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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (1 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

when you hop in a taxi from the airport and drive along the massive high way towards the “windy City” Baku you see building upon building half way done. Standing as skeletons side by side as grim monuments of the wealth and prosperity the country is undergoing.

The country’s president Ilham Aliyev and the government aims to convince the world that they are an emerging democracy with respect for its population and human rights. It has spent millions on hiring companies for PR and engaging former European top politicians to speak on their behalf.

But the facts show Azerbaijan as a nation with severe issues like massive corruption, poverty and a disregard for human rights. Examples are; multiple arrests, often violently, during peaceful protests. Forced evictions of families from their homes. Harassing and imprisoning independent journalists. A basic disregard for free speech.
In creating a toxic environment of paranoia and fear the leaders of Azerbaijan are violating civil rights.
The capitol is an awesome show city with massive boulevards and elaborate buildings and immense beauty.
Though if you try and go to the outskirts of the city you stumble upon another landscape and poverty becomes an integrated part of the scenery. The wealth of the nation does not trickle down from top to bottom.
If you lead a quiet life and do your job raise a family and do not ask question you are well of and most people do. But the country’s leaders do not tolerate too critical look at themselves from anyone. The fact is that the people of Azerbaijan do not have the liberty to live a free life.
The Land of Fire, which is Azerbaijan’s nickname borders on Iran, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea. It has an enormous diverse nature ranging from desert to mountain chains and underneath it all oil and natural gas are found in large quantities.
Azerbaijan was a part of the former Soviet Union but gained independence in 1991. A formal constitution was signed and put into effect on November 12, 1995

The capitol of Baku is scattered with buildings like this all over the city. The big boom in the economy has made it all possible.
But many of these elaborate financial gestures are not inhabited. According to Max Tucker Amnesty International’s Azerbaijan spokesman it is partly because people cannot afford to live there and partly because the large building sites in some cases are used to extract money from the government to private companies often owned by a secretary from the government. One of the examples of ways corruption is a central part of the way business is done here.

If the government needs space for new construction, as it was the case with the Eurovision venue, Crystal Hall, it is not uncommon that people are forced to sell their houses at very low prices. The houses are then demolished. If people speak out or refuse to sell, they are harassed or the house is demolished with their things still in it. In some cases violence is used to get people out of the way.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (9 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

According to the oil workers in the photograph the regular oil worker here earns 450 dollars a month. They have to take care of food and gloves out of their own pocket.

They work 12 hours a day. 8 am till 8 pm with one-hour lunch break.
They used to have unlimited contracts but now they are on 6 months contracts. In reality they can fire them when they want.
The vast oil and gas reserves produce a large income but according to Max Tucker, Amnesty International expert on Azerbaijan the surplus from this industry mostly does not benefit the general public.

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Azerbaijan: An Illusion (10 of 12)
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
21 May 2012

Transparency International (transparency.org) currently rates Azerbaijan number 143 out of 183 on the corruption chart with a score at 2.4 out of possible 10.
Azerbaijan is believed to have corruption on the highest levels of government.
A lot of commerce and business in the country is monopolized and so it is hard for regular people to break into business and make their fortune. To do so you would most likely have to pay the people that control the business a bribe to get a foothold, which for many people is out of the question.
It seems impossible to work your way up from nothing.
If this is not possible you can work for the government then you have a good chance to make a decent living. But if you are affiliated with any of the opposition parties it is almost impossible to find employment.

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Protest In Azerbaijan During Eurovisi...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By U.S. Editor
20 May 2012

The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Azerbaijan. Often called the land of fire, it put on a massive and spectacular show, however the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The country’s opposition used the opportunity to draw attention to the state's undemocratic practices, despite the government’s attempts to present itself otherwise.

Peaceful protesters were arrested for participating in a rally on the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbor front. Secret police walk among protesters and singled out those chanting slogans. Many were taken away in police cars or piled into buses and taken to a police station.

The protest was organized by critics of the current regime, and was held to capture the attention of foreign media.
 According to Amnesty International, protesters are often arrested, registered and jailed indefinitely. Organizing a protest is punishable by imprisonment, and the regime often charges citizens with hooliganism, or forcibly drafts them into the military if they suspected of activism. There are also reports of alleged torture of incarcerated people, and targeting of independent journalists.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

During the Eurovision Song contest there were protests, most of them organized by the opposition. One man was arrested by undercover agents/police during a protest in front of the national TV station.
The agents would go through the crowd and arrest anybody who was not press or police. This man turned up with a few others and started to give a speech, within seconds he was detained and taken away. One other protester that was arrested had heard the man saying that he was a member of the government party.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

Two women are arrested during a protest in front of the national Azeri TV station for shouting slogans. The protest took place during the Eurovision song contest. Civilian agents and policemen arrested everyone present who was not press or security, including bystanders not involved in the protest.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

Thumb sm
Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

Thumb sm
Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

During the Eurovision Song contest there were protests, most of them organized by the opposition. This woman was arrested by undercover agents/police during a protest in front of the national TV station.
The agents would go through the crowd and arrest anybody who was not press or police. This woman walked by the protest, and started shouting, very quickly her and the woman she was with were put in a police car and driven away.

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Azerbaijan demonstrations during Euro...
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Andreas bro
20 May 2012

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was held in Azerbaijan. The land of fire, as it is called, put on a massive and spectacular show but the festivities were tainted by the country's poor human rights record and its harsh crack down on peaceful protests. The country’s own opposition tried to draw attention to the fact that the country is not a fair democracy even though the government tries to present such an image.
A protester is getting taken away at a peaceful rally at the lavish boulevard along Baku’s harbour front. The secret police would walk around the protesters and single them out. The minute they started shouting slogans they would be shut-up, dragged off into a police car that would speed off, or they would be put in a bus and taken to a police station. Often this would be done very quickly and violently.
The protest was held by critics of the current regime and was partly held to make the foreign media aware of the problems in the country.
According to Amnesty International it is not a rare sight to see protesters getting arrested, registered and then left somewhere. If you are a part of arranging the protest you could look at jail time. Normally the regime charges people with hooliganism if they need someone to disappear for a few years. That or send them to do military service.
Unfortunately there are reports of alleged torture of people that are incarcerated.
Independent journalists work under tough conditions with no protection from the government and are subject to targeting.