October 14, 2009

Detained Azeri blogger turns 30 in jail

Today, on 14 October, detained Azerbaijani blogger Emin Milli is celebrating his birthday in a Baku jail.

October 10, 2009

Armenia, Turkey sign historic protocols… eventually

Under the watchful eyes of the United States and Russia, Armenia and Turkey have finally signed two protocols which many hope will see the normalization of relations between the two neighbouring countries. Fixing again for Al Jazeera English and the BBC, today’s historic development meant another visit to Margara, an Armenian village on the border […]

October 4, 2009

Round the clock protest ahead of possible Armenia-Turkey breakthrough

While most were enjoying a sunny afternoon in the Armenian capital, a few dozen members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) continued their round the clock hunger strike outside the main government building and the adjacent Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The nationalist party is staging the action to protest what many consider to be […]

September 30, 2009

An unexpected visit to an Azeri village wedding

It was a dream come true. Despite knowing each other for several months online, the chances of meeting regional analyst and superstar blogger Arzu Geybullayeva seemed remote at best and unlikely at worst. As Arzu is based in Istanbul, Turkey, and Baku, Azerbaijan, it’s not easy for someone based in Armenia with an Armenian  surname […]

September 28, 2009

Story of a father and son, with intermission

Democratic activism is a long tradition in Hajizade family, as well as the state of being assaulted and beaten for their activities – the new element here is the fact that Adnan Hajizade now is being tried for both. A story of a father and son with intermission of sixteen years

September 6, 2009

Azerbaijan: Video bloggers go on trial

     Two months after they were arrested, detained video bloggers Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli finally went on trial in Azerbaijan. Most observers believe that the case against the two youth activists is politically motivated and an attempt to silence the two main founders of the OL! progressive youth movement and AN Network. Using new […]

September 3, 2009

Armenian political groups fume, but little visible opposition to Turkey protocols

As the international community applauds the presidents of Armenia and Turkey for making unprecedented progress in attempts to normalize relations, others are not so ecstatic. Indeed, while many consider the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of borders between the two estranged neighbours as crucial in establishing peace and stability in the region, opposition […]

August 30, 2009

Rapping for freedom and democracy in Azerbaijan (updated)

     ShirBand ft Slang. Qorxaga ver cesaret: The title means ‘show courage to coward(s). The chorus is saying that this imprisonment, enslavement won’t go on for much longer; ‘your protesting tongue, your words are golden; your arms that rise fearlessly in the Square are golden.’ Then it talks about how they’re selling bullshit to everyone, […]

August 26, 2009

Social media and conflict resolution in the South Caucasus

In the 15 years since the May 1994 ceasefire agreement put the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh on hold, various peace proposals have faltered. But if Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, was forced to resign in 1998 by nationalist hardliners in his government opposed to a compromise settlement, […]

August 25, 2009

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse in Armenia and Azerbaijan then think again. As if youth activsts being detained in both countries while a defamation case is prepared against an environmental campaigner in the former, the situation as it pertains to human rights continues to deteriorate. Now, ultra-nationalist groups, edged on by their […]

August 23, 2009

Child abuse allegations lead to action against activist

A scandal over allegations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse in a boarding school for children with special needs has led to new concerns that youth activists in the South Caucasus have now been targetted by governments in Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the beginning of July, opposition youth activist Tigran Arakelyan was arrested and placed […]

August 20, 2009

New motto of Azeri Government – there’s no such thing as bad publicity?

As the government in Baku continues to crack down on dissent, the least it is concerned with seems to be its reputation abroad.

August 19, 2009

Azerbaijan: Even more Eurovision stupidity

Music lovers the world over might consider it to be some kind of dumb competition where the most mediocre of talent gets its brief moment of fame, but for tin-pot dictators in the South Caucasus, Eurovision is taken very seriously indeed. Forget the spirit in which the competition was meant to be held, for Armenia, […]

August 17, 2009

Georgi Vanyan: Every family has the desire for peace

Fifteen years after the 1994 ceasefire put the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh on hold, reports that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan might be moving closer to a final peace settlement have caught many unaware. The last time international mediators were as optimistic about the prospects for peace was in 2001 […]

August 12, 2009

End of an epoch – dismantling Baku’s suburban railways

Photo from Starting on 12 August, Azerbaijani transportation authorities have begun to dismantle Baku’s celebrated, but rapidly degrading suburban railway system, which was founded by famous Swedish family of the Nobels and went through several major overhauls in its history. Constructed between 1878 and 1880, a short private railway line started to carry petrol […]

July 26, 2009

What’s in a name? Everything, apparently…

The South Caucasus is a fractured region divided by ethnic fault lines and devastated by three frozen conflicts. With most people in the region looking to the past rather than the future, writing on the three republics which make up the region can therefore be very problematic indeed, and especially with an Armenian name. Forget […]

July 23, 2009

Republic of Facebook

Following the beating and arrest of two youth activists and bloggers in Baku, who were using new media as well as Facebook to spread their ideas among their followers, the local online community has exploded in a way that prompted support from global community ifor the arrested bloggers and in general, the freedom of speech […]

July 22, 2009

Speculation, misinformation and irresponsible journalism rife ahead of possible Karabakh deal

Talk of a possible framework peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan should be cause for good news in most countries facing an uncertain future, but nothing is ever simple or even logical in the South Caucasus. Ethno-nationalism and distorted, usually subjective, versions of history are common and politically expedient forces will exploit any issue in order […]

July 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Mayors: Who is the Mayor of London?

