Ahmad Shahidov, human rights defender and Head of Azerbaijani Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (AIDHR) gave an interview on the occasion of Youth Day on February 2
– Mr. Shahidov, firstly I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of Youth Day on February 2 and wish you success. As a young man, how would you assess the opportunities of modern Azerbaijani youth today?
Many thanks for your wish. I would like also to congratulate your and entire Azerbaijani youth and wish you a very long, happy, healthy life filled with joy. As you know Azerbaijan is a young country and it’s already 25 years that the country has obtained its independence. Re-gaining its independence in 1991 Azerbaijan made its name known in the political arena. If you inquire about Azerbaijan around the world everyone would characterize Azerbaijan as a center of sports, culture, and host country of groundbreaking events and our young people is the milestone of this strength.
Nowadays, Azerbaijani youth are among the favorites in the world due to their success in music, painting and other types. Hardly you can come across any country in the world where Azerbaijani youth does not study. This is manifestation of Azerbaijani growing potential and it’s investing in future generation.
Mr. Shahidov you frequently attend international events, conferences organized aboard. What is the current status of Azerbaijani youth in terms of their representing Azerbaijan in an international political arena, whether they represent their country properly?
Very interesting question because as with sport and culture, it is crucially important for the youth to represent Azerbaijan at the international political arena. During some critical moments politics prevails and supporting national interest and becoming fair voice of Azerbaijan turn to be significant. Over the last years I have attended series of conferences of PACE, OSCE, UNO and other organizations and make speech on Azerbaijan. I can assure you that endeavors made 10-15 years back yielded its positive results. I recall 2000 years, hundreds of Azerbaijani young people studied abroad on state account and today they are representing Azerbaijan in a high level.
As for instance, today young, vibrant representatives of Azerbaijan make speech at OSCE and PACE. Few days ago I have attended PACE winter session in Strasburg and I have to note remarkable efforts of young Azerbaijani representatives in terms of adoption of reports against Armenia. Tens of Azerbaijani young people represent Azerbaijan at governmental and non-governmental organizations in the USA and Europe. They have very good reputation in the countries they work which means appropriate representation of Azerbaijan.
Mr. Shahidov, you are also human rights defender. Today activists of youth organizations are imprisoned in Azerbaijan and they celebrate youth day as well. What is your attitude towards their imprisonment?
No Doubt, all of Azerbaijani youth mark Youth day and I congratulate all of them. Regardless of his or her political affiliation, citizenship and social class all young people are the citizens of Azerbaijan. I do not make any distinction among them, they should also understand that law evenly treats us and we are equal before law. Azerbaijan is a legal country and law regulates everything here. Irrelevance of his or her personality, position if he/she breaks the law should be brought into justice. If we have a look at recent developments in social and political processes in Azerbaijan we will see what I mean. As Mr. President noted recently in his speech, no one is immune and everyone should be brought into justice because of his/her illegal action. Those young people you mentioned stood against Azerbaijani legislation and law; therefore they are isolated from the society. As a human rights advocate I do want their being released, but they should take lesson and re-integrate into the society.
Mr. Shahidov, at present it’s very important for the young generation to grow up in the spirit of patriotism. Do you thing that Azerbaijani youth are capable of liberating occupied territories?
Azerbaijan is in a state of war and 20 percent of its territories are under occupation. Under the given circumstances, every young man should be solider of Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan is rapidly growing, young generation is developing day by day and its army is gaining power. Azerbaijan will continue its efforts to protect its fair stance as God stands by justice. In case war breaks out we will liberate occupied territories.