Our Analytics 30 september — 17:23

Washington has new targets to attack Azerbaijan (On the eve of information storm)

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BY MUSHFIQ ALASGARLI, CHAIRMAN OF JOURNALISTS TRADE UNION

In the first part of the article about the growing ideological pressure of the West on Azerbaijan lately, the fundamental factors have already been given. However, attempts to toughly influence the policy pursued by our state are not limited to this.

Thus, the House of Representatives of the US Congress recently proposed to amend Azerbaijan-related amendments to National Defense Authorization Act. Of course, the amendments are directed against the political and economic stability of the country. The amendments were proposed by Tony Cárdenas, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman -- representatives from California, by the way, the place of compact residence of Armenians in the United States.

Congress turns its back on Azerbaijan

From the proposed amendments, it follows that Azerbaijan allegedly attacked Armenia in September 2020. It is also said that Turkey and Azerbaijan used foreign mercenaries during the 44-day war and that Azerbaijan used prohibited weapons and ammunition during the hostilities. Another baseless assertion is that Azerbaijan allegedly did not release prisoners of war and killed thousands of peaceful Armenians during the war.

In addition to the three authors of the anti-Azerbaijani amendments, they were supported by 13 more congressmen, seven of whom represent the state of California. Considering that 10 out of 16 MPs are from the zone of influence of Armenian voters, it is quite possible to regard this event as an Armenian provocation undertaken by the efforts of the Armenian lobby of the United States. However, other issues on the agenda, synchronous with this action, open up the field for other versions as well. The fact is that not only congressmen make such unfounded and biased statements. US Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy, for example, raises the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for the resumption of mediation by the OSCE Minsk Group. Adding that this statement is not her personal opinion, but also the position of Secretary of State Blinken. 'The United States is doing everything it can to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has repeatedly voiced the position of the American side,' she says.

And Lynne Tracy faces it...

Statements of such content are also heard from another western country -- France. Like the United States, France declares the Karabakh conflict unfinished and wants to raise the issue of the region's status. Paris is interested in the revival of the failed Minsk Group and in obtaining a special status for the Armenians living in Azerbaijan. French Ambassador to Yerevan Jonathan Lacôte agreed with Lynne Tracy. In an interview with the Armenian service of Radio Liberty, he noted that the Statement of November 10 did not cover all issues. 'In particular, the provision on the release of prisoners of war is not being implemented at all,' he said.

Despite the protests of the Azerbaijani side, the US ambassador repeated the same thing three times over the past two weeks. Apparently, the United States and France, like 30 years ago, are still hovering in the clouds, not wanting to condescend to earthly reality.

West's new campaign

The fact that Western countries have begun to spin up another round of pressure is more than an obvious fact. Along with government agencies, reactionary media and 'human rights' organisations with the epithet 'international' in front of their names took part in this campaign. They use a wide range of accusations to force Azerbaijan to do as they see fit. And in the forefront of the prosecutors are familiar faces -- the media, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in the West.

However, let us return to the statements of the aforementioned congressmen Tony Cárdenas, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman and consider one of them. 'The government of Azerbaijan is holding up to 200 Armenians -- captives, hostages and detainees, distorting their status in order to justify its actions,' these figures say. They base their speculations on reports from Human Rights Watch and the Institute for Human Rights Research at Columbia University.

That is, a strange carousel is spinning: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders slander, manipulating numbers and arguments, and Congress then refers to them. The long-term practice of denigrating a particular country, meanwhile, testifies that all such organisations have the same and one-sided approach to the problem they are promoting. However, this is by no means surprising, since they are all coordinated from one centre, which changes only depending on the geography and the situation. And all these 'human rights activists' equally close their eyes to the violation of the principles of democracy in France, the USA, Armenia and other useful states, that is, the countries that finance them, while in the unwanted countries, that is those that simply do not pay attention to them, they manage to fabricate an everyday trivial incident as a supposedly flagrant fact of violation of the rights of citizens. If everything were different, instead of looking for violations in Azerbaijan, which is thousands of kilometres away, they would control the observance of human and civil rights a hundred metres from their workplaces. In Paris and Washington, for example, there is a lot of work for them, but they are not interested in it.

