What's Going on in Azerbaijan?
by Atilla Aliyev
2022 has started with a lively start for Azerbaijan as well as for many countries. The anger against the government, which has been trying to calm and put the people to sleep with nationalism, is increasing day by day by fueling conflict over national issues. The actions that are far from mass in the country, for the time being, may turn into a more comprehensive situation as they spread among the people.
On April 21, more than 100 Wolt couriers declared a 1-day strike as their employers did not meet their demands for a raise in their salaries. According to the statements of the workers, the bosses threatened to dismiss the workers, saying "There are hundreds of people who want to work". Using the "reserve army of the unemployed" tactic of capitalism to force workers to constantly adapt, the bosses of the Wolt Company did not meet the couriers' demands. The protest that the workers, who wanted to raise a voice against this situation, planned to do in front of the Hatayi metro on April 23, was dispersed by the police. The couriers, who made a statement to the journalists, said, “We carry the dishes that we do not even know the taste of for 1-2 manats, and they steal our labor.” said. Following the strike of Wolt couriers, Bolt company couriers also declared a 1-day strike on April 26. In the strike announcement, the couriers said, “Let's not go to work on April 26. Then the Bolt company realizes that without us, nobody's business will work. How long will we carry orders for 1 manat 50 qepiks? You travel 10 km, it writes 4 manats by force. If you're a former courier, you once knew that you were getting what you deserved for the time and effort you put into it. Now the State Social Security Fund payment has increased from 65.50 AZN to 75 AZN, and the medical insurance payment has increased from 10 AZN to 12 AZN, while salaries have decreased from 1.90 AZN to 1.50 AZN. If you do not want to be indifferent to the events and follow the progress, close the application on April 26 and be with us. Let's support each other. Now is the time for solidarity.”
On May 1, Bolt and Wolt couriers protested together. The workers, who said that the salary they received did not meet their basic needs for survival, demanded the bosses of the companies increase their salaries.
Opposition activists, journalists, and members of civil society in Azerbaijan held protests on May 14 to protest against the crimes, increasing violence, and impunity committed against the opposition in Azerbaijan recently.
Tevfik Yakuplu, Deputy Chairman of the Musavat Party, was detained and brutally beaten during a protest organized in support of political prisoner Saleh Rustamli on December 1, 2021. The prosecutor denied this, and the authorities said that he "beat himself". In April, another dissident Bahtiyar Hajiyev was kidnapped by an unidentified group and tortured. On May 8, a group of people had journalist Ayten Memmedova cut her off in front of her apartment and threatened her and her child, telling her to stay away from her work. The march held on May 14 was aimed at raising a strong voice against these attacks:
“Since the end of last year, the number of beatings, kidnappings, and extraordinary tortures of activists, politicians, and journalists has increased in the country. […] Our purpose in the march is to draw the public's attention to these cases and demands. Rüstem İsmailbaylı, 20, one of the organizers, told IntelliNews that despite these threats, we want to show that we are united and still silent and that the public is on our side.”
At the rally, slogans such as "We Don't Want a Criminal State", "Queers are against violence" and "Don't kill justice, stop murder" were chanted. Surrounded by two police walls, the demonstrators proceeded on the planned route and ended the rally by making a press statement in front of the Ministry of Interior. 26 people were released shortly after being detained. After the Karabakh war was over, the government, which tried to convince the people that the interests of the people and the interests of the sovereigns are the same, and the sense of "victory", failed to fulfill its post-war promises. The promised payment was not made to the veterans who were injured in the war, and the raises began to increase every day. Attacks on dissidents and journalists unmasked the government, which was wearing the mask of democracy.
Although it is difficult for the protests to become massive in the country governed by Ilham Aliyev's "iron fist", it is not impossible. The protests that have started to appear again are the harbinger of this. The system, which threatens the public with fear and dismissal, reveals its own failure. Trotsky in his book “Class Character of the Soviet State”; “The oppressed masses either lived on hope or fell into indifference,” he said. Azerbaijan needs a socialist hope in order to reduce the situation of depoliticization, oppression, and indifference to exploitation.
Azerbaijani activists protest against police brutality in Baku. (2022, May 16). Javid Agha. https://www.intellinews.com/azerbaijani-activists-protest-against-police-brutality-in-baku-244385