Introductory remarks of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the session of the State ‎Commission holding 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the ‎chairmanship of the Azerbaijani President in our country - December 3, 1998‎

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year is devoted to problems of the human rights in Azerbaijan as well. In the beginning of this year we have made necessary decisions in this connection and created the State Commission on preparation, carrying out of actions on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I consider that from the beginning of the year till now we have done a lot of work and today gathered for the session of the State Commission. Together with members of the commission, as well as officials of the state and governmental bodies of the republic, representatives of nongovernmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan have been invited to the session. The purpose of today's session is the analysis of the done work and definition of the forthcoming actions connected with human rights in Azerbaijan.

Concluding Speech

- Dear members of the commission, ladies and gentlemen!

At the session of the commission, the members of the commission and the representatives of non governmental organizations, invited to the session, gave detailed information on position of human rights in Azerbaijan and on work and successes achieved in last years. It is possible to tell with satisfaction on the basis of it that last years we practically carry out the United Nations Universal, international declaration on protection of human rights and much has been done, the certain successes have been got.

This sphere is new to the Azerbaijan society. It is the sphere really created in Azerbaijan after gaining of the state independence. In fact, in the past the Soviet Union, in structure of which we were, has joined the declaration adopted by the United Nations Organization in 1948. But it is necessary to recognize that the obligations of the declaration, it is possible to tell, were not realized in the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union was living within the limits of the ideological principles. And still it is possible to tell, we had little information on meaning, significance and value of this declaration.

Since gaining its state independence, Azerbaijan is considered as joined the declaration of the United Nations Organization. However, after gaining the state independence necessary work in this field has not started at once in Azerbaijan. And it was impossible to expect it because any country which has proclaimed the state independence faces with set of difficult problems, and you know that Azerbaijan has faced even more difficult and painful problems. Aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan, going war and the complex, confused political-social situation proceeding about ten years inside Azerbaijan - all this, naturally, have not create necessary conditions for realization of the United Nations declaration related with protection of human rights in Azerbaijan. However, at the same time there were also subjective reasons. Some state bodies or the persons representing the state, on the contrary, have roughly broken human rights, prevented implementation of the requirements related with human rights or put obstacles.

Having conducted in Azerbaijan process of the democratic, legal, secular state construction, in which human rights took the basic place, we have carried construction work, managed to do much on providing human rights in Azerbaijan. Today it has been told in detail about it and I declare that, at last, the first Constitution adopted in 1995 of the independent Azerbaijan has created all opportunities for providing and protection of human rights in Azerbaijan, including implementation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our obligation and our duty consist of realization of requirements of the Constitution and execution of the laws adopted by Azerbaijan's supreme legislative body.

Probably, some laws have not been adopted yet. However, if we can put into practice regulations of the Constitution and passed laws then it is possible to tell, we have done much at the present stage of the independent state. Therefore, today at the session of the commission, I invite all both state governmental bodies of Azerbaijan and the nongovernmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan to unite their efforts in the name of realization of the Constitution's requirements and the laws connected with protection, ensuring of human rights.

Undoubtedly, this theme is very extensive. It is impossible to approach to human rights from a narrow frame. Unfortunately, some organizations and some people not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the international organizations of the world consider human rights only within the limits of the rights of separate persons, individuals. Certainly, this is deceptive opinion. And the declaration itself shows that human rights must be understood in the widest sense. Here it was spoken a lot about importance and especially these opinions are important for Azerbaijan. Because the rights of each person should be protected provided, however, if human rights are broken in the mass form or the rights of all people are broken, this question should draw even greater attention and the attitude to it should have prevailing character. I also agree with this opinion that the genocides, aggressions made against the Azerbaijani people for last two centuries are the most awful event from the point of view of human rights infringement.

Violently exiling from Armenia Azerbaijanis who during centuries, thousand-year lived there, on their native lands, their places and being accompanied of all by bloody acts, destruction of people, loss of their property - all this shows infringement of the Azerbaijani people's rights during their great historical stage.

