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Role of Social Media in presidential election

31 Oct

socialFor the first time in history of Azerbaijani social media played a significant role in covering presidential elections intensively. In October 2013 people planned and organized protests on Facebook. 

During the pre-election campaign social networks served as theonly alternativesource of information. Opposition party members were actively using social media, mostly Facebook, to provoke people’s protest.While the government strictly controls traditional media, social networks are the only ways for opposition to share their visions to Azerbaijani citizens.

On 14 May the government did some preventing to limit the activity on social media. Parliamentary adopted special amendments to the law N147 and N148 of the Criminal Code of establishing legal punishment of up to six month imprisonment for the users of the social networks who will try to violate the rules.

New amendments are primarily targeted to the Facebook activists who have been enjoying freedom to criticize Azerbaijani government. At the same time some popular page Xilas” and “Istefa” of Azerbaijani opposition suddenly disappeared. There were claims that it was done by pro-governmental people.

There are 1.3 million social networks users in Azerbaijan and they are actively following the updates especially before Election Day. A day prior the elections pro-oppositional online MEYDAN TV shared information about new initiative from the Central Election Commission (CEC).
On October 8, a scandal erupted over the new IOS and Android application that Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) planned to launch for voters to follow the presidential election vote count on their mobile phones on Election Day, October 9. But Meydan TV published a screenshot of the application one day before presidential election which showing the outcome of the election in the 58th election constituency Hacigabul-Kurdamir under the caption “Initial Results of Elections.” The results awarded 72.76 percent (11337 votes) for incumbent President IlhamAliyev, 7.4 percent (1153 votes) for the single opposition candidate JamilHasanli, and other opposition candidate 5.24 percent (817 votes) for GudratHasanguliyev.
After this scandal opposition candidate claimed it was the proof of expected falsification. A few hours later, the developer of the application, VusalIsayev, was claimed in social media that it was as test and we want do test new program also all this information is previous election result.
Though the initiativewas discussed for a long time.Because in previous election main opposition candidate CamilHasnliwas not candidate to presidential election. The same time it was one of the most leading not only local but also international media. The Al Jazeera, CNBC, Reuters and other international media write article about this scandal.
International media, international organizations used videos, photos spread through social media. Social media was the only source of information from the eyewitnesses, which gave transparent picture about the presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

On October 2 NatigMamadov, the secretary of the Central Election Commission in Azerbaijan, stated that if election-related propaganda, massive campaigns in social networks impact the election results, it should be prevented.
However, National Consul candidateand social activists continued using social networks actively. For instance MehmanHuseynov, the well-known pro-democracy blogger shot, video,which got over 17,000 views since October 1.Huseynov was imprisoned on October 2, shortly after the video was uploaded on YouTube. He was released after three hours. Many social network users shared this video and the video become more popular in Azerbaijan than it was before presidential elections and before his imprisonment.
Directorof Information Technology, Internet and Media Organization (ITIM),AzerNazarov, said that this time the pro-governmental decided to prepare agitation video for social networks, not for TV channel.
“They used all advantages of social networks. They made a good quality video and uploaded it on YouTube, shared it on Facebook and Twitter intensively,” he said. Nazarov compared opposition’s campaign in social media to the powerful governmental propaganda – “The results show that pro-governmental forcesworked much more effectively, were much more managed and organized, – he said.
“Opposition gave preference to Twitter. Twitter is still a battlefield of hash tag dominance between opposition and pro-governmental forces”, – Nazarovstated.  According to Nazarov during the campaigns social media was used by politicians to humiliate and abuse each other.
According to “Social bakers analytics” during last month the fastest-growing popularity on Facebook in Azerbaijan had opposition candidate CamilHasanli’s official page. IlhamAliyev came right after him.

Voters supporting eather opposition or ruling party candidate published their ballot photos on Facebook. From 8:00 am numerous videos with cases of violations were posted on Facebook and YouTube.In one video a person was throwing six ballotsinto the box it was first scandal video on Election Day in Azerbaijan. As soon asthe video appearedon Facebook pro-governmental forces tried to proveit was fake.
Presidential elections in Azerbaijan were held on October 9. The total number of voters around Azerbaijan was 5.145.643 though only 3.720.643 of them (72.31%) took part in voting process.
Social Media activism had so far no impact on the results of the elections. The head of Central Election Commission,MazahirPanahov, announced IlhamAliyevwinning the elections with 84.54% of votes, while the main opposition candidate CamilHanasli got only 5.53 %.


