Category Archives: Human Rights

Safarov’s Extradition and Heroization

In 2004 in Budapest an Azerbaijani officer, Ramil Safarov, murdered an Armenian lieutenant, Gurgen Margaryan, with an axe, while the latter was sleeping. Same year Safarov was imprisoned in Hungary and given a life sentence. Learn more

8 years later, 2 days ago, according to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons the murderer was extradited from Hungary to Azerbaijan, where he was immediately pardoned by the President and recognized as a hero.

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Azerbaijani side does not deny the fact of the slaughter, nor its circumstances, namely that Safarov hacked a SLEEPING person and during PEACEFUL times. Yes, Azerbaijani authorities do not deny it, and are not ashamed to name Safarov a hero exactly because he is a murderer and exactly because he murdered an Armenian. I think I know what’s your problem, Mr. Aliyev. You simply cut any possibility for the bright personalities to flourish under your “I am the State” regime and massive nation-wide violation of human rights. This is why all you have to be proud of is a miserable murderer. You know, I tried to hate you, but all I ended up with is feeling sorry for you and those of your compatriots who support your dumb decision. But let that be your problem. The last thing I want to tell you is that, I know bright personalities in Azerbaijan, who I’ve never felt sorry for so far. And I do believe they will keep on fighting against the sick ideals you feed your society with.

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Hundreds of Armenians were protesting the extradition in front of the Hungarian consulate in Yerevan. What Hungarian Ministry of so-called Justice did is definitely to be protested. The case is not only about Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is obviously also about Hungarian government which unfortunately turned to be so pure and naive to believe “assurances from the Baku government that his [Safarov’s] sentence would be enforced in Baku”. However burning Hungarian flag during the demonstration in Yerevan was as disgusting as the Hungarian decision of extradition. We have to understand that the symbols as the national flag are tightly connected with people’s feelings and identity. Nobody is given a right to hurt it. Thousands of Hungarians do not have anything to do with this case and no way deserved watching their flag burning. This is unacceptable. I want to thank my Hungarian friends who condemned extradition and told me that felt ashamed for their government. And I want to apologize for the flag incident.

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Article 12 on the Pardon, Amnesty and Commutation of the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons clearly says: Each Party may grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other laws.

Dear lawyers, could you explain me please what is the point of the document if in the end it does not provision any responsibility for the cease of imprisonment of the sentenced person? (Sigh) why am I asking lawyers though? Did not I know that International Law is least of all about law, and mostly about world politics. As for the world politics, by the way, and major powers – they do not seem to be prompt in the evaluation of this outrageous case – I guess they are just fluctuating between the price of human rights and priceless Azerbaijani oil.

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Filed under Armenia, Caucasus, Human Rights, Political, Society

You&Me for Egypt

On February 3, 2011 a group of international students (mainly from CEU) joined the demonstration in front of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Budapest, Hungary (the video is below). They signed the «Declaration on Freedom of Expression in Egypt» addressed to the Embassador of Egypt in Hungary. The idea was not to show any political position, but simply to support the freedom of assembly and speech of protestants in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

I asked Blagi, one of the organizers of the “You&Me for Egypt” initiative, to tell how the idea to make the event true came to their minds. She said that one of their lovely classmates left for home, Egypt, right after the protests in Cairo started. So, “when the Egyptian people were cut off from the rest of the world when the regime blocked their means of communication and when the violence started to escalate on the streets of Cairo, knowing that our best friends are there we decided that we needed to act”, says Blagi. During our talk, Blagi several times mentioned that there were a lot of people standing behind this initiative and putting their efforts to make their Egyptian friend feel their support and love.
So it was not the initiative of the department or the university – not at all. It was an initiative of young people desiring to show their concern about the violation of Egyptians’ fundamental right to assembly and protest.
It was also a message for their lovely Egyptian friend, who left for home, strongly realizing her role in the fate of her country and people.
She just returned to Budapest, and we all are happy to see her safe and as joyful as she has always been.

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Human Rights (where the liberty starts)

VERZIO International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival has just finished in Budapest. It was organized by Open Society Archivum (OSA), together with the Open Society Institute (OSI), Russian State Film and Photo Archive and some other local institutions/partners. A one-week event aims at screening wide variety of films about ordinary people’s rights across the world and, particularly, in such countries as Afghanistan, Congo, Kenya, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China and many others.
Volunteering during the festival in October 2010, I was lucky to watch some films two of which I was most of all impressed by.
The first documentary is called Nairobi Love Story, directed by Maria Weber. It is about two young lovers from Kenya, Eric and Margareth. Belonging to the different tribes (Kikuyo and Luo) they are strictly condemned by the society and, in particular, their own families for their relationship. Kenyans from Kikuyo and Luo cannot marry each other because of the continuous conflicts between the two tribes which at the same time represent different ethnic groups. However, in spite of all the blames and difficulties a couple has to overcome, they purely love each other and dream of their future family. At the same time, managing together a household, at some point they also face a problem of division of their domestic duties. So, another problem raised in the film is gender roles in the family. Eric, quite typically for a man, believes that laundering and cooking, as well as supposedly, other household works, are not man’s duties. Therefore, doing chores, he only helps Margareth. Meanwhile, since he does it voluntarily, he correspondingly expects to be appreciated for that. But Margareth perceives this kind of “help” as something natural: if they both have jobs, both need some food, drink, clean clothes and house, then both have to be equally responsible for handling all that.
The second documentary, Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking, is about “Afghan Star” music talent TV show in Afghanistan. Afghan people, who have been suffering of the severe wars and Taliban rules for decades, were not allowed to sing. Moreover they did not even have a chance to watch TV or listen to radio. With the end of Taliban rule Afghanis got an access to some of the broadcasting media, along with the simple rights to sing, dance and laugh. So, they perceived freedom as a possibility to sing and express their feelings in the combination of notes and words.
The “Afghan Star” became the most popular TV show in Afghanistan not only for the participants, but also hundred thousands of people across the whole country watching them. Afghanis enthusiastically voted for their beloved singers and sincerely believed that their voice would influence the results of voting. This was not, though, the only crucial point of the film. The young lady, who at some point received the least votes, stayed behind other competitors and had to leave the project (as it happens in “Super Star” and other similar programmes). According to the tradition of the project, before leaving the stage, she had to make a final performance in front of the audience. She was supposed to sing, but never to dance. And several simple dance elements she dared to make while singing were considered as a deadly sin. When she was asked of the reason of her impudent behavior, she guiltily said that had followed the feelings she had been full of at that moment.
For some of us it might be hard to believe that in the 21st century human happiness depends on the possibility to love or sing. And what is even harder to believe in is that in the closed societies there are very few people who dare to defend their universal right to be happy.
Both films revealed an absolutely simple truth to me: our liberty starts from easy words, sounds and feelings. We never realize it though. Otherwise, our everyday life would have a different value.

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Filed under Human Rights, People, Political, Society