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(en) France, UCL AL #316 = International, Mirzali Mahammad (Azerbaijani dissident): "for me, the real enemy is Russian imperialism" (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 31 May 2021 10:25:55 +0300

Mirzali Mahammad is an Azerbaijani dissident, refugee in France since 2016. Active on social networks and via Youtube, he was the target of an assassination attempt at the end of March in Nantes, probably sponsored by the business-clan regime of Baku. Opposing the Azero-Armenian war of autumn 2020, he gives his point of view to Alternative Libertaire on the current situation in his country. ---- Libertarian alternative : The dictator Ilham Aliyev appears as the " hero " who avenged the defeat of 1994. His regime seems more solid than ever. Yet now that the "Armenian enemy" has been defeated, he has lost the main leitmotif for uniting around him. There is also talk of a decline in oil revenues that could create difficulties for it. Do you think that democratic contestation can rise in Azerbaijan in the future ?

Mirzali Mahammad: The point is, the war did not end on such acceptable terms. Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers died, but in the end it was the Russians who militarily occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, under the pretext of "peacekeeping", which greatly disappointed the population. When the drunkenness of victory subsided, it appeared that the president had only replaced one enemy with another, stronger: Moscow.

Moreover, the government's neglect of the dead and injured has rekindled criticism. The guns fell silent, but the country returned to the previous humanitarian crisis, due to the coronavirus and the economic situation. Those who hoped Aliyev would change were showered: still indifferent to these issues, he continued to suppress the opposition.

We can observe a massive protest on social networks. However, it is impossible to say when the Azerbaijanis will take to the streets. And it would be unfair to blame them. The Baku regime is one of the most ruthless in the world. One of his methods to silence opponents is sextape blackmail.

They targeted me like this, threatening to release an intimate video of my sister, which a guy they hired set up. I refused to comply, and they broadcast the video... Ilham Aliyev and his henchmen know no limits, I have experienced it. You have to be a fool, or a berserk, or both, to try to assassinate, in broad daylight, a dissident who has taken refuge in Europe !

Horrors come to my ears about what is happening in my country. Acts of torture, murders as we see in the cinema. They are looking to buy politicians in Europe to distract from it all.

Now that Baku has reconquered the districts occupied since 1994 by Armenia, do you think a peace process is possible? Or are we entering a new era of "armed peace" for twenty years?

Mirzali Mahammad: The recent inauguration in Baku of a "Trophy Park" exhibiting among other things rows of helmets taken from Armenian corpses, shows that the war is not over. The regime maintains hatred. I urge the Azerbaijanis to boycott this park, not to embrace this hatred. The war is not over.

We cannot say whether we are entering a new phase, or whether the previous one continues. Russia will not leave Nagorno-Karabakh. The only power that could possibly force him to do so is Turkey, but we know what Armenia thinks of Turkey, so it's complex. There will be no peace between our two countries as long as the Kremlin continues, in the Caucasus, the imperialist policy begun two hundred years ago, and perpetuated by Putin. Moscow still wants to rule, invade, control territories. After Georgia, Ukraine, now Nagorno-Karabakh. It is to divide in order to reign better.

The last war would not have broken out if Moscow had not allowed it. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian did not want to bend the knee, and he paid for it. In Armenia, all the rulers before him were pro-Russian. The 'velvet revolution' of 2018 was a big thing! Won without shooting a bullet. I was happy for Armenia and hoped for a domino effect in Azerbaijan. I think the Aliyev regime was very afraid of it.

He was looking for an opportunity to strengthen himself; this one came in October 2020, and it was war. Despite what is being said in Armenia, I think Pachinian is still trying to escape Russian tutelage and turn to the West. Aliyev is quite the opposite. Moscow is leading him by the nose.

During the war, Azerbaijani pacifists protested publicly. Have they suffered repression?

Mirzali Mahammad: As far as I know, they have been pressured by the government. Some were arrested and questioned by the police, but eventually released for fear of internal and external reactions. The war had focused attention on Azerbaijan, which therefore chose to be cautious.

This regime, in power for nearly thirty years, has always brandished the threat of "the Armenian enemy" to evacuate any dispute. And unfortunately it continues to work. It is the glue of that power. If the Azerbaijani people want to get rid of this regime, they will have to turn their anger against those who deserve it. But it is not easy after thirty years of brainwashing, perhaps more.

For example, after the war, my friend and pacifist comrade Kamran Ismayilov, with whom I produce the Made in Azerbaijan Youtube channel, published a video in Russian, to disseminate our point of view. The video has gone viral. In Armenia, she was applauded. But in Azerbaijan it was called treason. Thanks to his hate propaganda, Aliyev does not have too much to fear the pacifists ...

What political solution for Nagorno-Karabakh ?

Mirzali Mahammad: Almost everyone in Azerbaijan wants a solution to this conflict without spilling blood again. For some pacifists, it doesn't matter whether Nagorno-Karabakh is under Armenian or Azerbaijani sovereignty. For others, on the contrary, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be guaranteed by international law.

But how could diplomacy achieve this, with dictators like Aliyev's? We cannot just wait for a new war to break out, destroying the lives of young people born after the conflict, but who will bear the burden.

The Armenian people have never been our enemy. For me, the real enemy is Russian imperialism which maintains tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians and Azerbaijanis need to understand this, and the sooner the better.

Interview on April 15, 2021 by Guillaume Davranche (UCL Montreuil)

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