Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
“Come to Azerbaijan and have some fun!”, should be a new touristic slogan.
As I already said, right after the verdict for Emin and Adnan was announced and the whole international community reacted critically, the Azerbaijan Honor Defenders emerged with countless “analytical” articles and interviews.
The squad of Defenders doesn’t only consist of careerists, nationalistic masturbators and pseudo-patriots, it also includes BIG GUYS. Those who write two-three articles a day but when someone asks you “What does it say”, you think for a minute, trying to remember anything significant and respond “Nothing, actually…”. And even though E&A supporters get furious and comment on these statements, when you dig deeper you can clearly see a dusted Soviet-style strategy our BIG GUYS usually use.
And the more they talk, the more ridiculous it looks, the more people understand it. And react.
So, in section this strategy and the reaction I can witness looks like this:
Strategy 1 – Use Human Resources
A call for public figures to comment on the case.
Expected outcome: “If this guy said so, it’s definitely truth!”
Actual feedback: Did you ever notice WHO you use? Do you actually think people still believe them?
Strategy 2 – Set a Doubt
“They are not bloggers”
Expected outcome: “Oh my God, everything is a lie!”
Actual feedback: “So if they are tailors? What does it change?”
Strategy 3 – The Nationalistic note
Divided to 4 sub-categories:
1. “US want Azerbaijan to collapse”
Expected outcome: “Really, they talk about democracy, but look how immoral they are! Now they want to interfere in internal issues of our country! What a shame!”
Actual feedback: Too late. Now it looks cheap.
2. “It is an internal matter of Azerbaijan!”
Expected outcome: “This is unacceptable!”
Actual feedback: “A wife beater says the same when police comes over to take him. Lame”
3. “The international community doesn’t support us in Karabakh case, but criticizes us now”
Expected outcome: “They are all pro-Armenian!”
Actual feedback: Well, Emin personally met with 100 officials during his trips to US to talk about Khojaly, also organized a protest demonstration on February 26th in front of the Armenian Embassy in Washington. And also you might want to reconsider the policy of fighting this group of people who make impossible for nothing and favoring grant eaters for no outcome. But sure, you know better.
4. “They get paid!”
Expected outcome: “People are starving while those travel around the world and get grants! Moreover, hell knows who finances them!”
Actual feedback: Seriously? Emin once made a bet that he will travel all around the Europe with no money in his pocket. It seemed crazy even for us, but he did it. He stayed there for a month and traveled around several countries. Doesn’t fit into the programmed mind or International Bank’s budget? Yeah, definitely.
Strategy 4 – Stating the obvious
“It is a simple case of hooliganism”
Expected outcome: It is a simple case of hooliganism.
1. We see fights everyday, all around us. Did anyone non-public go to prison for that?
2. Are all thousands of supporters crazy?
3. Seriously, again?
Strategy 5 – Expose the truth
“Their friends are emotional and rude!”
Expected outcome: Yeah, they’re weird. And the girls there smoke, hang out with boys and breathe without permission.
Actual feedback: Four months of work, expectations, positive and negative emotions, fear, bravery, inspiration, disappointment, tension, self-limitation, patience – and your friends still get unjustly sentenced. Being rude is wrong, but what would you look like?
Strategy 6 – Let’s laugh.
A series of jokes or sarcastic statements on E&A’s activity or their case.
Expected outcome: Ridiculous indeed!
Actual feedback: Good strategy to laugh over something you have no idea about. You joke as if it’s obvious, hence no need to use facts/arguments, no need to actually analyze, because people are too busy laughing/trying to get the sophisticated jokes, to understand the actual meaning. Once again, good strategy for a high school student with low IQ and confidence issues.
Strategy 7 – Not a strategy but a total stupidity
“If the case wouldn’t be so politicized, it would be solved early”
Expected outcome: Have no idea.
Actual feedback: Are you kidding me?
Expected further strategies:
1. They/their friends are/support Armenians – million conclusions; pictures of Emin and Adnan hugging someone Armenian; someone Armenian stating he received State secrets from Adnan; deep analysis of paraphrased quote by Emin, where he calls Azerbaijan to let Karabakh go.
2. They/their friends are/support islamists – confirmed by an unknown Mullah, who, if you dig deeper was also involved in another case of this kind.
3. Their friends are hooligans/drug dealers/spies/criminals – same scenario with fake witnesses, evidences, bad show with pathetic actors. Least likely to happen since it would be a peak of stupidity, but who knows, who knows..
But the best thing about these articles is that NEITHER of these people didn’t come to the hearing of the case they ANALYSE so confidently, didn’t meet with the lawyers or families, didn’t ask ANY questions from the supporting group.
And yes, they sincerely think that someone believes them.
“Come to Azerbaijan and have some fun!”, should be a new touristic slogan.
“There is always something stupid to laugh at”, should say an inscription under it.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Our Vision prevails their fear…
Our Passion prevails their power…
Our Love prevails their hate…
Celebrate our Vision for Freedom!
Passion for Justice!
Love for Humanity!
Emin Milli. November 11, 2009
First message after the sentence.
“Bazaleti lake is very peaceful, quiet and beautiful”, I thought when I first arrived to the location I was supposed to stay for 8 days.
It was going to be fun: three South Caucasus countries, German organizers, simulations, fake news, jokes.
On our third day there I received the news about court decision..
The court was appointed to November 11. The time has changed on the last day from 3pm to 10:30am. This wasn’t a good sign.
The absent witnesses didn’t show up. The prosecutor made his speech, asking for 3,5 years for Emin and 3 years for Adnan.
Then Adnan talked: “Your honor, I’m asking you to take into consideration that Emin is a newlywed, his wife is doing PhD in one of the World’s most famous universities – Columbia University. Also, his parents are pensioners and need his support. “, he said, and then added, “We’ll serve our term somehow and return to normal life in 3 years, but these two IDPs you made beat us up, fake witnesses and policemen you forced to bring here & give false testimonies will have to live with this until the end of their lives.”
