Azerbaijan: The Future Azerbaijan Party (FAP), including leadership, activities, and office locations; information on membership cards, including description and designated signing authority; treatment of members by authorities (2014-March 2017) [AZE105774.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview

Information on the Future Azerbaijan Party (FAP) was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Azer Press, an Azerbaijani news agency (Factiva n.d.), reports that the Future Azerbaijan Party (FAP) [Gələcək Azərbaycan Partiyası GAP] was founded on 20 December 2013 (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014). The same source reported in December 2013 that the party was founded by former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliyev, former Member of Parliament Huseyn Abdullayev, and former Minister of Health Ali Insanov (Azer Press 23 Dec. 2013a). However, in 2014, Azer Press cited Agasif Shakiroglu, the FAP "Chairman of the Organizing Committee," as stating during a press conference on 30 January 2014, that he "rejected" the idea that Insanov and Guliyev were "behind the new party" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014).

Sources indicate that Agasif Shakiroglu was the leader of the youth coalition Hedef [Hadaf], and that he was detained in August 2009 for avoiding military service (IRFS 3 Aug. 2009; EurasiaNet 4 Aug. 2009) or for "desertion from the military" (RFE/RL 3 Aug. 2009). Sources further report that Shakiroglu claimed the detention was for political reasons (RFE/RL 3 Aug. 2009; EurasiaNet 4 Aug. 2009; IRFS 3 Aug. 2009) and that he had never been called up for military service (IRFS 3 Aug. 2009).

Sources report that Rasul Guliyev [Guliev] is a former speaker of parliament (Azer Press 23 Dec. 2013b) or of the assembly (PHW 2015, 100). The same sources further report that he has lived in the US since 1996 (Azer Press 23 Dec. 2013b; PHW 2015, 100), following his resignation as speaker of the assembly in 1996 (PHW 2015, 100). Political Handbook of the World (PHW) reports that he was one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADP), which was established in February 2000 and which was highly critical of the regime, after which the government accused ADP supporters of planning a coup on behalf of Guliyev, and issued an arrest warrant for Guliyev (PHW 2015, 100). The same source indicates that he attempted to run in the November 2005 assembly elections, but his plane was denied landing rights in Azerbaijan (PHW 2015, 100). According to PHW, after friction within the ADP continued, Guliyev announced plans to launch the "Open Society Party" (PHW 2015, 100). Azer Press notes that the Open Society Party was founded in 2007 and Guliyev became its leader, but that he left the party on 13 October 2013 (Azer Press 23 Dec. 2013b).

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports that Insanov was a founder of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (RFE/RL 17 Oct. 2016). Sources report that he was arrested along with other senior officials the night before the October 2005 parliamentary elections and charged with plotting a coup but that these charges were later dropped (RFE/RL 17 Oct. 2016; IRFS 10 Oct. 2016) and were "replaced with economic offenses" (IRFS 10 Oct. 2016). RFE/RL reports that he went on trial on charges including bribery and abuse of position in 2007 (RFE/RL 17 Oct. 2016). Sources report that Insanov was sentenced to 11 years in jail (RFE/RL 17 Oct. 2016; IRFS 10 Oct. 2016).

Turan Information Agency (Turan), a Baku-based independent news agency (Turan n.d.), describes Huseyn Abdullayev as a former Azeri businessman and a "representative of the Nakhchivan clan, who actively participated in the rise of Heydar Aliyev to power in the early 90s" (Turan 1 Dec. 2014). The source further reports that "his relations with the authorities began to deteriorate after 2003" and "he was one of those, who financed the 'opposition publications' that criticized the government and some state officials" (Turan 1 Dec. 2014). The same source adds that after he was involved in a "fight" in parliament in March 2007, "his parliamentary mandate" was taken away and "a criminal case filed against him," and that he spent some time in prison (Turan 1 Dec. 2014). After his release he left the country and "received the status of political emigrant" (Turan 1 Dec. 2014). A December 2013 Azer Press article describes Huseyn Abdullayev as "a former member of parliament" and similarly indicates that he "obtained the status of a political emigrant in Germany recently" (Azer Press 23 Dec. 2013a).

Sources further report that Abdullayev was wanted by the Azerbaijani government in 2013 for tax evasion (Turan 9 July 2013; Azer Press 9 July 2013; APA 26 June 2013). Turan further reports that Abdullayev claimed the charges were for political reasons (Turan 9 July 2013). The same source indicates that he wrote a song entitled "'Susma' (Do not be Silent) calling to fight injustice in the country," and that "[a]fter the song was posted on YouTube, the authorities announced Abdullayev internationally wanted" (Turan 9 July 2013).

