Açiq məmbələrdən

Açiq məmbələrdən

Baku / 30.04.20 / Turan: “I would never have thought that life in the 21st century could be so cruel and there could be so much injustice to people.” This was stated by Seudin Zoletich, who worked in terrible conditions on the construction of buildings in Azerbaijan - Buta Palace and Baku Expo Center - through the company SerbAz.

A study by the International Journalism Project on Organized Crime and Corruption (OCCRP) sheds light on the appalling working and living conditions of foreign workers in Azerbaijan.

The first part of the Slaves for Development report says SerbAz hired workers from the Balkans to build buildings like Buta Palace and the Baku Expo Center in Baku. An OCCRP investigation revealed that the company belonged to the wife and a close partner of the Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan, Azad Rahimov.

The Ministry hired SerbAz to implement these construction projects worth 54 million manat. Azad Rahimov, his wife Zulfiya and their business partner refused to answer the questions of the authors of the study.

OCCRP co-founder Drew Sullivan told Voice of America that they tried to contact the embassies, ministries and relatives of the Minister, but they did not respond. “They did not refute this. When you are accused of something serious, you deny it. But in Azerbaijan they don’t even want to answer you,” Sullivan says.

Zoletich recalls that he was very excited when he first heard about the work offered by SerbAz. The company was offering him $ 5-8 an hour, and that seemed attractive to him. However, shortly after arriving in Azerbaijan, Zoletich realized that in reality everything was different.

The man who met Zoletich and other employees at the airport asked them to hand in their passports. Then they were taken by bus to a large house with a fence 2 meters high. In this house there were more than 100 people. They were told that they could leave the house only after permission.

“Each bedroom had two bunk beds, and they were so close to each other that it was impossible to move between them,” recalls Zoletich.

The conditions were very tiring: work began at 5 a.m. every day and lasted until 9 p.m. Workers were given brown bread, eggs and sausages.

Many workers lost weight during their stay in Baku. “They were in a concentration camp,” said Zoletich.

Workers waited for hours to use the toilet and bath, as the house had only two bathrooms. They were subjected to unimaginable fines to reduce their wages. So, for an unmade bed - $ 50; for sitting at work - $ 100, for drinking alcohol - $ 500, etc. The goal was to cut the amount of their salary. According to Zoletich, some of the workers died and some were beaten.

After some time, the lack of rights of the workers and growing hunger began to attract the attention of others. The first to pay attention to this was a man selling cigarettes and food to workers in a small shop near construction sites. He maintained contact with a local non-governmental organization, the Azerbaijan Migration Center, led by Alovsat Aliyev, a former police officer.

After meeting with the workers, Aliyev contacted Radio Liberty and came to the construction site to film what was happening. Later, he contacted the embassies of the countries where these workers were from, and international organizations.

Aliyev also held private meetings with representatives of the Azerbaijani government, demanding payment of wages and the return of workers to their countries, but the process was very slow, and he faced stiff opposition.

Drew Sullivan told the Voice of America that Alovsat Aliyev was threatened for investigating the matter and was forced to leave Azerbaijan. "We believe that all of this benefited one family most of all," he said.

After the incident became public and workers began to protest, SerbAz gradually began sending them back to their countries. However, the workers were paid very little. After Zoletich and several others returned to their countries, an investigation into their ill-treatment began.

Astra, a Serbian anti-trafficking organization, interviewed the workers, and based on this information, local prosecutors arrested 13 local SerbAz representatives.

In Azerbaijan, Alovsat Aliyev’s organization sued SerbAz on behalf of its employees for delays in payment and moral damage.

SerbAz claims that the employees initially signed the contract not with them, but with a company registered in the UK, and therefore the labor legislation of Azerbaijan does not apply to them. On this basis, the court dismissed the complaint.

The last hope of Zoletich and others is the European Court of Human Rights, which is to make a decision on this case this year.

 “I never thought that in the 21st century life can be so cruel and so unfair to people,” says Zoletich.

Drew Sullivan believes that this problem shows that Azerbaijan is one of the countries with a high level of corruption at a high level.

“This happens when a family remains in power for a long time and they think that they own the world. They consider their country a private feudal land,” said Sullivan. —16D-


Leave a review


Follow us on social networks

News Line