After personal photos and correspondence of the arrested activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev spread on social networks, a disagreement arose in civil society.
Some condemn him for these video frames and correspondence, refuse to defend him. Others urge not to stop defending Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, claiming that he did not distribute these video frames and correspondence, that he was illegally arrested, and while in custody and cannot answer the charges.
Who is right?
Human rights activist Intigam Aliyev answers questions from ASTNA on this topic.
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Question: How successful was the campaign to protect Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and is it necessary to protect him after what happened? If so, why?
Answer: I have no right to accuse anyone for some reason of defending or refusing to defend anyone. Neither in connection with the history of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, nor in connection with the history of any other person. Both protection by exerting pressure, and calls to abandon protection, accompanied by pressure, are extremely harmful. It is extremely difficult in conditions of psychosis, hype to do useful work, to build a thoughtful public campaign, to involve people in this process. The campaign in defense of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was poorly organized, there was aggression, populism, accusations against society – what was not there. It was not felt that the section of society that accused others of not supporting Bakhtiyar enough had a clear idea of what and how people should do for this; often what they did was spontaneous, and sometimes harmful, and beyond the ethical framework. All this led not to the involvement of even more people in the process, but to the departure of those who were its participants.
Those who are involved in this case have problems with professionalism, they confuse human rights with politics, they lack vision. As a result, serious work turned out to be reduced to the level of amateur activity, instead of systematic work, “storms in a glass of water” occur for the most part, the protection campaign is primitive in content and, as mentioned above, is often even harmful.
I am not writing to accuse anyone. These problems are typical not only for the protection of Bakhtiyar, but also others (protection campaigns – Ed.) do not exceed it in quality. Of course, the reason is power. Its long-term policy aimed at destroying civil society has led to the fact that, like all other spheres, human rights activities have been disfigured.
The second question. The problem of political prisoners is a systemic problem. Society should focus its efforts not so much on freeing individuals from prison, but on solving this problem.
When conducting campaigns, it is possible to emphasize the case of a political prisoner. Such things are allowed in defense campaigns. At the same time, it is physically difficult to conduct a high-quality campaign of 30-50 people (there are sometimes more than 100 people on our lists of political prisoners), and the effect is insignificant. But a more effective means is to choose one or several well-known people from among them, to highlight the problem of political prisoners, especially in the framework of international campaigns on these cases, to attract more people to it both inside and outside the country. Such effective campaigns make it easier to draw attention to the cases of other prisoners.
The personalization of the problem by unsystematic, ill-conceived, and limited only by images and calls for “release” or “such a day of hunger strike” actions negates the effectiveness of such campaigns, reduces their social value. It also causes other political prisoners to find themselves in the shadows, and this inevitably irritates them, their relatives and supporters…
Question: Is Bakhtiyar Hajiyev guilty of distributing personal correspondence and video images on social media? What was the purpose of those who did it? And how right are those who condemn Bakhtiyar Hajiyev for this correspondence and images?
Answer: There is no doubt that these materials were obtained from the information carriers of Bakhtiyar or any other person through cybercrime.
Here the target should be the government, because the act committed by it is disgusting, immoral and is a stain for the state. We must realize the danger and risk this poses for each of us, and in what a terrible environment we are doomed to live, we must condemn those who consider it permissible, realize the importance of sending them to the dustbin of history, and no matter how difficult it is, we must try to explain it to the public.
There is another sensitive point in this, which is unfair to ignore, and harmful, from the point of view of public interests and values. In the camp opposing the authorities there are well-known public figures both in the country and abroad, who have ties with international organizations and even governments. They strive to bring positive changes to the country, to restore democratic values. Among them there are those who claim power, at least for political posts. Since such people act from the position of accountability of the state, then the measure of their moral obligations to society is higher.
There are many things in this case that, even if they are true (it has been proven that a lot of false information has been leaked into circulation), go beyond the scope of private life. Those who consider it permissible for themselves (and for others), by indulging in behavior that goes beyond the legal and ethical framework, contribute to the formation of an environment in which people are treated as things, as inferior beings, cause harm to others, and also create favorable conditions for the commission by the state, without hesitation, such disgusting deeds.
In this sense, some questions remain relevant: does criminal behavior lying on one side of the scale deprive the state of the right to punish those who are on the other side of the scale for behavior that clearly goes beyond private life and endangers a large number of people?
Or does such behavior of someone who was illegally imprisoned give a reason to refuse to defend him, humiliate, lynch those who continue to do this?
One more question: is it necessary to stop such discussions if a person, in connection with the arrest, has the opportunity to respond to criticism and accusations addressed to him?
Unfortunately, there is such an atmosphere in the country that it has become difficult to discuss such things normally. And not only on public platforms; and in the camp of those who claim to be fighting for democracy, there are more, inflating the atmosphere of psychosis and aggression, which makes it impossible to discuss socially important and at the same time sensitive issues.
In the specific case of Bakhtiyar, this manifested itself as follows: if earlier it was considered shameful not to write “liberate” and the like (who was not among those who called on society to “have a conscience!”), now to protect him (in fact, not him, but his rights) is a “trap”. And then, and now, accusations against those who think otherwise were a trivial matter…
Question: At the same time, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is accused of working for the authorities, for some clans. After the appearance of this correspondence and video images, even many public activists began to accuse him of “sexual espionage”. The conclusion they came to is basically that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was arrested as a result of his misdeeds. That is, he is a victim of an inter-clan, intra-government struggle, and he should mainly be protected by the clan he serves. Do you think it is right to refuse to defend Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on the basis of these accusations?
