Baku/23.03.20/Turan: In his March 19 Novruz address, President Aliyev cursed and threatened Azeri political opposition. Official state media presented this speech as Aliyev’s congratulatory public address on Novruz celebrations. Yet this was nothing more than a tirade, spewing hatred and anger at a significant part of the Azeri population, says a statement by the National Council of Democratic Forces.
Those who take a principled stand in opposing Aliyev’s authoritarian and incompetent governance were labelled as ‘’enemies’’ ‘’ traitors’’ and the ‘’5th column”. Strangely, these sentiments directed at the Azeri political opposition were aired in the segment of the speech supposedly covering the wide-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
The following is an excerpt from Aliyev’s speech;
‘’ ...At the same time, we see open sabotage. Where is this coming from? From the 5th column, from the enemies within us, from those who call themselves the opposition, the traitors who get funded from abroad. Their main goal is to destroy Azerbaijan. The worse things get in Azerbaijan, the better do they feel. They are enemies and we must say this openly. This disease, we don’t yet know what this will lead to. For this reason, for the duration of this pandemic, a new era of relationships will exist. Everyone must be aware of this, and it is not very unlikely to expect that at some point a state of emergency may have to be declared. In such circumstances, isolating these members of the 5th column will become a historic necessity”
The National Council condemns Ilham Aliyev’s absurd speech comprised of baseless, illogical and demeaning statements. It is regrettable that the President would choose such foul rhetoric in his Novruz address. Ilham Aliyev is in fact (and for some time now) implementing a fascist policy towards Azeri opposition.
The Television Media services under his control are openly calling for the social isolation of the political opposition.
There have been countless intrusions into the private lives of opposition activists. Discrimination, repression, coercion and intimidation of family members, even interferences with weddings and funerals are all commonplace occurences.
Arrests and imprisonments of the opposition leaders and activists; tortures and beatings; travel bans on them and their family members; asset freezes - all of these have become daily practices of Ilham Aliyev’s governance.
Given this context, Aliyev’s recent speech can be interpreted as a renewed call on the state institutions to commence a new wave of discimination and repression.
Most importantly, Ilham Aliyev decoded his own plan. He expressed a clear intent to ‘’isolate’’ the ‘’5th column, enemies, traitors’’ in case of a state of emergency. Since it is clear that his ‘’5th column’’ labels are directed at the opposition, he clearly telegraphed a plan to start a new wave of repression and political imprisonment. Aliyev clearly admitted to the fact that it is more important and urgent for him to attack and neutralize the political opposition, instead of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Precisely for this reason, Aliyev failed to list any potential benefits of declaring a state of emergency in dealing with coronavirus - declaring instead, his intent on using it as an excuse to isolate the political opposition.
It is likely that this process will entail adoption of few ‘’legislations’’ and ‘’legal directives’’ aimed at curbing the free expression on the internet and the social media. It is also probable that as a last step, the government may decide to shut down the social media completely. Finally, it is not completely unlikely that the government would engage in destabilizing plots to create a pretext for widespread arrests and imprisonments of the political opposition.
The National Council notes with regret that Ilham Aliyev’s speech is an indicator that Azerbaijan is moving towards a more repressive state from the classical authoritarian model. This speech also confirms that all repression and coercion directed at the political opposition originates from the very top - Ilham Aliyev himself.
The National Council calls on the Azerbaijani people and the world community to be aware of this new reality - to not allow Ilham Aliyev to implement his fascist policies in the 21st century, reads the statement. -0-