Harlem Shake Video Lands Azerbaijani Activist in Jail for “Hooliganism”

20 May

Earlier this year, the Harlem Shake, a video Internet meme, became a viral online sensation. For most, the Harlem Shake phenomenon was a quick laugh that rapidly grew stale. But in Azerbaijan, at least one activist may be reaping the consequences for years to come.

On May 17, Azerbaijani youth activist Ilkin Rustemzade was arrested on charges of hooliganism for his alleged involvement in a Harlem Shake video filmed in the country’s capital city, Baku. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube more than two months before his arrest, is completely apolitical, and Rustemzade does not even appear on-screen. The government claims that he helped film it, though his lawyer denies he was involved at all.

Others who have made Harlem Shake videos in Baku—including members of a pro-government youth movement—have not been punished. The real reason Rustemzade has been targeted is because of his online activism and his criticism of the government as part of the Free Youth Organization. Rustemzade has already been sentenced to two months of pre-trial detention, and he faces up to five years in jail if convicted of the hooliganism charges.

Just two days before his arrest in connection with the video, Rustemzade was released after serving 15 days of administrative detention. He had been arrested for gathering peacefully to commemorate victims on the anniversary of the 2009 shooting at the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. Rustemzade also served six days of administrative detention in March for organizing a protest calling attention to the deaths of soldiers in non-combat situations.

Baku-based Human Rights Club Chairman Rasul Jafarov said in an emailed statement on May 20, “The targeting of individuals in connection with a harmless ‘Harlem Shake’ video highlights the absurdity of the current political situation in the country.”

Absurd indeed. Just last week, Azerbaijan’s parliament also passed legislation that, once signed into law by the president, would criminalize defamation online, meaning citizens could face up to three years in jail for their Internet postings.

Despite their stated commitment to Internet freedom, Azerbaijani authorities seem determined to identify and punish individuals who express critical opinions or call for protests online. More than 80 others are currently behind bars in Azerbaijan for politically motivated reasons, including seven members of the N!DA civic movement, who were active social media users. There are also increasing reports of harassment, questioning, and arrests of individuals in connection with their Facebook posts.

Local activists fear that Rustemzade will not be the only one arrested in connection with this video. As the charges against him specify “group hooliganism,” further arrests are likely. One potential target is Mehman Huseynov, a well-known photojournalist, blogger, and activist who appeared in the video.

Emin Milli, a blogger who was once imprisoned, believes that the situation will continue to worsen. Milli and his friend Adnan Hajizade, often referred to as the “donkey bloggers,” spent 17 months in jail from 2009-2010 on politically motivated hooliganism charges in connection with a satirical video they posted to YouTube, featuring a press conference with a person in a donkey suit.

“It is absolutely absurd that someone could be arrested for this video, for simply having fun. Every time I think the situation in Azerbaijan cannot become more absurd, the government proves me wrong,” Milli told me.

Genocide of Armenians against Azerbaijanis

31 Mar

Five years at the horse roof

19 Feb
This house live Ms Terlan's family

This house live Ms Terlan’s family

The woman standing in front of a small house is 44 years old, but the cold and the sad look on her face seem to have aged her prematurely. With a sad look she waited for us, her hands crossed on her chest. Her facial expression showed that she was anxious about visitors coming into her home. But as we approached, she slowly and shyly whispered “welcome” and invited us in. Her home was a single room of about 15 square meters. A torn rug covered the soil floor. The ceiling was covered with polyethylene. Broken pieces of wall were lying in the middle of the room. Sunlight shined through the cracks in the door. In one corner of the room there were two beds. In the middle of the room was a dining table with only one chair. The family sleeps, cooks and bathes in the same room.

    Tarlan Ismailova’s family of four lives in the village of Sadakhlo, 100 kilometers from Tbilisi on the Armenian-Georgian border. Ismailova

She women lived in her family hours roof in 5 years.

She women lived in her family hours roof in 5 years.

says that 17 years ago, after getting married with the consent of her family, she moved in with her husband’s family in the house next to this one. She delivered her two children in that house, but the house was crowded and also began to crumble. Her father-in-law forced them to move into a stable where he had been keeping horses. “We lived in that stable for more than five years,” she said shyly. “We had too many hardships. There was nothing inside the room. When it rained or snowed, the room used to be full of water. Our feet were in water. At night we slept with a coat and sweater on so that we wouldn’t freeze to death.” With here eyes full of tears, she said that her siblings made no effort to help them, and that her husband is an alcoholic. “My husband is sick and jobless,” she said. “He does not help us in any way. Even worse, he disturbs us.” She said that to support her children, in summer she works in the yards of villagers turning up the soil for them and doing other work. She said she sometimes skips eating herself so she can give enough food to her children to keep them from being hungry. Neighbors sometimes give them food, and when there are weddings in the village, she is sometimes given the leftovers.