We can complain today that world community, international organizations have not shown due attention to infringement of our people's rights, we have not been taken care of. But at the same time we should acknowledge that we, that is, the Azerbaijani people, in the certain degree have reconciled with the fact of mass, rough infringement of their rights, and, unfortunately, it was not taken necessary measures to assess these atrocities, these crimes in the world. Probably, other peoples do more for protection of their rights. Probably, their rights have not been so broken, but they lead up it to the world community. However, we endure it for decades, for thousand-year. We have not usually raised our voice, not carry out necessary works. And this century, in XX century, the rights of the Azerbaijani people have been often broken. The rights of the Azerbaijani people have been terribly broken by the Soviet authority. Nowadays, it can be regarded as infringement of all peoples' rights lived in territory of the Soviet Union. It had the generalized character and has ensued from the features of the state.

However, at the same time, mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1948 during the Soviet authority, banishment of Azerbaijanis in the mass order from present Azerbaijan to Iran in 30th years or exile of Azerbaijanis from territory of Georgia in 1944 and set of other such actions have not received the necessary estimation. In the beginning of XX century, in 1918 or in 1920, the genocide of Azerbaijanis by Armenians took place during anarchy. However, after 1920, that is, during the Soviet authority, infringement of the Azerbaijani people's rights already occurred during existing state authority.

At last, exile of Azerbaijanis from Armenia's territory with violence in 1988 and tortures, losses, death, and finally, violent exile of Azerbaijanis from their native lands as a result of occupation of a part of our territories due to military aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan - all these are brutal infringement of the Azerbaijani people's rights and each Azerbaijanis. But, unfortunately, - once again I repeat - and it concerns everyone, it has turned into the usual phenomenon.

And now, during living within the frames of the independent state, dealing with the problems of human rights, it leads talks, struggles or disputes only for the rights of separate persons. But once again I emphasize right of each person should be protected. However today, evaluating a modern picture of Azerbaijan from the political point of view, it is visible that there is a mass brutal infringement of the Azerbaijani people's rights on a global scale. Speaking about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights or conducting any work connected with this declaration, in all spheres, in international community, in the international organizations, everywhere we should bring this question to attentions, spread, inform the world on mass, brutal infringement of the Azerbaijani people's rights. It is a historical duty for each Azerbaijani. May be someone has greater or smaller opportunities to carry out this obligation. However, the executed small work together with another big one is our common goal.

I consider that our state and governmental bodies should be engaged seriously in these subjects - not as campaigns but on a regular basis, consistently. Our press organs, scientific-research organizations, public organizations, nongovernmental organizations - everyone should be engaged in this issue seriously. In Azerbaijan everyone should have the same opinion in this question. Here there must not be authority-opposition. This is our national question. This is our universal question. This is our common moral question, our moral duty. Here nobody should expect any benefit for himself (herself). Nobody should use it for himself (herself). Nobody should abuse this question for the personal purposes. Everyone should be united and prove to world community, the states of the world, nations of the world, that the rights of the Azerbaijani people are broken by decades, centuries and at the end of XX century their rights have also been brutally broken and oppressed.

Certainly, alongside with it we should operate as well as in other fields in connection with human rights. Information on the work done last years, shows that we really create a legal, democratic state and we try to make protection of human rights the public question, nation-wide question.

It is known, while estimating the done work, it is necessary to acknowledge shortcomings, lacks available in this field. It is necessary to acknowledge for liquidation of these shortcomings and lacks. Instead of that someone uses it in any purposes. We always should inform the truth up to the public, people, country. But we should prevent those who distort the truth, and for this purpose we should give the truthful information.

The most important work done by us is the abolition of capital punishment. You know, this is historical event. Our public, people should estimate it properly. It is not usual event or step.

The abolition of capital punishment does not pursue the purpose to pardon any criminal. It is a question which has universal, national value. The abolition of capital punishment proves that our republic, independent Azerbaijan, is the state which carries out a humanist policy.

To kill the person is the biggest atrocity. If someone kills someone, he makes the biggest atrocity. If the person, who has perpetrated the grave crime, is executed on a verdict of court, this is very severe thing in itself. Once again I say the abolition of capital punishment is the event of global character. That is, we said "no" to the policy of a death penalty, which had been consistently carried out by our nation and former states existed in Azerbaijan where we live for centuries.