“It is an honor for me… It is an honor for me that I am punished for my ideas – my friends, please let everyone know this through sms, e-mails and Facebook”. Emin was short, but this speech made the whole audience stand up, applaude and shout “Azadliq” (Az. Freedom) right in the court room.
After a short break the judge read the decision: they both got sentenced..
A week after the court hearing – everything is back to normal: loads of received and sent e-mails, translations, news, links, statements, videos and the same routine we’ve been living in last four months. But this time everything is doubled – emotions, goals, inspirations, motivations. This time there are no limits, we’re moving towards our goal breaking the walls, clearing the obstacles.
But as this case became one of the dirtiest and at the same time well-known in the contemporary history of Azerbaijan a new group of Azerbaijan Honor Defenders emerged out of the circle of careerists, pro-Governmental puppets and Governmental decision makers. What are they doing? Histerically trying to prove themselves right, by involving “public figures” who write articles and post it on the most popular sources, by making statements, commenting on the case, calling us spies, saying the West pays us, asking why we’re so emotional.
They have no idea that the whole AdnanEmin Campaign is a result of a hard work of a small group of people, and those who helped and supported them. The only money this group received (besides chipping in for the protest actions and etc.) were donations for the families of Emin and Adnan, which were fully received by them. The members of this group refused good jobs, or acted despite the positions they hold. They would work openly or anonimously, sending/receiving information, collecting donations, showing all the possible support.
They say “they know” where we get money for all this, and who would sponsor Emin for all the anti-Azerbaijani acts. They simply can’t imagine that people can work for nothing, besides the idea they share, love and unity. It doesn’t fit in their minds.
But the saddest thing is – even if they do know/imagine/feel – they are not allowed to speak up.
So yes, we’re THAT popular now
In the coming months there will be a series of events dedicated to Emin and Adnan. Check Facebook and other sources to get updates. Wherever you are you will be able to participate.
There is also a new project – a blog of Emin and Adnan, based on the letters guys send from the prison. Each letter is a new post. You can follow it on www.adnanemin.com.
And while the Honor Defenders get lowest ratings on the sources they post their articles at, we get feedbacks and 800 views in three days.
Because they simply can’t IMAGINE.
And we simply don’t CARE.
The court hearing was supposed to start two hours ago when I was running through the whole territory of the complex to spend my lunch time surfing Facebook for the news.
I got into the lobby opened my laptop and clicked the address without even taking my coat off.
Next thing I saw were four words: 2 and 2-and-a-half years.
And then there was nothing…
“Bazaleti lake is awfully quiet” I thought sitting on the shore of it on November 11, 2009.
Another point of no return.
Friday, November 6, 2009
“There are three worlds: the one you want to live in, the one that’s good for you, and the one you actually live in.”
Even though I did refer to women’s stories in some of my posts I have never actually written about gender issues. Maybe because I have never been interested in this topic enough to write.
I have never divided people by gender, race or nationality. I’m more cynical. For me people are either meaningful or meaningless. Regardless if they’re men or women.
My one and only place of work – Foundation A, where I spent two years of my life and changed in so many ways, I will not be able to count – was not only perfect because of the work I got to do and the people I got to meet, but also because of one person there – my boss.
Besides actually teaching me how to do my work he was also a close friend, someone I could tell about my problems, concerns, and fears. After one of such conversations he told me something I keep in my mind ever since: “You have two options in your life: (1) To become your mom; (2) To become yourself”. And I knew exactly what he meant by that.
D. is an absolutely amazing person. Because of her capacity, attitude and natural networking skills, she can make friends with literally anyone. She was a popular kid at the university. She would travel around the USSR and meet people everywhere she would go.
She got married at 26, which is considered pretty late for an Azeri girl even today. Her husband was 12 years older. Right after the wedding she had to quit her job, since the husband wanted her to stay home with the kids. She did not mind – it was the right thing to do.
Two kids and several years later her husband lost his job due to an unstable situation in the country and principles he could not break. He went abroad to earn money. She stayed.
She was 42 when she found her first job after a 15-
When her husband came back after two years of absence and unsuccessful attempts to do something he was not meant to, in order to earn for his family, she had a good job and at least some confidence about the future. Several months later he received a good proposal and everything went back to normal. And of course, he asked her to quit the job again. She did.
Today, her life is mostly about her family, online friends and going out to karaoke or dinners with friends on weekends. And the huge potential she still has is lost somewhere in the labyrinths of everyday routine. Nothing more, nothing less.
She’s happy. Or at least seems so.
She is the one I take my inner freedom from and the reason for my commitment issues.
She’s my mom.
I have never divided people by race, nationality and especially gender. Simply because some examples around me clearly show that both men and women can be equally strong or weak, special or ordinary, meaningful or meaningless.
I am lucky enough to have a non-
But lucky as I am, I woke up before it was too late. I brought myself back together, realized who I am and chose my path, full of new territories, right and wrong decisions, different people and self-
I’m neither woman, nor man here.
And no one can take this away anymore.
There are three worlds: the one you want to live in, the one that’s good for you, and the one you actually live in.
Written for www.women-forum.net
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Along with the excitement of growing old enough to drink, drive a car, stay out late and travel alone, we also receive a whole set of responsibilities.
And no one comforts us, patting on the back, telling us what’s right or wrong anymore.
We start making mistakes. We learn how to lie and pretend. We regret.
And even the best of us leave the straight and narrow once in a while.
This process is non-reversible. The older we are, the more responsibilities we get, the more mistakes we make.
We try to solve them, we deal with the guilt, we hide from ourselves or face the consequences courageously.
But the mistakes we made... they never fade away.
Today I read a very interesting article written by a famous Russian journalist Yuliya Latinina. She talks about two recent incidents giving them as very simple examples of the general situation:
First one happened in Sweden when the local SWAT mistakened the house they were supposed to attack during the training and broke into some guy’s home. The person received apologies and full compensation immediately.