1.1 Location of Headquarters and Offices

Information on the location of the FAP's headquarters and other offices was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Sources cite Agha [Aga] Abdullaoglu, a member of the "Organizing Committee for the creation of a new party," as stating in January 2014 that the party had "established organizing committees in 11 districts of Baku" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014) or had "managed to acquire offices in 11 regions of Azerbaijan" (Vestnik Kavkaza 30 Jan. 2014). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Mandate and Activities

Azer Press cites Abdullaoglu as saying that "the need to create a new political part[y] is explained by the weak activity of the opposition, with the exception of several parties, as well as [the] socio-political situation in the country and in the region" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014). The same source cites Shakiroglu as saying that "a new strategy and tactics, and new techniques are required" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014). Sources further report that Shakiroglu criticized opposition politics in Azerbaijan, noting that the previous 20 years had resulted in "prolonged failure" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014) or "the impairment of Azerbaijani society" (Vestnik Kavkaza 30 Jan. 2014). Vestnik Kavkaza, a "daily news website covering the traditions and contemporary life … [in] the Caucasus region" (Vestnik Kavkaza n.d.), further reports that Azeri-Press Agency (APA), an Azerbaijan-based independent information agency (APA n.d.), cites Shakiroglu as saying that "[w]e will work towards the revival of the democratic camp, as well as strengthening the role of youth in the social and political life of the country" (Vestnik Kavkaza 30 Jan 2014).

Azer Press further cites Abdullaoglu as saying that the FAP "will mainly rely on youth," and cites Shakiroglu as saying that "the party will consist mainly of young people" and that "[b]y 2015, [the party] will create a large student movement" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014). The same source notes that Shakiroglu stated the party would demonstrate "integrity, determination, uncompromising [sic], lack of conformity" and would fight for the return of "persons in political emigration as well as the release of political prisoners" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Source cite Shakiroglu as stating that the FAP would be willing to cooperate with "the mainstream opposition parties" (Azer Press 30 Jan. 2014) or the "real and principled opposition parties" (Vestnik Kavkaza 30 Jan. 2014). In January 2016, sources report that the FAP joined an "Anti-Crisis" coalition of opposition parties (Report News Agency 4 Mar. 2016; BBC 3 Feb. 2016). According to the BBC, the following parties are members of the coalition in addition to FAP:

the CDP [Citizen and Development Party], the Great Azerbaijan Party (GAP), the Classic People's Front of Azerbaijan (CPFAP), the Independence Party, … the National Congress Party (NCP), the Liberal Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (LDPA),the People's Party of Azerbaijan (PPA), the Party of Intellectuals (PI), the Hope Party and the Worldwide Grey Wolf Party. (BBC 3 Feb. 2016).

According to Report News Agency, an Azerbaijani news agency providing information in Azerbaijani, Russian and English (Report News Agency n.d.), the coalition consists of the following parties in addition to the FAP:

Great Azerbaijan Party (GAP), Classic Popular Front Party (CPFP), Freedom Party, … National Congress Party (NCP), Azerbaijan Liberal Democratic Party (ALDP), Azerbaijan People's Party (APP), Aydinlar Party, Umid Party, Secular (Borzurd) Party (SBP), Development Party (CDP) and 'White Block' movement. (Report 4 Mar. 2016)

Further and corroborating information about the coalition could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Membership Procedures, Membership Cards, and Treatment of Party Members by Authorities

Information on membership procedures, including membership cards and who is authorized to sign them, as well as information on the treatment of party members by authorities, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Azeri-Press Agency (APA). 26 June 2013. "Former MP Huseyn Abdullayev Declared Wanted - Exclusive." [Accessed 17 Mar. 2017]

Azeri-Press Agency (APA). N.d. "About Company."[Accessed 17 Mar. 2017]

Azer Press. 30 January 2014. "New Party Created in Azerbaijan." (Factiva)

Azer Press. 23 December 2013a. "A New Opposition Party Is Established in Azerbaijan." (Factiva)

Azer Press. 23 December 2013b. "A Local Opposition Party Is Being Re-Organised." (Factiva)

Azer Press. 9 July 2013. "Former Azerbaijani MP Fails To Pay $2 Million in Taxes." (Factiva)

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 3 February 2016. BBC Monitoring Caucasus. "Azeri Minor Opposition Parties Set Up Economic 'Anti-Crisis' Coalition." (Factiva)

EurasiaNet. 4 August 2009. Mina Muradova. "Azerbaijan: Third Youth Activist Arrested." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Factiva. N.d. "Source Information: Azer Press (Azerbaijan)." (Factiva)

Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS). 10 October 2016. "Jailed Ex-Minister Ali Insanov Sentenced to 3-Month Pre-Trial Detention." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS). 3 August 2009. "Young Activist Agasif Shakiroglu Arrested." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Political Handbook of the World 2015 (PHW). 2015. "Azerbaijan." Edited by Tom Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Report News Agency. 4 March 2016. "Siyavush Novruzov: 'New Azerbaijan Party Does Not Avoid Any Discussion'." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Report News Agency. N.d. "About Agency." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 17 October 2016. "Jailed Former Azerbaijani Minister Hit with New Criminal Charges." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 3 August 2009. "Another Azerbaijani Youth Activist Detained." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Turan Information Agency (Turan). 1 December 2014. "Huseyn Abdullayev Accuses Authorities." (Factiva)

Turan Information Agency (Turan). 9 July 2013. "Taxes Ministry Reveals 'Illegal' New Building of Huseyn Abdullayev." (Factiva)

Turan Information Agency (Turan). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 17 Mar. 2017]

Vestnik Kavkaza. 30 January 2014. "New Political Party Appears in Azerbaijan." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Vestnik Kavkaza. N.d. "About." [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Future Azerbaijan Party [Gələcək Azərbaycan Partiyası]; Independent Journalist with Experience Covering Azerbaijan and Caucasus Region.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Factiva; Freedom House; The Guardian; Human Rights Watch; Reuters; US – Department of State; UN – Refworld.