Supporters of several political parties and NGOs marched today (June 25) from the 20 Yanvar (January) metro station, at about 5:00 pm, to the nearby Galaba (victory) Square.
The meeting seemed to be overshadowed by a massive rally last week, staged by the major opposition bloc Azadlyg (freedom), which unites the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA, reformistsвЂ™ wing), Mussavat Party and Azerbaijan Democratic Party.
All political forces try to do their utmost to persuade the voters to exercise their constitutional rights and cast their votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for November.
And all donвЂ™t seem to be cagey, but only insist on the fairness and transparency criteria to be ensured during the elections, and sometimes on the problem of Karabakh, AzerbaijanвЂ™s picturesque region occupied by Armenian forces.
The organizers of todayвЂ™s meeting were not the exception to the rule.
Addressing to the audience, Tahir Karimli, the chairman of the Vahdat (unity) Party, said that the upcoming elections must be held in the democratic manner, human rights be protected, and the Karabakh region be liberated. He also stressed on the necessity of resignation of officials, who failed to fulfill their duties in general and bring prosperity to the oil-rich nation in particular.
But Karimli was at a loss to be heard by many.
According to independent calculations, the organizers of todayвЂ™s action have succeeded in drawing about 2,000 protesters вЂ" a scanty audience compared to last weekвЂ™s crowd of more than 10,000. No corresponding data has been provided by authorities.
However, Tahir Karimli, who has no relation to the unofficial, but flamboyant leader of the Azadlyg bloc, succeeded in forming an open dialogue with those who gathered at the venue to support the political forces, which are in the middle of nowhere, failing to float any fresh idea to consolidate the entire nation.
The participants of the meeting agreed at length with the neglect of duties by officials.
The chairman of the Taraggi (progress) Party, Chingiz Damiroglu also articulated the crucial importance of getting everything arranged for the holding of free elections, as well as modification of the composition of election commissions and the fair counting of the votes, to be cast by voters. вЂњIt is crucial for Azerbaijan to become a democracy,вЂќ he said, urging the people not to allow someone to break their vigil and rig elections again. Since gaining its independence from the former USSR, the people of Azerbaijan have witnessed a string of rigged ballots.
A female representative of the Civil Society Builders bloc, Dunyakhanym Aliyeva urged women to exercise their constitutional rights and cast votes.
For his part, Chingiz Aliyev, a reserve officer, congratulated the audience on the National Army Day вЂ" the holiday is celebrated on June 26 вЂ" and made an emphasis on the necessity to strengthen and modernize the armed forces. His supporters called on the authorities to hold free and fair elections, democratize the general atmosphere in the country, make changes in the composition of election commissions and the provisions of the Election Code, set up proper conditions for the operation of public television, solve all problems linked to the registration of NGOs and political parties, etc.
The deputy chairman of the Islam Party, Rovshan Ahmadli particularly noted the liberation of the occupied lands. Meanwhile, he complained about the violation of human rights, referring to the reluctance of authorities to issue identity card to women wearing hijab (headscarf, which is worn by religious women). вЂњThere hundreds of 100 women whose rights are violated. They cannot obtain identity cards because the authorities refuse to accept the corresponding photos, where those women posed wearing hijab,вЂќ Ahmadli said. According to him, such restrictions donвЂ™t exist even in the countries, where Islam is not treated normally and is often under unsubstantiated attack.
вЂњAzerbaijan must democratize itself from the inside, in order to broker a resolution of the Karabakh problem, as well as become a stronger country, and integrate into European structures,вЂќ said Ahmadli, whose religious beliefs are not welcome in many European countries, which are being plunged into вЂњIslamic xenophobia.вЂќ
Fazil Gazanfaroglu, the chairman of the Great Creation Party, said that the audience [at Galaba Square] is the people who came here on their own, of their own free will, referring to allegation that massive rallies in last weeks were the result of the expenditure of round sums allocated by foreign forces. вЂњThe people of Azerbaijan, not foreign forces, will decide the future of our country,вЂќ Gazanfaroglu said. He expressed his doubts concerning the authoritiesвЂ™ another attempt to steal votes from the voters. вЂњBecause international organizations are more experienced in this,вЂќ he stressed.
The chairman of the National Democratic Party, Isgandar Hamidov, made the focus on exerting all efforts to curb rampant corruption, as well as end the reign of monopolistic clans and liberate the occupied forces.
Hamidov, a native of Kalbajar, a mountainous district now under Armenian occupation, served as the interior minister during the short tenure of the administration of Abulfaz Elchibay, the late Azeri President, who was internationally recognized as the founder and promoter of democratic values in Azerbaijan.
HamidovвЂ™s words were echoed by the audience, as people are angry with the authoritiesвЂ™ failure to stop rising prices вЂ" a clear indication to the control of the domestic market by monopolies.
Hamidov also said that despite a string of amnesty and pardon decrees, there are still prisoners who fought against Armenians to defend the sovereignty of Azerbaijan in Karabakh. вЂњSome of them are national heroes, but the authorities turn blind eye to their present state,вЂќ Hamidov said. вЂњThe authorities, who are unable to hold democratic elections and ensure non-violation of human rights, are also unable to liberate the occupied territories.вЂќ
The meeting ended with no incident, but its resolution sit to sit under the glory of the national anthem of Azerbaijan, accompanied by the corresponding music, as well as the Keroglu overture, which is the most perfect classic work by the great Azeri composer Uzeyir Hajibayov, and waving national three-color flags, meaning the Turkism, modernity, and Islam.