If I am not mistaken, then I think that the Mayor of London is ought to be Boris Johnson nowadays. Without checking any online news or information sources, looking up any official websites – I can recall that it should be Boris Johnson. I clearly remember when he was elected – people were talking  whether […]

July 19, 2009

Video petition for detained Azeri youth activists, bloggers (updated)

     In a little under 9 hours at time of writing, an appeal to consider the case of Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli, two youth activists and video bloggers in Baku, Azerbaijan, will be heard. Sentenced to two month’s pre-trial detention under what many consider to be fabricated and politically motivated charges, the appeal should […]

July 12, 2009

Deja Vu: Youth activists, bloggers targetted in the South Caucasus

Estranged neighbours they may be, but it’s often been said that of all the countries in the South Caucasus and the surrounding region Armenia and Azerbaijan are the most similar. True, one is mainly moslem and the other not, but most outside observers would be hard pressed to find any other differences in terms of […]

July 11, 2009

Beaten activists sentenced for two months while investigation goes on

On 10 July 2009, a session of Sabail District Court of Baku, chaired by Justice Rauf Ahmedov, has sentenced two civil society activists – Emin Abdullayev (Milli) and Adnan Hajizada to two months of pre-trial investigation detention. Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada are accused of ‘domestic group hooliganism’ according to Article 221.2 of Criminal Code […]

July 9, 2009

Beaten youth activists to stand trial for hooliganism

As I reported in my previous post, two prominent civil society activists and leading figures of youth movement in Azerbaijan – Emin Milli (Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizada have been attacked while dining at a downtown restaurant and got severely beaten. Moreover, when they tried to complain to police, they were detained as suspects in ‘hooliganism’ […]

July 9, 2009

Civil society and youth activists beaten and detained in downtown Baku

Two prominent Azeri civil society and youth activists – Emin Milli, one of the founders of Alumni Network, a grassroots youth movement and Adnan Haji-zadeh, a video-blogger from OL! Youth Movement have been attacked by unidentified persons while dining with a group of fellow activists in a restaurant in downtown Baku. According to witnesses, two suspicious ‘sportsmen’ entered the […]

June 28, 2009

Nagorno Karabakh: Tragedy in the South Caucasus

The last time I visited Nagorno Karabakh was in 2006. Well, the intention had not been to visit Karabakh itself, but rather the strategic town of Lachin situated within what the international community considers sovereign Azerbaijani territory under Armenian control. However, despite years of working on a long-term photographic project in the town, I was […]

June 23, 2009

From Baku to Strasbourg: 40,000-euro-worth idiosyncrasies

According to Azeri Press Agency, Heydar Aliyev Foundation, named after a former KGB strongman and communist party chief turned president, and which operates in and from the Republic of Azerbaijan, a secular Shia state, has donated €40,000 to Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. The foundation is headed by the First Lady of Azerbaijan who […]

June 14, 2009

Back from Karabakh

     After several days fixing for the BBC for a report on Armenia-Turkey relations and the conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway territory of Nagorny Karabakh, a photo commission from The National newspaper saw me return to the same topics no sooner had that work finished.  There’s much to be said about both subjects and […]

June 2, 2009

Waiting five years for a five-minute chance

This recent blog post by an Iranian blogger “cautiously speaking from inside Iran” sounded to me so familiar that I wanted to share it with you: As you might know, private television channels are forbidden by the law in Iran. In general, power-holders are really touchy about any media that could challenge their authority. […] […]

June 1, 2009

Update: Who is who in Iran’s elections?

Well, two days ago, when I wrote a post about upcoming presidential elections in Iran, I should have guessed it – I was stepping into a mine field 🙂 Ethnicity was always a very sensitive issue in Iran, and my speculations about ethnic background of Iranian presidential candidates received some feedback from my Iranian readers […]

May 30, 2009

Election time in Iran

I admit there are two things in Iran that we, Northern Azeris envy – the first is cheap petrol and the second is free an fair elections. No joke! Yesterday, American news magazine Time started one of its articles with this paragraph: The presidential candidate was greeted last Monday at the airport by a jubilant […]