1

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

AZERBAIJAN: Regime employing and firing imams, a controversial policy

Direct regime employing and firing imams is “role of a religious organisation”

 

By Felix Corley

Forum 18 (10.06.2022) – https://bit.ly/3HlPLR5In the first known use of new powers for appointing, re-appointing every five years, and firing all Islamic clergy, in early May, the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations fired Imam Mirseymur Aliyev in Neftchala. He had held end of Ramadan prayers on 3 May, not the regime-enforced date of 2 May. Lawyer Asabali Mustafayev noted that the regime taking direct control of Islamic clergy means that “the state is now playing the role of a religious organisation.”

 

On 22 April, the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations approved Rules for its new roles of appointing, re-appointing every five years, and firing all Islamic clergy in Azerbaijan. Religion Law amendments which came into force in March transferred these roles from the state-controlled Caucasian Muslim Board to the State Committee.

The State Committee now interviews and recruits all Islamic clergy, appointing them to a maximum five-year term of office. Every five years the State Committee then reviews all clergy and decides whether or not to reappoint them for another five years. The State Committee also decides whether to fire clergy, including for violating the restrictive Religion Law (see below).

 

The reasons given for appointing and firing clergy are vague and unspecific, leaving much room for arbitrary official decisions. These reasons include: violating unspecified “standards of morality and ethics”; receiving unspecified support from foreign states, organisations or individuals; having a criminal conviction; or for a number of other vague and unspecific reasons (see below).

 

Asabali Mustafayev, a Baku-based lawyer who has taken up freedom of religion or belief cases, says the direct state takeover of appointing, re-appointing and firing Islamic clergy violates the Constitution. “The Constitution declares that religion and the state are separate,” he told Forum 18. “However, the state is now playing the role of a religious organisation” (see below).

 

Kanan Rovshanoglu, a commentator on religious issues, stressed that “no-one among the [Muslim] believers” had been demanding that the regime take direct control of appointing and firing Islamic clergy, or deciding every five years whether they stay in office (see below).

 

The State Committee enforces the dates chosen by the state-controlled Caucasian Muslim Board in advance for all mosques to celebrate major festivals, and can immediately fire imams who choose to observe festivals on different days they consider to be appropriate. The Board does not wait until devout Muslims can be certain of the date a festival should be marked before naming these dates (see below).

 

In an early sign of the impact of the new State Committee Rules, in early May the State Committee fired Imam Mirseymur Aliyev in Neftchala for holding the end of Ramadan prayers on 3 May, not the regime-enforced date of 2 May (see below).

 

“No one forced him [Imam Aliyev] to leave,” Sanan Khalilov, the State Committee representative for Shirvan, which includes Neftchala, claimed to Forum 18. “I spoke to him and he said he couldn’t fulfil his obligations. I simply accepted the resignation letters that he himself submitted. The State Committee then removed him” (see below).

 

Forum 18 was unable to find out why the regime transferred responsibility for appointing, re-appointing every five years, and firing all Islamic clergy to the State Committee. Aides to the Deputy Chair Gunduz Ismayilov and the head of its Department for Work with Religious Organisations Jahandar Alifzada refused to put Forum 18 through to them or anyone else on 10 June. Telephones at the Foundation for the Propagation of Moral Values (which is controlled by the State Committee) went unanswered each time Forum 18 called the same day.

 

Read full article HERE

 

Photo : State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, Baku -Cekli829/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

AZERBAIJAN-ARMENIA: “Our holy mission is to keep peace,” Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan says

In exclusive interview, head of Russian Orthodox Church in Baku invites defeated Armenians into economic cooperation after Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and laments lost ethnic fraternity.

 

By Jayson Casper

 

Christianity Today (05.01.2021) – https://bit.ly/3pQw3mq – In November, Christian-heritage Armenia surrendered to Muslim-majority Azerbaijani forces besieging the Caucasus mountain area of Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire agreement ended a six-week war that cost each side roughly 3,000 soldiers and left unsettled the final status of the Armenian-populated enclave they call Artsakh.

