Ali Karimli, the leader of Azerbaijani Popular Front party, recently caused controversy by criticizing the Azerbaijani government over its actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. In response to the government statement that Azerbaijan can take Karabakh “if needed,” Karimli wondered on Facebook, “So why couldn’t you take it?”
Karimli’s statement sparked a series of protests, with the latest one held on April 12 in front of Karimli’s house. Human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, who was released from jail in late March, writes exclusively for Meydan TV that attacks against Karimli are simply diverting attention from truly important issues.
In an emergency situation, the state might restrict certain rights in favor of security interests and in order to prevent leaks of military secrets. However, these restrictions must serve legitimate objectives. During military operations and even at war, the rights to debate issues of public concern, to ask questions, to challenge the decisions made and to protest must be guaranteed.
These types of questions and concerns might as well be directed at opposition members who seek to take over the power. In normal countries, opposition forces actively participate in discussions and decision-making processes concerning important issues. Therefore, they should be held accountable for consequences of those decisions and if necessary, be criticized for their actions. It is normal. However, this criticism should not come from the government itself.
It is absolutely normal that the public, including journalists, youth and citizens, ask, criticize and even protest against Ali Karimli’s opinion, along with other opposition leaders’ opinions on the latest events. There are, in fact, a lot of points here that I support too. Since I have a different approach towards war, especially the process of decision-making, losses and the attitude towards those losses.
In this case, the protests against Ali Karimli are organized by the authorities. The reason why these protests are dangerous is that the government is better equipped to manipulate such sensitive subjects as the occupation of lands. This is how the government tests the public.
In this particular case, the government itself should be subject to criticism, since it does not consider public opinion, does not engage the society, political parties, and civil society organizations in discussions.
With such campaigns, the government is diverting attention from truly important issues, controlling public opinion, and testing technologies to distract people’s justified anger caused by the serious consequences of wrong decisions. In that sense, our concerns are not only about odious methods used protests against Ali Karimli. This is also a worrisome matter as the main objective is the society’s desire for freedom and democracy, our basic freedom. Tomorrow, under similar circumstances, the government can target each one of us. We might not always accept the approaches, views and positions of Ali Karimli, Ilgar Mammadov, Haji Taleh Baghirzade or Intiqam Aliyev. However, we must stand by the values we fight for.