torture with their own eyes. This is the psychology of officials throughout the world.

- How, do you think, will representatives of official Baku comment on the said report?

Representatives of official Baku will state that the said report is biased and it does not fix the real state in the sphere of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan . Special focus, I think, will be made on the part of the report, which says that the United State cooperate with over 100 local NGOs for development of strategic plans, propaganda, more active participation of the community and provision of discussions of definite issues of local concern between the community and local authorities. This fact will be listed as an "evidence" on the partiality of local NGOs. In other words, everything will be done to shift accents from the negative moments, fixed in the report of the US Department of State on other factors, for example our human rights activists.

- But is it fair that the report of the US department of state is softer towards Armenia than towards Azerbaijan?

- Well, the US Department of State does not carry out the comparative analysis in the said report but points at the problems, existing in each country. We should respond for ourselves, for our problems and not forget that the United States are a strategic partner of Azerbaijann, dealing with ways of settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and are the most influential state in the country, which is enough to listen to the criticism by this country.

- Yes, that is the point! Azerbaijan is a strategic ally of the United States, while Armenia is "Russia's outpost in the Caucasus". Wouldn't it be logical to expect from the US Department of State to pay more attention to murder of people in the streets of Yerevan, introduction of censorship, mass arrests of opposition representatives during the recent presidential elections in Armenians, but not the problems of Azerbaijan?

- The said moment can be explained by the possible lower number of Armenian NGOs working closely with the United States. In other words, Russia has possibly controls this area so much that it reduced to minimum the number of human rights activists who would provide true information about the situation with human rights in Armenia. No information - no criticism. We should not forget that there are the same bureaucrats in the United States that are used to reacting on definite announcements of human rights organizations and different documents.


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