Fatalin's Posts in Media

FPA Blogs: Peace Activist Threatened in Armenia, Azerbaijani Film Festival Cancelled

When I first met Georgi Vanyan back in 2009, I couldn’t hide my excitement. For me that middle-aged man who smoked one cigarette after another and had sadness in his eyes, even when he smiled, was equal to a rockstar. I couldn’t believe I was talking to the person who organized Days of Azerbaijan as well as Turkish Film Festival in Armenia, despite regular threats he received and a very little support he had among the Armenian public. He was also the only Armenian I knew, who publicly called Nagorno-Karabakh region an “occupied” territory, not “liberated.”

Our meeting was completely random, we just happened to have common friends in Georgian capital Tbilisi. Nevertheless, we talked for three hours straight, sharing our insights on Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict and possible scenarios for its resolution. He told me about his future project – Azerbaijani Film Festival in Armenia. I said he was out of his mind, but he explained it was “a logical continuation of the previous events,” and that it was worth a try.

So he’s been trying ever since.

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FPA Blogs: Baku Protests Foreign Policy’s Assertion of Airbase Access for Israel

It’s just so hard to launch an international bash these days. Everyone’s a critic. Just ask Azerbaijan.

Preparations for Eurovision, one of Europe’s biggest song contests to be held in May in Baku, are regularly sidetracked either by criticism of the country dismal human rights record, or allegations of the country’s silent involvement in Iran-Israeli nuclear crisis, though the government continues to deny any role.

Last week, Foreign Policy published an article by foreign affairs analyst Mark Perry that suggested Azerbaijan has expanded its military cooperation with Israel. The article quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying that Azerbaijan has granted Israel access to its airbases, or, as one of the author’s high-ranked sources phrased it: “The Israelis have bought an airfield, [...] called Azerbaijan.”

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Aserbaidschan startet Kampagne gegen Frankfurt

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German Berliner Zeitung has put together a piece about the anti-German video report broadcasted on Azerbaijani AZTV channel on March 5, and linked my blog post on this topic. Here is the article:

Vor dem Eurovision Song Contest prangerten deutsche Politiker Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Baku an. Nun wehrt sich Aserbaidschan mit einer Schmutzkampagne gegen Deutschland. Besonders Frankfurt kommt schlecht weg.

Arbeitslose hausen in Zelten im Schatten der Bankentürme, Frauen müssen in Sex-Shops arbeiten, die nichts weiter sind als getarnte Bordelle, und die Zahl der Drogenabhängigen, die durch die Straßen wanken, steigt stetig.

So berichtete das aserbaidschanische Staatsfernsehens AZTV kürzlich in einer Reportage aus Frankfurt am Main, unterlegt mit Bildern vom Occupy-Protestcamp vor der Europäischen Zentral Bank und einer Kamerafahrt durch das Bahnhofsviertel der Mainmetropole.

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FPA Blogs: Peaceful Activists Arrested, Amnesty International Reports The Torture Fear

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My first post for Foreign Policy Association Blogs as a regular blogger:

The sanctioned peaceful protest that took place in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on Saturday, Mar. 17 resulted in arrest of three activists. Members of Bulistan band Jamal Ali, 24, and Natig Kamilov, 24, and another activist Etibar Salmanli, 25, were arrested after a fight that broke during Ali’s performance. The singer has used strong language in his song, displeasing some protesters. During the fight he has also insulted President Ilham Aliyev’s late mother. Young men were sentenced to five to 10 days of detention on charges of “petty hooliganism” and are allegedly subject to tortures under custody.

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"5 years ago I was a minority opposition, today - I am the people."

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He was the first person I called when I saw news from Egypt. "I can't talk, dear, I'm pretty teargased right now", he said.

I met him in Berlin. It was a blogger conference with participants coming from all around the world. For him it wasn't the first official international event he was invited to because of his activity. Very soon, we found a lot in common - he would tell me about his society, I would tell him about mine. When the uprise in Egypt began, I couldn't think of a better person to interview about it.

My interview with him for RFE/RL:

"Sandmonkey" is one of a number of bloggers and activists in Egypt getting the message out of the country through Twitter (he is sending his tweets via a friend in Jordan). RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service correspondent Nigar Fatali spoke with him about Internet activism in Egypt and its role in the country's uprising.

RFE/RL: What does it feel like to live in a country where Internet and mobile phone connections can be shut down by the government at any time?

Sandmonkey: It is not fun [laughing]. It clearly affects you. People are being transported back to 1980; they have to go back from technological progress to using landlines. And most of them don't even know the landline numbers of their friends to call and check on them. Having no access to the Internet and a curfew are driving people insane. For activists it means the inability to upload pictures and videos of the horrors that are taking place here, while for many other people it basically means the inability to do their job. No one goes to work because there's no Internet. The banks don't work because of that; the country in general is in paralysis. The fact that the government can shut down the Internet and phone connection anytime they want is simply unnerving.  

RFE/RL: Why do you blog under a nickname? Do you plan to reveal yourself?

Sandmonkey:I've always kept my identity anonymous and I'm not planning to reveal it because some members of my family are affiliated with the ruling NDP party and I don't want to put them at risk. 

RFE/RL: What is it like to be an activist in Egypt? Do you get oppressed or threatened?

Sandmonkey:These days it actually feels strange; scarier and more exciting. One day you're breaking barricades, the next day you get tear gassed, and the day after that you try to escape the gunshots of street thugs. But it's very rewarding because we see ourselves and our people being validated. We're proud of them for taking responsibility for their destiny and saying "No" for the first time in their lives. Everything about being an Egyptian got redefined in the last days. Before, many people would not agree with us. No one would believe that we could take action or do anything together, as a nation. Today, everybody is with us. Now people believe it's possible. Five years ago I was a minority opposition. Today, I am the people. And this feeling is indescribable.

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