Second story happened in Russia. On January 2007 during the anti-terroristic operation Russian police accidentally broke into the neighbor’s house and shot him in the back. The court pled the guy guilty in attacking the police and proved him a criminal.
Besides the interesting facts and rough analysis of the current political situation in Russia, there also was one line that dragged my attention the most: “It’s not about the mistakes we make, it’s about the way we deal with them.”
No, we don’t live in wealthy, almost non-problematic Sweden, which can afford more than a full compensation to one citizen.
We live in a small “oil-rich country” situated in a problematic region with a full set of difficulties.
But we can afford admitting our mistakes and at least trying to solve the embarrassing issues. We can try to deal with the things we cause.
Everyday we receive news from all around the country – Transport Ministry representatives beat up some truck driver and now he’s facing detention period while his 12-year-old son goes on hunger strike**; a pensioner wrote a letter to the President and was placed to the mental hospital; Azerbaijan population will have problems with domestic gas this year; 4 months have passed since Emin’s and Adnan’s arrest.
We talk about it, blame the system, curse the Government. We write articles, blogposts, facebook statuses. We discuss it over and over again with everyone we meet.
But what does the Government say? How do the people who actually cause these problems react?
Pretend as if nothing happened, as if they don’t carry any responsibility for anything that takes place in the country. They close their eyes thinking they become invisible doing this. They play with people’s lives. They act as if life is only a chess board. They live as if they’re eternal.
They act as if they’re waiting for someone to comfort, pat them on the back and tell them what’s right or wrong.
But there’s no one left to do that. Too much damage is done.
There are only mistakes and responsibilities.
That will never fade away.
**The next morning after this post was written the truck driver was charged 3 years of detention and released on probation.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I know, you’ll say it’s impossible to get to know a person via internet, but read till the end and you’ll understand.
She told me about her life – how she was born in a poor family and actually nailed a right to study in a good private school by winning the competition. Her education wouldn’t allow her think badly of her Government – “Our country is rapidly developing and we have to be proud”, they would say. And she would believe until she faced first signs of free speech violation inside her own school.
No, she’s very grateful for everything they did for her. She understands that they were too scared to lose good jobs and probably were trying to believe in these things themselves.
But she doesn’t. She can see what’s going on around her, but can’t speak up.
Because after graduating the school she decided to apply for Government program which provides scholarships for Azerbaijani students who want to study abroad.
And this is another challenge she had to go through.
On the interview in the Ministry of Education she had to answer questions like: “When was YAP (ruling party) founded?”, “By whom?”, “Who’s the head of it now?”.
“What ruling system is there in Japan?”, she was asked.
“Monarchy”, she answered.
“Why wouldn’t they change it?”, was the next question.
Somehow, she passed.
The University she got accepted to required the payment to be transfered till August 31st. However, the deadline was getting closer but Ministy of Education wouldn't react in any way. Eventually she called there to say that the University warned her that if the tuition is not paid till the deadline - she and other guys from this program will be expelled.
The response of the ministry representative was: "Tell this University not to put demands on the Government of Azerbaijan".
The problem was solved two hours before the deadline and after several requests from the parents.
Right now she’s there, in one of the best European universities, discovering different world, starting a new life, passionately promoting her country she loves so much and… trying to find money to survive and pay for her books, accommodation, food. Why? Because it’s been more than a month since our government was supposed to send her (and other Azerbaijani students in her university) scholarship, but there’s still nothing on her bank account.
How does she survive? Fortunately, some Azerbaijani and Turkish families living there help kids coming from Azerbaijan.
“It’s ok now, I’m already used to living without a cell phone and sharing books with my roommate”, she optimistically said to me.
“What about the accommodation?”, I asked.
“Oh, they were already going to throw me out, but then I won this contest and received some scholarship from the university. It was enough to pay for the dormitory and two books. I’m sharing them with my roommate as well”, was her response. “I have good news too, I’m best in my mathematics class so far!”, she added.
We became friends in a blink of the eye and now she writes me almost every week describing her life there and the way her lessons go, she asks me about my projects and plans, she sends me congratulations on holidays. Her letters are usually long, pretty detailed and very positive regardless the problems she describes there.
And me? Even though sometimes I’m too lazy to read a joke of few lines and am absolutely terrible in solving my correspondence – whenever I see her letter among others I open it first and read it from the beginning till the end.
But what is more important – these letters always make me happy and proud.
I know, you still think it’s impossible to get to know a person via internet, but this is the power of belief that brings absolutely amazing people on my way.
The reason our correspondence started on the first place is because she felt the urge to tell me this story of her life and explain why she didn’t participate openly in AdnanEmin Campaign.
She wrote me to say, she hates herself for getting scared.
The first sentence of my next letter was: “I’m proud of you”. And I actually was.
The subject of our correspondence was “Education&Freedom”.
For me this girl is the hope. She’s a success story which I hope will be contagious for everyone she meets along her way.
Because if she’s a future of this country, then I definitely want to live long enough to witness it.
As for the dishonest authorities which are to blame for the problems of this girl and other Azerbaijani kids studying abroad by this program - they'll have a special place in this future.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Today is a 100 day since Emin and Adnan are in prison.
They say the freedom is priceless.
They also say that freedom has a price to pay.
No contradiction – a very simple truth.
What are we ready to do for the freedom?
Are we ready to give up a good job with a high salary? Break up with someone we really love? Leave the family nest?
Are we ready to go our own way and make our own mistakes?
Milli, two days ago you’ve turned 30.
You have always been the one to spread the freedom all around you with an insane energy; to empower the weak; to stay cool with the strong; to inspire the frightened. You have always been THE change.
I remember the day I first met you almost four years ago when I was different and you were already crazy :)
I also remember the day we met in London last year after a long no-see period. I’ve changed. And you… You just looked at me and said: “I’m proud of you”. I smiled, because that was all I needed to hear to feel happy.
You’ve always taught me to see not a person, but his potential.
That enemy is not scary – it’s just afraid.
That even the most difficult challenges are necessary.