Therefore I consider that this theme is very important for the scientific-research organizations, lawyers. Once again I say, I tried to explain to you its wide value. It is done not for one, five, ten persons. For example, when we have abolished a death penalty, there were 100-120 persons in prison, sentenced to death. Each of them has been fairly punished by courts.

Up to abolishing of a death penalty I some times suggested to consider and bring documents of some people sentenced to death to me to pardon them or to replace punishment. Analyzing it, those who were engaged in amnesty, reported me that among them there were some who had killed 5-6 persons, and brutally. Is it possible to pardon them? There is a truth here too. But, despite it, we - the state - have not wanted to execute the one who has killed 5 persons. It shows that our state is humanist, highly appreciates a man and its greater belief in man's education.

Our nongovernmental organizations, other organizations could not show due attention to this event. Some organizations, which are in opposition side, counted nothing happened. However, it was a historical event.

Considerable work has been done for last years in Azerbaijan in the field of protection of human rights, providing the person's freedom, including abolishment of glavlit (Office for protection of state secrets). There were certain restrictions in press organs. And its liquidation has shown to the world that in Azerbaijan all freedoms are really given to people. But people should use these given freedom wisely, not use them for the personal, mercenary purposes.

I also approach to this question from the dialectic point of view. I suppose that after abolition of these restrictions some press organs have simply become puzzled. They have counted that now, using these freedoms, it is possible to slander, to write a lie, to insult, to offend and other things.

It is known that authors of similar articles, opinions in a press show their cultural level or its absence. As I have already told, I approach to it from the dialectic point of view. I think that in due course of time people will understand that these freedoms should use not from a preconceived, slanderous position but from civil position.

But I regret that these opportunities made up by state, government have led to such negative phenomena. Last months articles having slanderous, offensive character were published in several newspapers and when those, who have been offended, have wanted to protect their rights, authors of these articles have made uproar, speak about "infringements of their rights", and even have gone on hunger- strike.

The action of hunger-strike can be even sign of weakness. Personally, I regard it so. The one, who struggles for his rights, should struggle by observing his self-respect. It is impossible to achieve something by going on hunger-strike, winning someone's mercy, pity. Therefore I would advise everyone who has gone on hunger strike, to leave this invention. Certainly, I pity those who really go on hunger-strike and I would not like anybody to be languished, to meet difficulties.

Yesterday it was informed on the Russian TV that not receiving their salary for six months teachers in the Ulyanovsk region have started hunger strike for a long time and one of them has died. It was announced as big incident. However, probably, this hunger-strike has the basis. The person worked, should receive the salary, but they do not pay.

However, I think that the hunger-strikes gone on in Azerbaijan recently, have no analogue in the world. Today I once again declare that I advise to stop the action of hunger-strike. At the same time I trust that judicial authorities, judicial bodies will fairly consider all cases. If these issues gets special character and already is under the control of the public, I cannot understand in any way that the court can make the unfair decision. If these press employees really combat for the truth, I today address to all judicial bodies, judicial authorities to be fair. Judicial authorities, justice bodies should be especially fair. However, it is not necessary to try to break a political situation in Azerbaijan by such events. It is impossible to break political stability by these.

Thus, once again I note, the work conducted in Azerbaijan in connection with human rights, yields the positive results. I wish that our state, governmental bodies and non governmental organizations to unite their efforts henceforward in protection of human rights. It is such a sphere in which there should not be discrimination.

I am very glad that today, at our session there are representatives of non governmental organizations, some of them made a speech here. I consider that they spoke with very important ideas and offers. As a whole, I charge to our apparatus, that is, the President's Executive Apparatus to analyze all offers put forward here for a short time. If there will be a necessity to make corresponding decisions on them, present these offers to me.

Once again I declare, participation of representatives of non governmental organizations today here is the positive phenomenon. I would like this experience to be continued as well as in the future, irrespective its political outlook, membership of any party, non governmental organizations should unite their efforts in the name of Azerbaijan's national interests.

As the head of the Azerbaijan state, I absolutely object to stratification of these nongovernmental organizations, to take a stand of opposition to each other. On the contrary, I invite all the organizations to unite efforts. I declare that the government of Azerbaijan and the state bodies are ready to cooperate with each organization in this field.