Answer: The accusation of “sex espionage” is a very serious accusation. We are talking about a crime, and in order to come to such a conclusion, there must be serious grounds, facts. I don’t have any. And Bakhtiyar has not been charged with such an accusation.
As for Bakhtiyar’s accusations of working for the authorities, for some clans. In my opinion, no minister would dare to give at least one manat to someone who brings another minister or their leader for public discussion without instructions from “above”. He knows that it can come up and then he will be skinned. Those who sit in large armchairs know perfectly well that Pegasus was bought in Israel not only to listen to people in the socio-political sphere.
Each of these ministers is surrounded by a bunch of informers, ranging from minor officials to the highest ranks.
If Kemaleddin Heydarov (or anyone else of the same level) pays someone monthly or will pay in the future, then it means it has been agreed. Otherwise, he would not be sitting in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, but in a completely different place (where there are no soft chairs, and if there are, then the chair is not one of those that provide daily tribute with suitcases, you have to pay a monthly tribute for such a chair yourself).
In other words, if someone receives from some minister, whatever you call it, a fee, a package, it means that he is financed by the government and he is controlled by it. If someone does this, he deserves every reproach. If Bakhtiyar did this, then he should definitely be questioned. If anyone does this now, when Bakhtiyar is in custody, then this is his right; if anyone thinks, “let him be released from prison, get the opportunity to answer questions, accusations,” this is also a position.
As for the refusal of someone’s protection, it all depends on the point of view from which to approach the issue. There are those who defend Bakhtiyar as a person – and his friends and relatives who sympathize with him as a critic of the authorities, those who see him as an educated young man, a Harvard graduate who can benefit his country, etc. The latter defend Bakhtiyar’s rights because the authorities have arrested him and people like him, to punish. That is, the purpose of the arrest is not legitimate, legal, but political. Any politically motivated arrest must be challenged regardless of a person’s personal qualities and views. Because in a society where people are arrested for political reasons, everyone is a potential victim.
In other words, when the government, without presenting convincing evidence, calls a believer a terrorist or an agent and puts him in prison, and we, being supporters of secularism, justify this arrest by saying, “It’s good that they were arrested, if they had the opportunity, they established a Sharia state and beheaded us,” then we we ourselves turn into a potential victim. If we scold a representative of a national minority who was unlawfully arrested or died in prison under mysterious circumstances, curse him and his dead because of outrageous statements, speeches, behavior, then tomorrow the same thing may happen to us. We have seen how people who are far from politics are pulled out of their apartments naked for protesting against injustice. Each of us at any moment, even for the slightest protest, can be in their place. And at best, anything can happen to us.
This incident made it possible to verify this once again. In order to discredit their opponent, the authorities did not hesitate to endanger others. This force, having raised the topic of honor of female representatives as a national and moral value on the shield, using it as a tool on occasion, instead of protecting women’s lives from the danger threatening them, spreads their images, names, addresses, creating a real threat to them. Because the life of a citizen has no value for them.
The answer to his question, “How do you know that the authorities are doing this?”, is very simple. If the authorities had nothing to do with it, they would have taken action long ago, condemned the invasion of privacy, opened a criminal case and protected everyone whose life was in danger; at least someone could have made a statement on behalf of the state and condemned what happened. But nothing like that happens. On the contrary, there is a bitter experience of how the state behaves in such cases. All this suggests that the authorities had a hand in this crime and abomination…
In a word, we may dislike and even hate someone for his views and qualities. But in order not to become victims of arbitrariness and lawlessness ourselves, we must protest against his illegal arrest and conviction…
Question: How should the protection be organized?
Answer: Five or ten lawyers bear the burden of political affairs in this country. It is very difficult to constantly work in such a state under unthinkable pressure and build high-quality protection.
Lawyers are doing everything they can. Advocacy in this country is hard work. And in political affairs, it is much harder. You have to work under pressure from the authorities, the opposition, social networks.
Sometimes we identify a lawyer with the people they protect. The lawyer’s task is to defend the human rights to the last, for the protection of which he undertook. To say that they say “so-and-so is a bad guy, why are you protecting him?” and blaming a lawyer means playing into the hands of the authorities, who want to see a lawyer lose. We are obliged to our lawyers, who, despite all the difficulties, risks and mistakes, do this work.
In fact, private life is one of those topics that lawyers face almost every day while carrying out their professional activities. When they go to a meeting with their clients, they are illegally searched (whatever it is called, in fact it is a search),
violate the conditions of confidentiality of meetings, correspondence and telephone conversations, listen. When such situations arise, especially when cybercriminals invade privacy, lawyers should be at the forefront of the protesters. You may not like someone, but at least it is an ethical obligation stemming from the nature of the profession to protest when the procedural rights of their defending colleagues are violated. But in this process, there was no one who raised his voice, except for 5-10 lawyers who always defend the right. This does not mean that there are no or few people who understand the essence of advocacy, the importance of privacy and the harm that cyber crime causes to society. There are quite a few of them. But they do not raise their voice, because they are afraid, afraid. The reason for this is the environment created by the government forbidding them to speak and the Bar Association controlled by it.