Here are some examples. Recently it became known that French President Emmanuel Macron has sued the owner of the Paris gallery, where his photographs were exhibited, and the journalist who photographed him. And this is not the first time -- he filed a similar claim three years ago (https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20170815-macron-sues-photojournalist-invasion-privacy). Macron has already gone down in history as a president who opposes freedom of speech and expression, and at the same time, democratic values. Practical measures to limit them were taken most of all during his presidency.

They stopped believing in Macron

Why does Paris need the 'March of Freedom'?

In November 2020, the Freedom March took place in Paris in defence of democratic values, freedom of speech and expression, but the main purpose of the march was to prevent the adoption of the Global Security Law and the National Police Program. The action was announced by the national media organisation of France -- SNJ (National Trade Union of Journalists), other communities joined it, for example SNJ-CGT, CFDT. And the European Press Freedom Centre, the International Federation of Journalists and the Media Freedom Index supported its organisers. The march brought together nearly 10,000 representatives of the media, NGOs and social media users.

In the opinion of the journalistic community, the draft laws discussed at the French parliament are aimed at restricting freedom of speech, or rather, at immediate silencing of journalists. Created in the context of 'New Security Challenges for France,' these bills completely contradict freedom of the media and freedom of speech. For example, according to their provisions, it will be considered a crime to photograph or record police officers during mass events, rallies, and protest demonstrations. A special ban will be imposed on the broadcast of shots of violence during the dispersal of rallies. Moreover, this kind of taboo applies not only to users of social networks, but also to representatives of professional media. The law will make it possible to arrest, detain or sue any journalist who has filmed or photographed a police operation. Violators can be fined up to 45,000 euros or even sentenced to a year in prison.

And what? Did the Macron government heed the protests of the media community and decided to withdraw the bills? Far from it! The Freedom March participants were greeted by police with truncheons and tear gas, hundreds of protesters were injured and arrested (https://europeanjournalists.org/.../france-concerns.../).

Discouraged representatives of international journalistic organisations tried to solve the problem at a meeting with French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, but the head of law enforcement was adamant and simply pushed them out of his office. (https://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2020/11/27/france-tramples-on-press-freedom/).

Freedom march in Paris usually ends with street fighting

The number of news items in this context is in the hundreds. And the conclusion is, and this clearly demonstrates -- there are enough facts. The conclusion is clear -- in recent years in the European Union, including France, there has been a tendency to restrict freedom of speech and expression, as well as democratic values. Although national and international organiыations try to resist and hinder this process, they do it poorly. And yet none of such shameful facts made it into the daily news feeds, but also in the reports of Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, CPJ or IMS. On the contrary, France, as usual, is presented to the world as one of the countries with the highest level of freedom of speech and opinion.

If the silence of these 'rating organizations' was known only in France, then such an attitude would be understandable. It can be assumed that the location of the headquarters of Reporters Without Borders in Paris obliges it to unconditionally accept local conditions. But 'Reporters' and their network are just as supportive of other countries, for example, the same Armenia. Events in this country that are unattractive with regard to freedom of speech are just as carefully hushed up, and are not reflected either in situational statements or in annual reports. Meanwhile, in August this year, the head of the Armenian Centre for Freedom of Information, Shushan Doydoyan, made a statement that the conditions for accrediting media workers in state bodies are becoming less and less democratic, and the way to state bodies, especially parliament, is now practically closed for independent journalists. And although officials attribute this to a factor of national security, in reality, the new rules for media employees are not substantiated. (https://news.am/arm/news/660773.html // https://www.rferl.org/a/armenia-journalists-obstructed-parliament/31429031.html)

About Armenia, either nothing, or good...