 

Azerbaijan, however, recovered the rest of its internationally recognized territory, including the historic city of Shushi. The first Karabakh war ended in 1994 and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes on both sides.

 

Archbishop Alexander, head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan, reached out to CT to promote a process of reconciliation.

 

It will not be easy.

 

Azerbaijanis returning to Adgam, left in ruins by Armenian occupation for 25 years, will see for the first time the damage to their city once inhabited by 30,000 people. Its mosque was relabeled “Persian,” while 63 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 67 mosques are said to be razed to the ground.

 

Meanwhile, Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, issued a plea to save the ancient heritage of Armenian church properties lost in the war. In 2005, a gravesite containing sixth-century khatchkar crosses was destroyed in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhchivan.

 

Azerbaijan has pledged to preserve them. But the United Nations’ cultural arm UNESCO stated that its authorities have failed to respond to several requests to deploy an independent fact-finding mission.

 

Meanwhile, members of Azerbaijan’s Christian Udi minority were dispatched to hold services in the ninth-century Dadivank Monastery. The Udi are related to the Caucasian Albanian Christians, assimilated into other ethnic groups a thousand years ago. But Azerbaijan maintains the churches of the region are actually Albanian, and not Armenian in origin.

 

International academics find it difficult to examine all the historical sources. But one nonaligned expert stated the theory has “little currency outside of Azerbaijan,” calling it “bizarre.”

 

Efforts at reconciliation must also overcome the trauma of war.

 

Azerbaijan stated that 100 civilians were killed in the shelling of populated areas, while Armenia stated at least 55 civilians were killed. Human Rights Watch condemned the use of cluster munitions on both sides.

 

Amnesty International has similarly documented video footage showing mistreatment of captured soldiers—including decapitations.

 

Alexander, elevated to archbishop in 2012, is not a neutral peacemaker.

 

Early in the war, he signed an Azerbaijani interfaith letter congratulating President Ilham Aliyev on his military victories. A later letter pledged that Azerbaijan was not seeking the displacement of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and offered them autonomy.

 

But after the war, amid claims of Azerbaijan erasing Armenian cultural heritage, a third letter endorsed the Albanian origin of churches and defended the nation’s multireligious character.

 

Aliyev has since retracted the offer of autonomy.

 

Of Azerbaijan’s population of 10 million, 96 percent are Muslim—roughly two-thirds Shiite and one-third Sunni. Alexander’s Russian Orthodox represent two-thirds of Christians, while over 15,000 Jews date back to the Old Testament era.

 

A peacemaker, however, does not need to be neutral, only committed.

 

Speaking through a translator, Alexander described his experience of past good relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, his hope for future economic cooperation, and his present willingness to meet with Catholicos Karekin II.

 

Read the full interview here.

Further recommended reading:

Six Christian sites Armenia fears it has lost to Azerbaijan

 





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

ARMENIA-AZERBAIJIAN: Erdogan’s victory in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Yerevan parliament stormed and violence outside the home of Prime Minister Pašinyan. Baku celebrates with victory parades. Turkey and Russia are moving towards the “Syrian model” of joint territorial control. 10 Iljušin-76 aircraft are ready to carry the troops of the “peacemakers”. In all, about 2000 soldiers will be deployed.

 

By Vladimir Rozanskij

 

AsiaNews.it (11.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/32zeBcS – The peace agreement reached yesterday between Armenia and Azerbaijian, with Russian mediation, is being seen as a surrender by the Armenians, and a strategic victory for Turkey, which has obtained its goal: Access to the the South Caucasus as a protagonist. Victory parades took place in the streets of Baku, while the Armenians stormed their parliament and government buildings in Yerevan.

 

10 Iljušin-76 aircraft have already landed in Russia to transport the “peacemaker” troops. In all, about 2000 soldiers, 80 armoured vehicles and 380 means of transport with specialized technologies for territorial control will be deployed.