I’ve never listened. And had to learn it my own way by making my own mistakes during these 100 days, while you and Adnan were paying your freedom price with decency worth being proud of.
Two days ago you’ve turned 30.
Your friends and supporters gathered together all around the world to celebrate the day of Global Emotional Warming (that's how we named your birthday), to remember stories about you, to drink for both you and Adnan and even sing ‘Happy birthday’ in Azerbaijani. Your birthday became a flashmob of parties in London, Paris, Strasbourg, Istanbul, Ankara, Budapest, New York, Houston, Moscow, Basel and other cities of the World.
Milli, we need you back.
Yes, we’re even ready to listen to your endless speeches and countless ideas all day long, spend most of the day in a wi-fi café where you schedule all your meetings, argue and dispute over any topic you want any time of the day. Just come back.
We miss you every day.
There’s always a price to pay for freedom – a crossroads of comfort and imaginary happiness with artificial green grass along it.
The road of freedom is frightening, frustrating, usually lonely, but exciting and sincere. Once we step on it – there’s no way back.
And yes, we will imagine our life if we took ‘that’ job every time we check our wallets. And then remember people who paid much more for their freedom.
We will dream of mom’s dolma while eating a sandwich somewhere away from home. Then we’ll call her, go to sleep sadder than usual and wake up brand new next morning.
We will meet our ex-lovers on the streets and regret the decisions we made a while ago, but only for a moment. Then, leave confidently smiling.
Because once we taste the freedom – there’s nothing like it in the whole world. No, it doesn't make us fly and forget the reality - it shows us the exact path we shud take to live the life worth being proud of.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
So, now that you, dear followers, know me better, you will probably understand one of the main reasons I wouldn't update my blog for more than a month.
Yeah, now we have no secrets between each other.
There are two main questions we ask ourlselves when no one is watching: "Am I a good person?" and "Do people like me?". Yes, however confident and independent we are, we still feel a need to find answers to these questions over and over again.
And this is what makes us human.
During the last month my life was pretty much about my friends.
I went to Georgia again, where I met some new, saw some old, lost some pretty important and rediscovered some friends I knew for a while now.
I came back to Baku to send off one friend who was leaving to do Master's degree at the age of 20 and to support two who've been in prison for more than 90 days now.
Right now my life is pretty much about my friends, hence, borders, prisons, pride and disapoinments, unconditional love and the same old unity you read so much in this blog about.
Many years ago a big guy named Soviet Union came to this region to conquer and make us be friends no matter what after dozens of massacres and clashes happened in the beggining of the 20th century between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. For a while we became friends again but didn't quite understand why and what to do with the memories of killed ancestors.
70 years later we decided to find the answers through war and new killings. 20 more years, several years of war and thousands of more victims have passed and we're still in the search, so drowned in guilt of the past mistakes, that being friends again seems like something unbelievably nasty and betraying.
Today, when my inner borders have disappeared, and I can actually enjoy my friendship, I face many others - physical and moral ones, and have to be strong here.
So yeah, since my life is about my friends - the border is one of my problems.
People always get shocked when they see 900 friends on my Facebook, saying this is not normal and I probably don't know most of them. Well, actually I do know most of them, moreover - many of these most are my actual friends.
"No", people say, "One can't have so many friends, it's impossible. You can't know them all well, you'll get disappointed". Well, what can I say? Whenever I actually FEEL like calling someone a friend I do it and I'm not sorry for that. Whenever I get disappointed - I move on. Should a friend that has let me down change my life views? No. In fact, the only time I ever got disappointed was a bit more than a week ago. And the only thing I can say here - it happens.
Disappointment - a new feeling discovered during this month of absence.
October 14th, 2008 will always be one of the most special days for me - the day I rediscovered people I've known for a while, the day I've found my TRIBE.
I was fighting my fall depression when my boss called me to say that he and his wife are on their way downtown to celebrate the birthday of our friend Emin Milli. And even though Milli himself was in NY at that time, people still decided to gather and have fun. I wasn't very excited about it but decided to go as the depression was kicking pretty hardly.
The moment I arrived something clicked. I realized I was talking to people who actually dig me and are at the same page with me. That night I came back home around 4am after several hours of talking and was absolutely happy.
Ever since - my life has changed.
In several days, on October 14h Emin Milli is going to turn 30 and will probably still be in the prison. Did it change our plans? No, he would never let this happen.
Emin's birthday is gonna be celebrated not only in Azerbaijan but all around the world. It's been only one day since we've created an event and we already have groups in UK, US, Turkey, France and even Thailand. :) Yes, whether Emin and Adnan will join us on 14th or not, whether the trial that turned into an endless comedy with bad actors and fake proofs is going to end or not, there will be a celebration for their freedom and Emin's jubilee.
During the last month my life was about my friends. As well as unity and loyalty we have always needed so much.
Am I a good person?
Do people like me?
Now, that we became that close, dear followers, let me teach you another word in Azerbaijani language - "dostluq" (dostloogh), which means friendship.
I've had a wonderful month which was all about "dostluq", realizing how much it means to me and how special my friends are.
I've also realized one main thing: the only people who can answer my two main questions simply with their EXISTENCE are my friends. Whenever I feel proud of them - I feel happy about myself too. Whenever I feel that there's someone standing behind me just to be there - it's the best confidence one can ever dream of.
And when it comes to discipline.. well.. once you have it all you become disciplined just out of grattitude :)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
This was a very long day…
After today’s trial I had a conversation with one of the representatives of “comforted” Azerbaijani youth. I told him about the case and it turned out he already knew about Emin (read a couple of his speeches).
I’ve been told that Emin has no content and is destructive in his criticism. That the things he says are ridiculous and wrong. That he needs to read and study more.
I wouldn’t argue. I only asked: “Should one get imprisoned for being ridiculous or wrong?”. The responce was: “I’m not well informed about the case and to be frank - I don’t really care”
Today I saw my friends sitting in a cage. Their hair were cut short, beards shaved, they lost weight and their eyes are more serious now.