Earlier, before Dodoyan, the chairman of the Union of Journalists of Armenia Satik Seyranyan expressed her protest against the infringement of freedom of speech, media and the Internet. But don't look for information about this on the Reporters Without Borders website. It is not there. The same approach is taken by Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other 'international champions of free speech.' There is deathly silence regarding France, the United States and Armenia, while Azerbaijan, Turkey and other 'target countries' are being bombarded with accusations. These 'human rights' organisations have specific goals and objectives, more precisely, specific homework -- they are partial only to individual countries and arrange their campaigns of condemnation at the slightest incident only in them. The goal of the 'human rights defenders' is not at all to eliminate the consequences of the recorded violation or restore the rights of the victim, their intention is to discredit certain countries and force them to accept the demands of the sponsors and patrons of 'Reporters' and others like them. How it is happening with Azerbaijan now, as discussed in the previous article. Fiction, speculation and innuendo are the basis of the accusatory campaigns of Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders against our country. (https://virtualaz.org/uzbeuz/192435). Those interested can see the link.

This is the atmosphere that reigns in the Armenian parliament... Washington and Paris don't care

In March this year, Freedom House published the so-called Media Freedom Index, and in September, a report on Internet freedom. According to the report, Azerbaijan with 35 points is among the countries where the Internet is not free from the influence of the state. But Armenia with 71 points is considered a country with free Internet. The organisation took the same position in a report published in March: Armenia is characterised as a positive country in terms of ensuring freedom of speech and expression, and Azerbaijan as a country where all these principles are almost prohibited.

In recent days, 'Reporters' have been especially active and just in batches have issued their 'reports and statements' about the persecution of bloggers and users of social networks in Azerbaijan. Anti-Azerbaijani initiatives in Congress, statements by the US and French ambassadors in Armenia, carbon-copy reports of Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders... Is this a coincidence?

NGOs and mass media as a tool of pressure from the West

Generally speaking, I am opposed to judging international organisations in general on the example of Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders. The egregious example of the Freedom March in Paris shows that there are many organisations that uphold their principles and faithfully carry out their mission. They really help to ensure the protection of human rights, freedom of speech, expression and, in general, the development of democratic values. But, unfortunately, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and others, acting quite unitedly in their insinuations, to put it mildly, cast a shadow on those who honestly carry out their activities, distort their image, and undermine the credibility of the human rights movement as a whole. Based solely on their own interests, they range from small manipulations to interference in 'geopolitical games.'

Take, for example, the revolutionary movement that emerged in Egypt in 2011 in the wake of democratisation and quickly spread throughout the Middle East. Although the Muslim Brotherhood was at the forefront of this process, the so-called 'revolutionary infrastructure' and direct funding from Washington nevertheless played a key role there. Egyptian security forces arrested 21 US citizens after ransacking the offices of US NGOs revealing plans for a 'revolution,' protocols of separation of duties, and even documents about Egypt's future. As it turned out, there were even maps of the future division of Egypt into several parts, including the state of Nubia in the south and Coptic Christian entity in the east. The question is, what is the relationship of NGOs to such movements and transformations?

Similar trappings in the hands of NGOs appeared before, say, during the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, confirming the use of local and international NGOs and the media as tools in political technologies and colour revolution strategies.

History is silent about how and who prepared slogans for the Egyptians

All this indisputably indicates that as soon as the interests of the Americans in the zone of strategic interests are threatened, the 'principles' and loudness of NGO-satellites and the same mass media are sharpened. So-called actions against violations of freedom of speech, expression, conscience and human rights are being carried out against the countries targeted by them. The goal is invariable -- to confront the national governments with the fact of all kinds of violations of the principles of democracy, intimidate with obstruction and force them to make concessions.

The United States has established a full-fledged government mechanism to ensure the implementation of such programs. And in Europe there are hundreds of 'national NGOs' and international organisations, whose activities are coordinated from Washington, and the tasks they perform are also dictated from across the ocean. These satellites located in Europe and controlled from America were used to destabilise Azerbaijan. The campaigns implemented on the eve of and during the first European Games in Azerbaijan are a vivid example of such a policy.

Please note: Article XIX is ranked first among the NGOs that the UK represents to the world as an international organisation. As a British NGO, this organisation implements projects abroad, including in Azerbaijan, influencing the institutions of civil society. In the period from 2012 to 2015, during the Eurovision Song Contest and the first European Games in Azerbaijan, Rebecca Vincent played the first violin at Article XlX.