Assessing the done work, it is necessary to tell that we should do still much. There are many new things for independent Azerbaijan as democracy, market economy, free trade and independence, including care, attention to human rights, their protection on the basis of principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration.

It is natural that we can not acclimatize the society, all people to these principles in short term. We can not achieve full observance of these principles in the state bodies. It is a reality. For example, to adopt the Constitution demanded the big will. But we have shown our will at acceptance of the project of the Constitution. The project of the Constitution has been adopted by the people on a referendum. Laws have been discussed in the supreme legislative body and adopted. But their execution is big and very long process. Change in people's consciousness, change in psychologies, and increasing of level in legal knowledge - all these demand time.

Thus, I consider that we should carry out our work consistently. However, let nobody create illusions neither for himself, nor for another that Azerbaijan has reached or should reach a high level in the field of human rights. I consider that Azerbaijan could not reach it yet. Because I repeat, we should acclimatize the public to this business. Executive bodies should be acclimatized to this business. It should find its reflection in consciousness of the executor that he could carry out requirements of the law, Constitutions properly. But it depends not only on the executor. The simple citizen should understand necessity of observance of the law, construction of the life within the limits of the law. However, unfortunately, some of those who speak about human rights and have lifted a sensation about "infringements of human rights in Azerbaijan", do not observe laws, break them, break the rights of other people. Protecting someone's rights, they break the rights of others, infringe on the rights of others. Real situation is so.

Therefore I once again say, let nobody, including the organizations which are in opposition, consider that they are allowed to break human rights in Azerbaijan. No. Human rights are protected by the Azerbaijan state, state and governmental bodies, the Constitution of our republic and the laws adopted in the country. The work done in this area is before eyes. Who really aspires to protect human rights in Azerbaijan and to develop a legal state, should unite with government, state, all organizations. Once again I repeat, it is not necessary to exaggerate this theme, to use it in the mercenary purposes.

We have founded the Scientific Research institute on Human Rights, in other words we have made a decision on it. I consider that greater problems stand before this institute. I would like, the institute to be organized by well-informed experts, scientists and to carry out useful work.

As a whole, as I noted in the beginning of my speech, it is necessary to carry out extensive work connected with national questions. Protection of the separate persons' rights is a duty for each state. We should and we shall do it. However, aspiration to protect the right of our people, the nation and to prevent the trampling on their rights in the future, to analyze widely injustice against the Azerbaijani people, to create work, books, works of art and to declare to all over world about this - is not business of one generation. However, we should start this the voluntary basis and transfer it to the future generations, that is, we should put in pawn a basis. This work should proceed for decades. But we voluntarily should put in pawn this basis. I pursued this purpose when I issued the decree in connection with deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1948, and in other initiatives.

In last times, I have spoken in my speeches in connection with protection of human rights and today once again I repeat - we will take actions of pardon and amnesties. Necessary work is being carried out and offers are being prepared in President's Executive Apparatus. Today I still charge to accelerate preparation of offers. Today I once again commission to expedite these offers. I want to realize what I promised, I want to issue decrees about the pardon and to put forward the initiative about amnesty. It is necessary to prepare and present materials to me as soon as possible.

I consider that our commission should continue its work. The commission has not been set up only for holding the 50-th anniversary of this declaration. This commission should have constant character. Undoubtedly, the big solemn ceremony will also be held on December 10. Till now some conferences have been conducted. One of these days it will be conducted too. But it is not the only work, in other words, our work is not characterized by campaign. Marking the 50-th anniversary of the declaration, we declare the world that Azerbaijan, constructing the democratic, legal, secular state, is loyal to the Declaration of Human Rights, and will be loyal as well as in the future, and will carry out all actions ensuing from this declaration in Azerbaijan's territory.

I consider it is necessary to make the action plan about the future activity of the commission. Then we will consider and approve this action plan. These works will be continued in 1999 on the basis of this plan.

So, I suppose that today at the session of the commission we have discussed impending questions. Once again I charge to consider all put forward offers and to give me a report on it. Thank you.