 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev also stated that the peace mission in Nagorno Karabakh will be composed of mixed forces, Russian and Turkish. Turkey had engaged several foreign mercenaries in the conflict, ISIS fighters in Syria, who are likely to remain on the territory. Although Turkey did not take part directly in the negotiations, Ankara has appropriated victory. Turkish foreign minister Mevljut Chavushoglu has declared “Azerbaijan has achieved great success on the battlefield and at the negotiations table of the, and I wholeheartedly congratulate you on this success”.

 

The Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan said he accepted the agreement “with great suffering”, even if in fact the Armenians still achieved a significant result, retaining a crucial part of the Armenian-majority territory recaptured already 20 years ago and declared “the Nagorno Karabakh Republic”, with the exclusion of the city of Shusha.

 

Pašinyan’s major efforts are aimed at persuading his compatriots that “this is not a defeat”, because the pacts signed were the only way to keep control over the city of Stepanakert and the Lachinsk corridor. “I kneel before our dead, and I bow to all our soldiers … with their sacrifice they have saved the Armenians of Artsakh,” the premier wrote on Facebook, using the Armenian name of Karabakh.

 

The status quo achieved is not the one indicated for some time in the OECD’s “Minsk agreements”, under the supervision of Russia, France and the United States, but the one established by Russia, which has taken all responsibility for the agreement upon itself, and which assigns a much larger territory to Azerbaijan than that of the Minsk text. The city of Shusha and its surroundings, moreover, had already been lost by the Armenians since November 5: this was revealed by the president of the Armenian republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), Araik Arutjunyan, and on November 7 the Armenian forces had totally abandoned the city.

 

Armenians angry at the agreement attacked the president of parliament, Ararat Mirzoyan, who was beaten by demonstrators after pulling him out of the car he was trying to flee in. The residence of Prime Minister Pašinyan was also attacked and sacked; the prime minister of last year’s “flower revolution” is today overwhelmed by criticism from all political and social formations in the country, including the Apostolic Church of katholikos Karekin II. Pašinyan defended himself by claiming that he had to rush to the negotiating table, after “those who want my resignation had withdrawn from Shusha the previous days”.

 

However, the peace agreements appear rather fragile; Azerbaijani President Aliev has repeatedly stated that he wants to take back all of Nagorno Karabakh, and in all likelihood he will wait for the right moment to resume the conflict, as the signed pact lacks a long-term perspective. A new political crisis is also expected in Armenia, with the attempt to influence or replace Pašinyan. Turkey and Russia seem to concur on applying the “Syrian model” of joint control of the territory, where rather than peacekeeping forces, real armies will rule.

Photo: AsiaNews.it.





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

AZERBAIJAN: Shia Imam Sardar Babayev is free

Sardar Babayev had been in HRWF Database of FORB Prisoners since his arrest. For the first time, there are now no more FORB prisoners in the country

HRWF (01.04.2020) – Imam Sardar Babayev has been released at the normal end of his prison term. He had been arrested on 22 February 2017 on the basis of a controversial law (Article 168-1.3.1 of the Penal Code) criminalizing religious activities by clerics who had gained theological education in a foreign country, Iran in his case.

 

A delegation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was then in Baku to meet with Azerbaijani government officials, religious communities, civil society representatives, and human rights defenders to assess religious freedom conditions and discuss the impact of Azerbaijan’s religion law on the ability of individuals and communities to exercise their freedom of religion. No doubt that their presence in Azerbaijan at that time facilitated his release.

 

The number of people in prison in Azerbaijan for the exercise of their religious freedom has progressively decreased over the years as indicated by our database of FORB prisoners (https://bit.ly/2xCvbfi):

 

2015: 19 prisoners (6 Sunnis – 6 followers of the Turkish theologian Said Nursi – 4 Jehovah’s Witnesses – 3 Shia Muslims)

 

2016: 12 prisoners (5 followers of Said Nursi – 3 Sunni Muslims – 2 Shias – 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses)

 

2017: 2 prisoners (Shia Muslims)

 

2018: 2 prisoners (Shia Muslims)

 

2019: 1 prisoner (Shia Muslim)

 

However, the decreasing number of FORB prisoners is not the result of less repressive laws. There hasn’t been any substantial change in the legislation regarding FORB, but its implementation has been less aggressive in the past few years. No doubt that the role of the US and the EU behind the scenes has contributed to these developments.