Rebecca has come. And just as abruptly left

Moreover, this very Rebecca is a US citizen, although she serves at a British NGO and worked at the US Embassy in Azerbaijan. Later, as a representative of Article XlX, she became the coordinator of one of the largest anti-Azerbaijani campaigns -- the International Cooperation Group on Azerbaijan, which operated in 2012, and one of the ardent activists of the Sport for Human Rights coalition, created in 2015. Under the leadership of these coalitions, an unprecedented anti-Azerbaijani propaganda campaign was launched in the European media. 'Activists of Azerbaijani NGOs' in rural shoes and even without incomplete secondary education unexpectedly gained access to the grandiose world publications -- The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, Deutsche Welle and other influential media, and turned into heroes of European politics. We do not claim that these media are directly influenced by Article XlX or Rebecca Vincent's network, but they have readily accepted and published 'hot facts' from them. That is, there was a well-functioning mechanism for delivering defamatory information.

For example, during the European Games, Emma Hughes, an employee of Platform London, was sent to Baku to coordinate a provocative protest action planned by Rebecca Vincent's network in our capital. When she was detained at the Baku airport due to lack of documents, she introduced herself as a European representative of the African newspaper Red Pepper and even showed her press card. During the investigation, it turned out that Hughes was one of the activists of Amnesty International and Platform London. Rebecca Vincent's network described the incident in The Guardian as follows: 'A journalist who came to Baku to cover sports events was detained at the airport.'

And then there was Emma Hughes

The US emissary Rebecca Vincent also managed to mobilise human rights organisations in Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and some other European countries, including Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, IMS, etc. to conduct a total anti-Azerbaijani campaign in the Western media. But the US media and civil society institutions acted exclusively as observers. In other words, the United States did not drive this process directly, but through its resources in Europe.

When investigating the financial sources of national civil society institutions and international organisations that joined the anti-Azerbaijani campaign at that time, it turned out that they are directly connected with American donors. Or rather, they are related to the US State Department through USAID.

It was also revealed that the head of the Baku office of the US National Democratic Institute, Alex Grigorievs, out of the kindness of his heart, donated $2 million to the project to discredit the Azerbaijani authorities. The flexible measures taken by the Azerbaijani state made it possible to quickly reveal the true intentions and actions of Western emissaries.

The United States has the ability to influence Europe not only through the NGO sector, but also through intergovernmental organisations, especially in human rights institutions. For example, the OSCE has become an effective tool for manipulating by Washington. In particular, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Media Office are controlled by the United States, and their leaders are either appointed from Washington or coordinated with Washington. The behaviour of Daniel Boyen, the head of the US mission to the OSCE, towards Alex Shahtakhtinsky, the organisation's project coordinator in Azerbaijan, in 2015 became one of the obvious facts confirming this point of view. And Nils Muižnieks, at that time the PACE Commissioner for Human Rights, although he was Latvian by nationality, was born in Los Angeles into a family of Latvian immigrants. He lived his entire adult life in America. He kept in touch with his historical homeland since 1992, and from 1992 to 1995 he was the director of the Latvian branch of the Soros Foundation. In 2015, Muižnieks became famous for his harsh speeches against Azerbaijan and open attacks on the eve of the 1st European Games in tandem with David Kae, a US citizen and rapporteur of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

There was also Muižnieks

History repeats itself: what and how will happen this time?

During the first European Games, the United States had reasons for such an all-out attack on Azerbaijan. On February 18, 2015, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland arrived in Baku and met with President Ilham Aliyev. As a result of the meetings, she did not achieve her goals. And immediately after that, the anti-Azerbaijani campaign resumed. The first European Games were simply an excuse to try to defame Baku, and American and European non-governmental organisations and the media launched a massive attack on a single country.

It was in 2015 that it finally became clear that the United States fully controls the leading human rights and international organisations. This influence allows Washington to organise an 'attack' on any country and its government in a short time.

It is already obvious today that the US and the West have launched a new campaign of pressure on Azerbaijan. Additional mechanisms are involved. This is evidenced by the statements of the US Congress and the US ambassador to Armenia. Reports from Western NGOs and media, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders are also part of the unfolding campaign. What are its true goals? We will return to this soon...

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