Fighting mirrors

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You see yourself, just the way you are. Your life, parts of it you are ashamed or proud of, your choices.

You see people you love, admire, respect or hate - those who define you.


Several months ago Emin and Rashad called me to say they’re having fun at the anniversary party of Dalga (Wave) youth movement and invited me to join. I was bored and decided to go but didn’t expect much from this party.

I was so wrong. The moment I entered the place I was shocked. I couldn’t understand if I was still in Azerbaijan or not, if these people are real or I’m just dreaming.

It was a rock party. A real one. And people... Youth wearing colorful and to-be-discussed-by-neighbors clothes, drinking, having fun, dancing, singing together with the band (that’s when I heard OZAN for the first time). Dalga, OL! everyone was there.

I was standing at the balcony watching them and feeling the spirit of real freedom and unity for the first time in my life in Azerbaijan and felt like falling in love with the whole crowd.

Later that evening when we were about to leave, some guys including a girl with crazy hairdo named Vafa were discussing the afterparty. “Let’s go to my place and gather at my kitchen, as we always do”, she said. And then she turned to me, looked up (as I am significantly taller than her… and 80% of Azerbaijanis), thought for several seconds and said: “You can come to my kitchen too, if you want”.

This is how our friendship began.

Several months ago a young activist, member of Dalga Parviz Azimov wrote an article about Lankaran State University he studied at. He told about the corruption, the condition of the building, dishonest teachers and deans. Later, he has been expelled. He did sue the university and is expecting a court decision at the moment.

On May 10, 2009 76 people got arrested and kept in the police stations for hours. Although no charges were pressed, we were asked to write an explanation for our behavior.

"Welcome to Azerbaijan – the land of no rights, only duties", I thought leaving the 22nd Police Station.

Tomorrow, we’re presenting our new project - the Youth Rights Protection Movement, which will provide the support for people like Parviz, Adnan, Emin and hundreds of others who either have no idea about rights they're supposed to have or need help defending them.


What do I see when I look in the mirror?

I see a person I am about to become.

I see people leaving me, forced by fear of unknown and those who stay and hold my hand no matter what.

I see a short girl with crazy hairdo, two guys - one in suede jacket and glasses, one with a backpack and camera in his hands.

I see brave, colorful and free youth, a crowd I am proud to be standing with – the definition of a person I've always wanted to become.