Despite that, they kept the positive attitude, and it seems like, they endure the situation better now. During the break we finally had a chance to exchange couple of words with them, ask about books and other things they need. About how they’ve been doing these two months and how they feel now.
We could notice how happy they were to see their friends and families and how nervous they felt about the process. Yes, they would still hope for the justice to happen, they would still count on the judge to make a right decision.
“You can’t imagine how good it is for studying!” said Emin. “No one disturbs you. You can read and study all day long. I need more books!”. Then he saw one of his closest friends Erkin and joked: “Oh, I wish you were there with us!”.
Adnan called me from the cage, saying: “Do u remember when you brought us food in one of the first days?”, of course I did. It was Adnan’s birthday and we collected money to buy guys something to eat and even bought an apple pie for Adnan. “Sure, why?”. “I saw the paper (which has a list of the things and name of the person who brought them) and it made me cry”, he smiled back at me. My maternal instinct stuck somewhere in my throat and I was not able to respond anything to this.
During the process they would answer all the questions loud and clear, they would ask permission to talk and tell how the story actually happened. They would be confident and clever, as they always are.
The escort and court staff were surprisingly compassionate this time. One of them even brought me a bottle of water even though I didn’t ask. They would do the same for Emin and Adnan too, and I personally want to thank them for this.
One of the ‘victims’ turned out to be a 19-year-old director of the Lebanese restaurant which never appeared in papers before. The other one couldn’t decide whether he’s a welder or a stuccoer and it took him 5 minutes to figure out what IS passport and where he lives.
The representative of the ‘victims’ would call Adnan and Emin 'young politicians", basing on the report filed by guys, where they say that the fight started when they were having a conversation about politics. Moreover, he used it as an objection against the trial to be open because ‘state secrets can be uncovered during the process’. Both Emin and one of the lawyers Isakhan Ashurov tried to explain him the meaning of the word ‘politician’ and that talking about politics doesn’t necessarily mean to be a politician, as well as talking about football doesn’t mean to be a coach.
The defense has requested several motions including involving new witnesses, requesting videos recorded by street cameras in the area, the list of calls made by guys with position location, the suspension of detention, the release on bail and others, but all of them were rejected. In his turn, the prosecutor has requested two years of detention.
When the judge finished reading the decision he made and was about to leave the room, Adnan asked for a word. “Go on”, the judge said. “Your honor, during whole 2 months of our detention we haven’t been able to see or talk to our parents. Can you allow us to talk for five minutes now?”. The judge looked at him, sighed and said: “Sure. You have five minutes”.
We left them there happy to see their families and disappointed about having to go back to the jail. We waited until the escort took them out and sent them off shouting their names and “Azadliq” (aze. Freedom), attracting attention of the whole neighborhood and the cars that were passing by.
We didn’t care about the police around or people watching us. We knew this made Emin and Adnan feel happy and not alone.
So, dear comforted Azerbaijan,
You say it’s a young democracy, but how does it develop, if we had more democracy ten years ago than we have today?
You were lucky to have a chance not to study in local universities, but do you have an idea what’s going on there? Do you know about the level of corruption? Have you ever get the lowest grade for NOT bribing your professor?
Do you know about tax payers and the amount of taxes+bribery (if it’s a business) they have to pay?
Do you know about the problems people have in customs?
Have you ever seen the condition of Baku-Tbilisi train? Internal trains?
You say the country is beautiful and it’s developing, but have you been to the regions (outside the luxury hotels you usually stay at)? Have you seen the conditions people live in? Have you ever TALKED to them?
Do you know that women are not allowed to go to parks in Ismayilli, or that girls can be taken from schools after 10th grade by their fathers in Ujar, or married to some stranger (or a relative) by their parents in the age of 13 in Lenkeran?
Do you know what Emin did, when he learned about a girl married in the age of 10 in Lenkeran? He took 20 young people, got them in a bus and went there to talk to people. Have you ever done that?
Do you know that people in Mijan still remember Emin and the Open Air University he held there several years ago and now young people from there send him letters with blessings, saying how much they are grateful to him? Have you ever get those?
It’s only hundreds of you – those who live in different and fun Azerbaijan and MILLIONS of YOUR people who suffer all around the country.
Do you care about them?
Do you care about two young people facing two years in prison for bringing up all this?
Will you ever wake up from your wealthy dream and finally see true colors of the country we live in or are your cars going to be the only things left after you’re gone?
Both Emin and Adnan can be subjective in their attitude, destructive in their criticism or wrong in their views. But they do have the right to be wrong, subjective or mistaken, as well as you and 7 billion people living on Earth.
Look around. See how many people support these two guys even though they don’t have any power or money. Isn’t this the real power of love, friendship, like-mindedness and unity our fathers would fight for?
Who will care about making you happy when you’re all alone?
Wake up, wake up, wake up.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yes, I wish I could be cloned.
The very first Armenian (except Bakuvians) I met at the very first Conflict Resolution conference I attended was a guy named M. He sat next to me, introduced himself gave his business card. I would stare at it for several seconds, then brought myself to say “Hi” and kept shocked silence till the end of the first session.
What was I thinking about? “Ermeni” (az. Armenian). An aggressor, someone I can’t trust, someone who betrayed my people is sitting next to me. It wasn’t hatred. It was the fear, soaked so deep in my mind I couldn’t bring myself to say a word.
As I went through a difficult but exciting process of analyzing my own personality during the last year, I was able to notice the difference in my attitude on August 4th, when I arrived in Gudauri, Georgia to join Imagine'09 Azerbaijani-Armenian retreat.
Two groups - 7 Azerbaijanis and 7 Armenians, facilitators, one trainer, one hotel.
After 8 days of discussions about general history, significant dates in Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, personal stories, future planning and countless teambuilding activities, including several hours of hiking (which proved the incompatibility of Fatalin and nature), horseriding (and weird way of walking of all the group members the next day) and jakuzi evenings (personal thanks to the inventor) the spirit of CHANGE filled the Marco Polo hotel.
