After his visit to Karabakh Eldar Zeynalov
is being threatened and accused of national
A human rights activist from Azerbaijan who visited
Nagorno Karabakh last week returned to Baku to
find that his office had been vandalized.
Eldar Zeynalov, director of the Human Rights
Center of Azerbaijan, said several dozen protestors
threw eggs and rubbish at his office and broke
windows. The Azeri press and Zeynalov himself
are blaming political action groups "National
Front-3" and "Karabakh Liberation Organization"
for the attack.
Zeynalov and his wife were in Stepanakert as
part of a Caucasus human rights forum.
While Zeynalov was in Karabakh a television station
in Baku aired Azeri attorneys' angry criticism
of Zeynalov. The television report broadcast Zeynalov's
telephone number and, he told ArmeniaNow "encouraged
people to do everything not to let me walk the
Protesters burnt Zeynalov's and Ghukasyan's photos
attached to wooden crosses in front of his office.
"On April 25 it was announced on Baku Lider-TV
that I am Armenian and it was offered to detain
me," says Zeynalov, who informed diplomatic
corps in Baku of the threats against him. "They
were inducing to blow me and my office up and
demanding to bring me to responsibility in reference
to the paragraph of the treason against the fatherland."
Zeynalov says the action against him may be linked
to upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan,
but that his visit to Karabakh was un-related
"I was invited to Khankendi (the Azeri name
for Stepanakert) to read lectures to my colleagues
visiting the city from different countries (Abkhazia,
Chechnya, Northern and Southern Ossetia, Karabakh),"
Protests and accusations of anti-Azerbaijan activity
against Zeynalov lasted for several days upon
his return last weekend. Zeynalov says he reported
the incidences to police, but was told that his
adversaries had objective grounds for their behavior.
In response to the protests, the Coordinating
Board of Caucasian Forum sent a letter to the
president of Azerbaijan Heidar Aliev. The letter
states that its seminar discussed development
of civil society but not the political status
of the countries in conflict.
Avaz Hasanov, the coordinator for Azerbaijan
of the International Working Group
organization dealing with questions of POWs,
hostages and missing persons.
This week another Azerbaijani activist, Avaz
Hasanov, who is a coordinator for Azerbaijan of
the International Working Group organization dealing
with questions of POWs, hostages and missing persons,
visited Yerevan. He had also visited Karabakh.
"I don't think I will be treated like that
as well," says Hasanov. "I represent
an international organization but it's possible
journalists will poison the atmosphere making
reports against me. In any case there is a danger.
It's possible I'll have to offer explanations
to Karabakh Liberation Organization concerning
why I'm so often making trips to Armenia."
Hasanov says the incidents involving Zeynalov
is instigation before presidential elections.
"It's an instrument for making people busy
with something before elections. Eldar Zeynalov
has done numerous things for enjoying respect
among people. So, it's clear that in Azerbaijan
they don't want non governmental organizations,
especially activists, to cooperate with Armenian
activists," he says.
"What happened with Zeynalov is natural
for such countries, where democracy is just an
illusion for entering international institutions.
Today nationalistic forces are more powerful in
Azerbaijan and that is the reason for what has
Chairman of the Helsinki Association of Armenia,
Mikayel Danielyan says Zeynalov, while a-political,
holds strong views about Karabakh.
"When Eldar stated that civil society is
being developed in Karabakh, he didn't mean that
Karabakh is not a part of Azerbaijan. Like all
Azeris Eldar considers Karabakh as an inseparable
part of Azerbaijan."