The same week that Azerbaijan held its ersatz presidential election, a youth-led, non-violent protest movement was emerging in neighboring Armenia to bring down a prime minister that embodied Armenia’s entrenched political elite.
It is unlikely that Azerbaijan can hold back the tide that brought tens of thousands into the streets in Armenia in 2018 and to join Georgia’s Rose Revolution in 2003, The Hill says in an article, suggesting that Azerbaijan’s centennial celebrations seek to mask the repressive reality in the country.
On Monday, the Republic of Azerbaijan celebrated 100 years of independence from the Russian Empire that collapsed following the Russian Revolution of 1917.
For years, the country’s criminal justice system has punished opposition leaders, youth activists, and independent journalists with trumped-up charges of drug use, tax evasion, and “hooliganism," the article says.
President Ilham Aliyev directs retribution against his opponents from behind the scenes and subsequently basks in fawning media coverage of his occasional pardons of some political prisoners, it adds.
The feature, authored by Rep. Cris Smith, suggests that by failing to respect the basic rights and dignity of its people, Azerbaijan becomes a long-term security liability.
"As Azerbaijan marks 100 years of independence, the U.S. must urge the government to rediscover the state’s original democratic roots and reestablish it for a new century, rooted in respect for human rights and liberty," Smith says.
"Whether or not the government seizes this opportunity, the United States ought to stand in solidarity with the people of Azerbaijan, whose desires for dignity and justice will not be indefinitely denied."