 

A case has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Babayev v. Azerbaijan (Application No. 34015/17). Police arrested Sardar Babayev in February 2017. A court sentenced him in July 2017 to three years imprisonment for leading prayers in a mosque after having received his religious education outside Azerbaijan. His lawyer initially brought his case to the ECHR to challenge his pre-trial detention, but afterwards he updated it to challenge Sardar Babayev’s sentence.





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

USCIRF Delegation travels to Azerbaijan to assess religious freedom conditions

HRWF calls upon the Azerbaijani government to release Shia Imam Sardar Babayev.

 

USCIRF (09.03.2020) – https://bit.ly/2IBv7ig – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Vice Chairs Gayle Manchin and Nadine Maenza traveled to Baku and Quba, Azerbaijan from February 24 to February 28 to meet with Azerbaijani government officials, religious communities, civil society representatives, and human rights defenders to assess religious freedom conditions and discuss the impact of Azerbaijan’s religion law on the ability of individuals and communities to exercise their freedom of religion.

USCIRF Vice Chairs and Staff with Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Religious Associations Chairman Mubariz Gurbanli and U.S. Embassy Personnel in Baku

USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin said, “We are encouraged to see that Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Religious Associations has taken some promising first steps to allow the country’s many religious communities to more freely and fully practice their religion and beliefs. The last year’s precipitous decline in police raids and other forms of harassment of unregistered religious communities – up until recently a hallmark of religious freedom violations in Azerbaijan – signifies an important move in the right direction that we hope the government will codify into law. We welcomed last year President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to pardon a number of political and religious prisoners, and hope that additional religious prisoners will be released for the coming Novruz holiday later this month.”

 

USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza added, “Azerbaijan has taken great pride in its history of multiculturalism and religious tolerance and should bolster those deserving values by ensuring that religious freedom is truly a reality for all. Current provisions of the religion law that mandate the registration of religious organizations in order to engage in worship or other religious practices, limit religious activity to a religious organization’s registered legal address, and require state approval for all religious literature should be amended to comply with international standards. Finally, as guaranteed in the constitution of Azerbaijan, the government should adopt an alternative service and permit conscientious objection for those citizens for whom military service conflicts with the tenets of their beliefs.”

 

USCIRF will issue its detailed findings from the visit and recommendations for U.S. policy when it releases its 2020 Annual Report on April 28. USCIRF has placed Azerbaijan on its Tier 2 list of countries for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern” since 2013.

 

 

HRWF Comment

 

The number of people in prison in Azerbaijan for the exercise of their religious freedom has progressively decreased over the years as indicated by our database of FORB prisoners (https://hrwf.eu/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-database-archive/):

 

2015: 19 prisoners (6 Sunnis – 6 followers of the Turkish theologian Said Nursi – 4 Jehovah’s Witnesses – 3 Shia Muslims)
2016: 12 prisoners (5 followers of Said Nursi – 3 Sunni Muslims – 2 Shias – 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses)
2017: 2 prisoners (Shia Muslims)
2018: 2 prisoners (Shia Muslims)
2019: 1 prisoner (Shia Muslim)

 

However, the decreasing number of FORB prisoners is not a result of less repressive laws. There hasn’t been any substantial change in the legislation regarding FORB, but its implementation has been less aggressive in the past few years. No doubt that the role of the US and the EU behind the scenes has contributed to these developments.

 

One such example of this is a case that has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning a Shia imam: Babayev v. Azerbaijan (Application No. 34015/17). Police arrested Sardar Babayev in February 2017. A court sentenced him in July 2017 to three years imprisonment for leading prayers in a mosque after having received his religious education outside Azerbaijan. His lawyer initially brought his case to the ECHR to challenge his pre-trial detention, but he has since updated it to challenge Sardar Babayev’s sentence.

 

HRWF calls upon the Azerbaijani government to release Sardar Babayev and to create a legal civil service option for conscientious objectors to military service.


Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1310