We would talk for hours, get emotional, cry and laugh together, realizing how much we have in common and how beautiful our world could be.
Watching my new (both Azerbaijani and Armenian) friends laughing and drinking together on one of the last days I realized that even last drops of my fear vanished and today the word "ermeni" makes me think of a thoughtfull roommate; a confident beauty; a brave and protective girl; a political junkie; a reliable and supportive friend; a dancing diva; of my 17 year-old brother; of my crazy curly mirror and her bracelet - seven wonderful friends of mine living on the other side of the border
And as my roommate - a talented journalist - mentioned in her speech about us on our last evening together: "You've changed my perception. You are my Azerbaijan."
Yes, 8 days under one roof made us succeed over two main enemies - the load of history on our shoulders and Azerbaijanis and Armenians inside of us.
And it's only a beginning.
I wish I could be cloned. There would be two Fatalins, who'd be able to run all the projects the current one loaded on herself.
One Fatalin could've done Conflict Resolution, another one Culture.
One Fatalin could've met with friends and family members left unattended by her, while another one could've kept on working.
One Fatalin could've left the country and live happily-ever-after in European comfort, only caring about social care and taxes. Another one could've stayed in Azerbaijan and fight for the freedom of speech, democracy, reduction of corruption and etc.
One Fatalin could've fit the society, another gone against it.
One Fatalin could've been a Turk. Another one - a Caucasian.
One Fatalin could've had Armenian friends, another one - drown in hatred towards them.
I wish I could be cloned.
There would be no choices to make, no attitutes to fight, no critics to endure, no balance to keep.
Life would be quiet, measured, regular and so damn boring.
Friday, July 24, 2009
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
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
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
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.
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.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I was about to become an aunt, sitting in front of the hospital watching my brother neuroticly shaking his leg, smoking cigarettes one after another. Two of my friends were waiting there with us to take me and my family home after my nephew's born, although it was 3am.
And yet, I was thinking about Emin's wife not being able to contact him and Adnan who has to spend his 26th birthday in prison.
"Being a dissident is an honor" said one of my Georgian friends, when I told him the whole story. That's pretty much what Emin would say, I thought. And then, imagined what he would do if one of us would get detained.
During last three days we've been trying to attract as much attention as we can using contacts of everyone we know.
We've launched a campaign, created a committee and a movement, sent uncountable amount of e-mails, slept less, worked more. Embassies and international organizations make statements, media sources post articles, unexpected people offer help. A lot expected to happen on Monday.
Web page www.adnanemin.com where everyone will be able to find information about this case, activity and biographies of Adnan and Emin, all the articles, pictures and videos, made during last days, is to be launched shortly. There's also an online petition which you can sign here and groups to join here, here or here (English, Azerbaijani and French versions). We will appreciate any support you can show.
They say "You can imprison my body, but not my soul". Indeed, they can take away Emin and Adnan but the love we have for each other will never fade away, no matter what. The purest, unconditional, can't-buy-for-oil-money love, that makes my friends wait for me to become an aunt and make sure I get home safely, the one that made 50 people sing Azerbaijani anthem in front of the Sabail Court. The kind of love, that encourages people all around the world forget about the fear and fight for the freedom of our friends whatever it takes.
I became an aunt on Adnan's birthday.
United we stand!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Today everything seems different. Weather is annoying, trees are too green, people are meaningless and two close friends of mine are beaten up, detained and pressed charges in something so obviously set up.
Seven hours in front of the police stations, three hours of sleep hugging laptop and anger, screaming inside of me.
They were having dinner in one of the downtown cafes - 7 youth activistivists, talking about life, ideas and plans. Two sporty guys entered the cafe, sat near them, ordered drinks but didn't even touch them.
Some time later they came up to Adnan (OL! Youth Movement) and Emin (AN Network) cursing them. According to Emin, he didn't even have a chance to say something back - the fight started. No, not the fight - the beating. Two sporty (obviosuly professionals) guys beat Emin and Adnan while others tried to interfere and failed.
Adnan - broken nose, minor injuries.
Emin - cut foot, bruses on the face, minor injuries.
They went to the police station to open the case and write explanation. Police would fool them around for 7 hours during which Emin was asking us to go home, saying it's okay and they'll be out soon. Especially, taking that the sportsmen were already set free.
Their friends and parents, attorney, journalists, everyone was downstairs waiting for them to come out. Untill, Adnan called to say he's been pressed charges and to be detained for 48 hours untill the trial. Emin refused to leave without him and was detained as well.
We saw them leaving the building, beaten and handcuffed, placed in the police car to be taken to the jail. This was the moment when Adnan's father came a bit closer to the car and said loud and clear: "Adnan, mohkem ol!" (Adnan, be strong!). And us? We were applauding. Realising how badly it can end we were applauding, cheering the heroes the system has created itself. By the stupidity and injustice of its actions.
Today there was a meeting in support of Adnan Hajizadeh and Emin Milli with representatives of all the embassies, international organizations, Human Rights attorneys, politicians, journalists, youth activists. Everyone was there, making statements and speeches, signing petitions.
"We will not give up!" said Adnan's father.
"They've been beating and fighting us for 20 years, now they're fighting our children. But they'll not be alone in this battle, we're standing behind them" said Isa Gambar, Secretary General of Musavat party.
Couple of hours before the spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a statement saying Adnan and Emin were the ones to beat up poor sportsmen. And where are the sportsmen? Released with no charges.
The trial's gonna take place tomorrow.
Four years ago I would get shocked hearing similar stories about injustices in Turkmenistan from a friend of mine. Today I'm living my worst nightmares, fighting for the freedom of two of the best Azerbaijanis, I'm proud to be friends with.
I'm exhausted, worried and angry.
Ask me if I love Baku in summer now.
We will not surrender.
God help us.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
While reading my previous posts you've probably been wondering why am I so negative and critical about Azerbaijan. My answer is: the same reason our parents would punish us for bad behaviour - they knew we could do better.
