Richard Kauzlarich: “Ismayilli rioting is an indication of popular concern about continuing human rights abuses and corruption in Azerbaijan”2013 January 26 ( Saturday ) 10:49:48
Richard D. Kauzlarich, a veteran American diplomat (ret), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to Baku (1994-1997), commented on current situation in Azerbaijan, following the two days of rioting in Ismayilli, in an interview with TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent.
"The rioting in Ismayilli -- as the rioting in Guba last year -- is an indication of popular concern about continuing human rights abuses and corruption in Azerbaijan… It is similar to incidents in China where local abuses and corruption have led to similar riots”, Amb. Kauzlarich, who currently serves as a Deputy Director of Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at the George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, said.
Violence, he underscored, “serves no one's interests in Azerbaijan”.
Both the government and the people need to address -- through open, free discussion and a democratic electoral process -- why the rule of law does not apply equally to everyone in Azerbaijan.
“A serious public dialogue aimed at removing the underlying tensions originating in abuse of power is necessary if this kind violence is to be prevented in the future”, the Ambassador emphasized.
“People have asked me if this current situation in Azerbaijan reminds me of the Arab Spring in other countries. My answer is: I do not know…,” he said, adding, “What I do know -- and the experience in these other countries has borne this out -- is if the underlying concerns and needs of the people for equal treatment under the law and protection of basic human rights continue unaddressed then the result will be more violence and growing social tensions”.
For Ambassador Kauzlarich, this “must also be seen in the context of restrictions on the freedom of the media and the unacceptable physical assault on opposition political figures in Lankaran”.
“As President Aliyev noted in his recent CNN interview in Davos, Azerbaijan has enjoyed remarkable economic success in recent years. Now it is time to match this success in the area of social improvement and observance of international standards of human rights," he emphasized.
In Washington DC, the officials remained skeptical to comment on Ismayilli instability and the US Embassy’s warning for American citizens in Azerbaijan regarding the upcoming rallies.
Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson of the State Department has been asked whether the Department “has anything more specific to talk about the violence in Azerbaijan, police response?”, during the daily press conference, January 25.
“Let me take that one… and we’ll get to you”, she promised to the reporters.