The Father of a Solider: Fighting Peacetime Deaths in the Military

Beyali Azizov is the father of Elhan Azizov, a tragically-deceased soldier in the Azerbaijani army. Over the past seven years Beyali has become the symbol of an Azerbaijani father fighting to this day for the rights of his deceased son.

On January 28, 2010, Elhan and a comrade, Sadig Mamadov, burst into the office of their division commander and using automatic weapons opened fire on the commanders who were in the office, after which they shot one another.

This is the official version from the Ministry of Defense.

However, Elhan Azizov’s and Sadig Mamadov’s parents don’t believe it. They told journalists that signs of violence were found on the soldiers’ bodies, and that the official investigation hid this fact.

In Azerbaijan, service in the army is by draft. Men from 18 to 35 years of age can be drafted. The term of service is eighteen months. For university graduates, it is one year. Contract service is permitted after 17 years of age. A maximum of 70,000 servicemen can serve in the Azerbaijani Army at any one time. According to 2016 reports, the number of servicemen is currently 66,000.

According to unofficial data (from monitoring performed on the basis of information in the press and social media), 147 soldiers died in the Azerbaijani army in 2016. 109 of them died in combat operations, while 38 died in non-combat circumstances. The causes of non-combat deaths are varied: suicides, infighting between soldiers and officers, illness…

In many instances parents complain that the official version of the deaths don’t reflect the truth.

According to the laws of the Azerbaijan Republic, the life of every soldier in the national army is insured to the amount of 11,000 manat (5500 euros). The families of those who die or are killed in the army are entitled to this amount.

But sometimes bureaucratic or other problems prevent the families of the deceased from receiving this payment. According to information circulated in the local media, the families of 13,500 deceased have thus far not received their lawful compensation. Among those awaiting ‘blood payment’ are families that have already been waiting for twenty years.

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