When asked how many children she has, Ismailova answers that she has three, two daughters and one son. She goes on to say that several years ago she lost her only son. He was 10 years old when he developed a lung disease. She needed a lot of money for his treatment and that she did not have that money. “My son passed away before my eyes,” she said. “ You do not know what it means or a mother to see the death of her own child. You do know what it means to have a boy for an Azerbaijani family.” After her son died, she become ill and needed surgery. With the help of villagers and Sabir Aliyev, the head of an NGO in Sadakhlo village, she survived. Without their help, she says she would have died. Donations from families who worship at the local mosque pay for a sack of flour that is given every month to her family. She says the government gives them 100 lari (about $US66) every month. She says that last month she spent 80 lari for a load of wood to burn for heat, and that it takes seven loads of wood to stay warm all winter.

 She said her youngest daughter studies in the third grade and has additional expenses. “For this reason, I took my eldest daughter out of school in the seventh grade so that she could help me earn money. But Ismailova said she hoped her older daughter could someday continue her education. The oldest daughter, 17-year-old Sevda, stood in the corner of the room dressed in a red jacket. Her black eyes, swarthy skin and sluggish look seemed to show she is reconciled with her destiny. Her mother says that several times people have come to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage. “But every time I refused,” He mother said. “Because how can I accept fiancees in these conditions? You can see conditions in my house. I feel embarrassed. Where they will sit when they come? At least two people will come, but I do not have two chairs for them. Also, as part of tradition, I need to give her dowry. “But God always tests everyone. Maybe this is my very difficult trial. God is great and merciful people are many. Until now there have been people who helped me. I believe that with the will of God I will overcome this test.”
After these words, she bows her head with tearful eyes.

By Asim Jalilov

Google to correct map errors

6 Nov
Google has said it will try to indicate the names of Azerbaijani territories correctly, Google vice president Vinton Cerf told journalists in Baku, answering the question about wrong description of Azerbaijani territories as Armenian. “We will try to give a correct description of these areas,” Cerf said.
Some of the territories of Azerbaijan were described as the territory of Armenia on Google maps. Corrections were made after the protests of Azerbaijan.
Source: Trend

Azerbaijan’s questionable future gas policy

5 Nov

“Azerbaijan might not find market to sell its gas except for close neighbors. Even to close neighbors it will be compelled to export gas for market price. There might be serious problems if dependency continues so much,” economic expert and co-founder of Republican Alternative Movement Natig Jafarly sounded these predictions at the press conference devoted to state budget policy on October 30, 2012. Expert stressed that Azerbaijan government chose wrong strategy, by laying hopes on gas from a field Shah Deniz-2, as they expected after oil, gas era will start. Jafarly underscored that the gas situation in the world has profoundly changed after shale gas concept came up. He told journalists that “As shale gas is buried in the deep layers beneath the earth’s surface, previously its extraction was very expensive for which reason it was not developed. But the cost of extracting shale gas with new US fracking technology is already very cheap, even cheaper than production of oil fields in Europe, approximately 80-90 USD per 1000 cubic meters. However in European market gas price is 400 USD.” Continue reading

What is your main source of news?

2 Nov

How people receive and process news is changing rapidly nowadays. Try to remember the most recent stories heard yesterday. Sandy storm hit US  east cost, Presidential campaign in US and etc. Where did you get most of your information? Where did you hear it first? In the past, most people tuned to a few sources to learn about what was going on in the world and country. Maybe it was an only TV channel or a favorite columnist in the morning paper. Today, people are getting their updates from dozens of different places. It could be social media, blogs and other sources. In order to determine where most people get info I conducted public opinion poll in central part of Baku, in Azerbaijan among 25 people, age 18 and older.

Tarana Agamaliyeva , 55 , housewife “TV is my favorite news source, but usually when I am in a bus or on the road I listen to FM radio for news” she said. Asif Bayramov, 25 , street vendor , says he is too busy to watch TV that is why his primary source for news is his mobile. “I go home late , sometimes even at 9 p.m and get very tired , so I don’t feel well to watch news on TV, usually when I have time I try to get news from my phone by going online” says Asif.

Continue reading