- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Azerbaijan accused of intimidating writer
Question of the Day
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN (AP) - Human Rights Watch accused the government of Azerbaijan on Tuesday of intimidating a writer at the center of a public row over his depiction of violence between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
Aylisli’s novel “Stone Dreams” is set in part during the wake of a bitter war in the 1990s between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The book makes allusions to instances of mob violence by Azerbaijanis against helpless Armenians. Many see the work as a condemnation of the Azerbaijani people.
The Azerbaijani government has long laid all the blame for the war on Armenia.
In a decree stripping the 75-year-old writer of state honors and his monthly $1,270 pension, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said that Aylisli was trying to cast Azerbaijanis in an inhumane light.
On Monday, outspoken pro-government lawmaker Hafiz Hajiyev told local media he is offering a $12,700 reward to anybody that would cut off Aylisli’s ear.
Police spokesman Ehsan Zahid said the threat would be investigated, even though nobody has yet made a formal complaint to the authorities. “Nobody, regardless of their position in society, or their social, political, religious and ethnic identity, has any right to mete out their own justice,” Zahid said.
People have protested outside Aylisli’s home, and copies of his books have been burned. The writer’s wife and son have both been dismissed from their jobs amid widespread public acrimony.
Human Rights Watch said Aylisli’s son was compelled to resign his position as a senior official in the customs agency this month. His wife was likewise made to quit her job at a public library, said HRW.
“The Azerbaijani authorities have an obligation to protect Akram Aylisli,” Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Instead, they have led the effort to intimidate him, putting him at risk with a campaign of vicious smears and hostile rhetoric.”
The war over Nagorno-Karabakh has left a legacy of deep-seated hatred between the former Soviet republics. Leaders frequently trade barbs, and minor cross-border clashes have resulted in many fatalities since the cease-fire was officially declared in 1994.
Last week, Aylisli told The Associated Press that he intended his novel to serve as a call to peace between the bitterly opposed countries and that he hoped an Armenian writer would write a similar work. “I didn’t think it would be so politicized. I wanted to show that Azerbaijanis and Armenians are not enemies,” he said.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry and the presidential administration didn’t respond to telephone calls Tuesday seeking comment about the author’s treatment.
Leonard reported from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
TWT Video Picks
By Richard Rahn
Treaty would let tyrants peer into Americans' financial information
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq