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Azerbaijan: “Great People's Day” Protest Criticism Answered

Following a youth protest held in Baku on 11th March which saw dozens of activists detained or arrested before, during and after the event, some bloggers in Azerbaijan are criticizing the organizers of what became known as “Great People's Day.” Analoqu olmayan bloq :) [AZ], for example, criticizes the fact that six of seven of those responsible for the page were based outside the country.

Xaricdə oturub şüarçılıqdan, hakimiyyəti söyməkdən asan nə var ki? Yerlərdə vətəndaş cəmiyyəti, gənclərin azadlığı daha da daraldı – yaxın günlərdə hamımız bunu əyani görəcəyik.

There is nothing easier than sloganism and criticizing the government from abroad. In some places the freedom of society and youths became even more strained. This will clearly be demonstrated in days to come.

Gulara Azimzadeh's blog [AZ] also criticizes the organizers, although more because there appeared to be no concrete plan for 11 March.

11 mart xalq günü keçirildi ama nə düz əməlli plan oldu nə də şüar. Tarix boyu uduzulmuş  döyüşlərə, qiyamlara baxsaq, səbəbi 90% mütəşəkkilliliyin olmaması, strategiyanın düzgün seçilməməsidir.

The 11 March People's Day took place, but there was neither any real plan nor a slogan. Throughout history, battles are lost 90 percent of the time for lack of organization and the wrong choice of strategy.

She also criticizes the location, a central shopping street, chosen by some of the protesters.

Hamısı bahalı qlamur mağazalar, evlər ya ofisdir ya kirayə qalan xaricilər ya ki, nizamın pozulmasını istəməyən hər şeydən razılar. Kim qoşula bilərdi ordan? Bunu hansısa gününü gündən zorla yetirən kasıb qəsəbədə eləmək məntiqli olmazdımı? Qəsəbədən başlayıb yürüş etmək olmazdımı?

It's full of expensive, glamorous shops, houses or offices. Those who rent them are either foreigners or those, satisfied with the way things are, who want peace and order. Who was going to join from there? Wouldn't it be logical to do this in some poor area, where people are struggling to make ends meet? Wouldn't it be possible to go to this area and start a march from there?

In a new blog, Bloq yolun bir hissəsidir, however, one of those organizers, Mejid Merjanli, responds.

Xəbərlər yayıldı ki bəs şəhərə ordu yeridirlər, hakimiyyət xalqı qıracaq. Burda hamıdan çox qorxmalı olan bizlər olmalı ikən məsələyə aidiyyatı olmayanlar düşdülər üstümüzə ki bəs “oturmusuz xaricdə, burda xalqın balalarını qırğına verirsiz”, “sizə görə burda gənclər haqqsız yerə həbs olundular”, “sizə görə İnsan Haqqları evini bağladılar, NDI bağladılar, AFUnu da bağlayacaqlar”. […] Biz martın 11dən bir neçə gün qabaqcadan ard-arda bəyanatlar verdik, yazılar yazdıq ki heç kim qarşıdurmaya getməsin, provokasiyaya uymasın. “Haranısa dağıdan, sındıran bizdən deyil” dəfələrcə bunu eventin divarına da yazdıq, öz səhifələrimizdə də.[…] Guya bu həbslərin baiskarları bizlərik. Cabbar Savalanlı, Eynulla Fətullayev, Emin Milli, Adnan Hacızadə də bu eventə görə tutulublar? 11 martda da tutulanlar haqqsız yerə həbs olunublar ondan qabaq tutulanlar da. Gedin hakimiyyətə deyin ki gəncləri niyə durduqları yerdə həbs eləyirsən, yox əgər cəsarətiniz çatmırsa bizdən nə istəyirsiniz? İnsan Hüquqları evinin bağlanması söhbətini hələ 1 ay bundan qabaq, Bakıda olarkən eşitmişdim. Çox adam da gözləyirdi bunu, yəni 11 martla heçbir əlaqəsi yoxdu. 12 martda da Müsavatın həsrətində olduğumuz möhtəşəm aksiyası oldu. Mən əminəm ki 11 mart buna güclü stimul oldu.

News spread that they are sending troops to the city, the authorities are going to butcher the people. While we are the ones who should be most afraid, people who have nothing to do with the situation are saying that “you are sitting abroad, sending people's kids to be butchered,” “youths got unjustly detained because of you,” “Human Rights House, NDI got shut down because of you, they'll shut down Free Thought University too.” […] A few days before 11 March we released several statements, wrote articles saying that nobody should participate in confrontations or give in to provocations. “Those who destruct and damage are not one of us,” – we wrote this time and time again, on the event's wall and on our own pages. […] Apparently we are the cause of these arrests. Were Jabbar Savalan, Eynulla Fatullayev, Emin Milli, Adnan Hajizada also arrested because of this event? Those arrested on 11 March were arrested as unjustly as those arrested before it. Go ask the government why they are arresting our youth for no reason – if you don't have the courage to do this, what do you want from us? I had already heard about Human Rights House being shut down one month ago, when I was in Baku. A lot of people were expecting this – it has nothing to do with 11 March. On 12 March, the Musavat Party held a great protest. I am sure that 11 March was a strong stimulus for this.

Meanwhile, some activity continues. On 18 March, Baku Post reports that nine youth organizations in Azerbaijan appealed against the arrests made prior to “Great People's Day” and also called on the authorities to allow freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstrations in the future.

Abbas Atilay/RFE

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