But I must admit - there are reasons that keep me attached to this land of injustice, stubborness and stereotypes. The natural acts of love led by "want" not "must".
Yes, Azerbaijan can be in the middle of nowhere, but it is also a place where people never keep feelings to themselves and argue so loudly their neighbors get deaf. And this is actually the best therapy.
Where orphans don't usually get abandonned but are raised by the realtives of their late parents and aging parents are always looked after by their kids.
Where you never feel lonely, because there's always someone to call and meet up. And wherever you go there's always someone you know. Some might call it a lack of privacy but for me these are the memories of the best spontaneous hang outs.
Where it is a summer tradition to gather all the close realtives and friends under one roof on "bagh" (summer house), feed them with kabab, watermelon with white cheese, samovar tea and endless types of "murebbe" (jam) every weekend. And, of couse, guests are always welcome to stay over.
Where your DJ friends cheer you up by saying "hi" live on radio, reading your MSN messages as if they were from listeners and make you laugh so hard you actually fall down the chair and forget about the sleepless night and the overwhelming day.
Where people secretly miss their armenian friends and neighbors using internet to stay in touch and celebrate Muslin, Christian, heathen and Hallmark :) holidays because this land has always been multiethnic and synergic.
One of my late granpas was a public prosecutor. Every single day after work he would travel to the bordering town to bring Moscow sweets for his niece. He would also take care of the aging mother of some guy he had to imprison by buying her grocery every week for several years until the day he drowned. He never told anyone. The woman showed up crying at the funeral and told the whole story to his family.
So, yes, we can be stubborn, passive, childish but I know we can do better.
And I will never stop hoping for the change.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I've been waiting for her for 4 years. Now I have a hug and a picture from her as well as memories from the breathtaking concert. What else would I need? )
Friday, May 29, 2009
It is a huge achievement to learn how to overcome the anger. A year ago I thought I did.
Yes, I have managed to overcome most of the anger in my life, but it came back as the one against injustice. And once you let this kind of anger out you will not be able to squeeze it back inside. It grows fast and it's contagious.
When my anger was a baby we would bitch about stupid people and bad drivers around, I would put him back to sleep the moment we were home.
As a teenager he would go all Jack Nicholson to the neighbours who throw garbage from the window and policemen asking for bribe.
Today he's a grown up, he lives a live of his own not depending on me. He feeds, entertains and looks after himself. And grows. Every day.
Ninety-one years ago a group of well-educated politicians formed the first Azerbaijani Democratic Republic after the collapse of Russian Empire. THAT Azerbaijan was the first Muslim state in the world to give women equal political rights with men, even before UK, US, Switzerland and some other western countries. Another significant achievement of ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Azerbaijan.
During two years of its existence ADR had to struggle for recognition in the World, including negotiations with W.Wilson, fight the Dashnaki and Bolshevik invasions as well as Irani resentment and, what is more difficult, brake inner prejudices of the centuries-old slaved Azerbaijani nation.
After only two years of independence we were slaved by Soviet Union again. According to Vladimir Lenin the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil. On April 28, 1920 we became Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
However, the former capital of Azerbaijan Ganja managed to resist the invasion for one more month. And, what is very significant, they DID celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic only three days before Ganja was finally occupied.
Leaders of the ADR either fled to Menshevik Georgia, Turkey and Iran, or were captured by Bolsheviks, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade (who was later allowed to emigrate) and executed (like Gen. Selimov, Gen. Sulkevich, Gen. Agalarov, a total of over 20 generals), or assassinated like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Javanshir. Most students and citizens travelling abroad remained in those countries never to return again to their country.
Does any of this sound like present Azerbaijan to you? Maybe, only the last sentence.
What is Azerbaijan today?
A country which celebrates the Flowers Day by 10 whole minutes of fireworks, all-day celebrations and a huge concert and only mentions with no celebration whatsoever the most significant day in its history - the day we fought back our independence.
Today, the whole 8 million population of Azerbaijan is weaker than the group of people who defended Ganja 91 years ago to celebrate the day of May 28th.
Today my anger triumphs.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"Toy" is a wonderful opportunity to meet up with endless amount of relatives from all over the country and show them how rich and cool we are. We argue and yell at each other over every single detail of the "toy" - starting from the bride's dress (which is usually bought by the groom), or groom's suit (bought by the bride), amount of jewelery brought for the girl or seats for each family. Old relatives terrorise us to hurry up, because they wanna live to see our wedding and dare to argue here. But what is most important - neither bride nor groom decide ANYTHING about their own wedding. "Toy" is the culmination of our lives, the edge of the world almost every girl here prepares for ever since she gets her first period.
The rulers of the wedding are mothers. If groom's mother is rich enough she buys all the clothing and jewelery for the bride from Dubai or Istanbul. She is always updated with the prices for gold in the world and usually remembers every single thing she brought for the girl till the end of her or bride's life. Bride's mother analyses the gifts and decides whether to gossip off or praise the new in-laws.
After several months of mutual torture, arguements and several brake ups the wedding is finally on. Friends and neighbours with expensive cars escort the main car, drive fast and honk all the way to the restaurant. After 6 hours of exhausting wedding parents count money the guests brought while bride and groom can't even think of spending their first night - the only thing they can do is crash on bed and fall into a sleeping coma.
My brother got married when he was 22. A close girlfriend of mine got married at the age of 21 to her very first boyfriend. Somehow both couples manage to stay happy or at least to look so.
Perhaps, something is wrong with me that I can't understang how one makes this important decision without any life experience. But I do realise one thing - here it's normal.
Many girls here get raised with one major aim in life - to get married. Yes, it's not THAT important where or what they study, but what really matters is how many azeri meals they can cook. They are programmed. Some of them never travelled without their mothers, because "girl's dignity is easy to sully". The best entertainment for them is... someone else's "toy". It is also the best way to show how beautiful you are and after wait for the call of mother's acquaintances with a purpose to introduce you to their sons. So we live from "toy" to "toy" waiting for the one of our own.
Guys are allowed to live lives of their own untill their parents decide - it's time. Then the race starts. And even very sane ones can't resist the pressure and give up - they marry ones they're told to horrifyingly often. If it's necessary - they break up with current girlfriends, come back from abroad and do all sorts of forced things. In a couple of moths after the wedding they usually find themselves mistresses. Some do it even earlier.
Today, in our society, the "necessity of a wedding" beats up not only romance and the whole "happily ever after" concept but a very needed in marriage "mature approach" as well.
I tried to figure out why exactly it's happening to us and then it just came up - we simply enjoy going S&M with our lives. And "toy" here is just another toy for tortures.
P.S. and of course, as every rule, this one has its exceptions. Like this:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Twenty years ago when R.F. was the General Director of the Azerbaijan State Film Studio a young director V.M. came with a one page idea of a controversial and obviously anti-soviet movie which no one would want to make. R.F. liked it and wrote a scenario, set V.M. as a director and produced the movie himself.
"Yaramaz" (Bastard) they named it.
Several years later after V.M. filmed a series of pro-governmental movies, became deputy minister and GM of a TV channel, for some unknown reason he wouldn't say hi and became absolutely inadequate to R.F. and some other people.
Couple of days ago R.F. got an invitation to the anniversary of the movie...
Another important word here: "Hormet" - respect.
Yes, we are eager to be respected by our neighbors, co-workers, employees, friends and family. We don't do anything "ayib" in order not to lose "hormet". Men consider women as their "qeyret" - dignity, so they assure men's "hormet" in society.
All people are strictly divided into those who deserve "hormet" and those who don't. Although, one's got much less limitations if he's rich or holds an important position in government. He gets his "hormet" by default. Moreover, his kids also inherit the "hormet". They park their cars in the middle of the road, because their fathers know the police chief, they get served first in stores and restaurants, they can easily say to a professor: "Get off, my dad can buy you".
Ironically, we also use this word as a slang for bribery. We give "hormet" to policemen, state employees, university professors. We bribe respectfully.
Does "hormet" count with money or power we have? Can it get cheaper during crisis? Can we get a discount for "hortmet"?
...R.F. refused to go to the anniversary today. His wife and daughter did.
Wonder what happened when they arrived? There were no seats left for them. They had to request representatives of the Ministry of Culture to find ones. V.M. wouldn't even move.
What was the whole event about? V.M., not the movie.
How many times did he mention R.F. or anyone who helped him with the movie? Only once. At the end.
Did he invite the editor or the rest of the crew? No.
Yes, "hormet" means a lot here. Especially the one for bastards.
Monday, May 18, 2009
He started playing jazz when it was still banned in Soviet Union as the "music of capitalists".
He won first prize at the 8th International Competition of Jazz Composers for his composition "Waiting for Aziza" in Monaco in 1978, a year before he died.
He had a heart attack during his concert in Tashkent 30 years ago.
Both of his daughters Aziza and Lala are well-known musicians now.
This is the music he left for us.
Baki Gejeleri (Baku nights)
Also Fantaziya, Gelmedi and many more.
More about Vagif Mustafazadeh on Wiki
Sunday, May 17, 2009
We arrived at the place, ordered drinks, took pictures, listened to the songs, which, I have to admit, were mostly much better than all the other Eurovision contests I remember.
Anyway, then came the Armenian girls.
The crowd started whistling, boo-ing and finally demanded that the organisators turn off the sound. They did. Armenian girls danced and opened their mouths in total silence to the accompaniment of Azerbaijani whistling. As I expected such thing to happen, the only question I asked my friends was: "Is it gonna help return the lands?". Of course, no one have had the answer.
Then there were Turkish chick and Azerbaijani legs with Arash jumping up and down around them. Have to admit, Aysel looked gorgeous.
And of course, my favourite Norwegian who kicked the big Eurovision ass with his simple but adorable song and forget-about-your-boyfriend smile.
When the traditionally predictable voting started the crowd stood up on their feet cursing one countries and making plans on visiting the most generous to Azerbaijan ones. They were happy to discover they are still alowed to love Ukraine and Netherlands.
I didn't notice the picture Sirusho held in her hands but I saw it today on TV and it made me think. I finally realized that there's no chance for this region to become a civilized one unless we rewrite the whole history which makes us all think we're fucking special.
We might have had plenty of lands and legendary kings but what do we have today? 3 major and several minor conflicts in a tiny region and headlines in the world news? Is this something to be proud of? Are hating-the-neigbor zombie generations good future for us? Not for me or the kids I will eventually have. Not for any of us.
Perhaps, it's time to switch from Kindergarten approach to the real Conflict Resolution one, don't you think?
Our kids need fairytales not war tales, love, not hatred.
Our kids deserve the peaceful happiness we have never had.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
She would use it if we talked loudly, asked innapropriate questions or get into school fights. "Ayibdi" was an important part of her personality, hence, identity. Frankly, this scary word is a part of every Azerbaijani.
Married women should not stay out late, wear mini skirts, have male friends or talk about their sex lives even to their husbands. Girls should not chat to neighbor guys, talk late on the phone or let male colleagues give them a lift. "Ayibdi". Although there are much less limitations for men, the "A" word still has strong influence on them.
"Ayibdi" is a moral limit, a code of society rules which u can not cross in order to be a good respected citizen.
So, the only thing that bothers me nowadays is the immorality we came to by keeping up this code. We care about insignificant things limiting freedoms of our children and forget about what is really important.
Do we respect ourselves for accepting bribes? For detaining innocents? For screwing our own country? For being a part of the destructive system? For keeping silence?
Why isn't this "ayib"?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
2. Every person who starts a conversation with me says "I'm sorry, I was at the countryside that day and couldn't join u". Didn't u know, that a lot of protest actions were planned for Sunday. Why would you leave then?
3. There are also some smart asses asking us "Was it necessary? U're lucky they didn't beat u up or so". So? U prefer to be afraid while some people think otherwise.
4. Police came to my house to "check the registrations" asking my mom questions about me.