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  • Feminist Peace Collective

Permanent state violence in the Kingdom of Oil and Millions


Dedicated to the protests in Soyudlu village of Gadabay


Soyudlu village, Gadabay 20 June 2023

Yesterday (June 20, 2023), the residents of Soyudlu village of Gadabay region tried to protest against the creation of an artificial lake to drain the contaminated water from the gold mines belonging to the ruling family. However, this protest, like any other protest in Azerbaijan, was suppressed by violence. Tear gas and batons were used against citizens. The so-called respect for the roles of “mother, elder woman” that the Azerbaijani state assigned to women was destroyed by the "glorious Azerbaijani police" using tear gas and truncheons against elderly women participants of the protest. At the same time, attempts of the Azerbaijani authorities to publicly portray the image of police as a protector and security provider, are also dismantled, consequently self-destroying the myths they have created. Because the demands of people seem very legitimate and there cannot be easily securitized, the brutal police violence against them explicitly reveals state violence.


What happened in Soyudlu village is not the first and only incident. If we look at the nearest period, it is one of the collective protests that have occurred almost every month since the beginning of 2023. Before that, on March 13, a protest related to water demand was held in Nabatkend village of Saatli, on April 13, a protest of taxi drivers in Baku, on June 2, a protest of the relatives of arrested religious persons, and on June 8, a protest related to the Tartar case. All these actions were prevented by violent methods.


However, especially in the case of happenings in Gadabay, the Azerbaijani public is outraged on social networks and has started speaking out. The fact that not only usual political activists but also "non-political" people began to raise their voices indicates mass public discontent against the incident. As in any authoritarian management system, the Azerbaijani state tries to ensure state power by non-violent means, although it silences society both by disciplinary power that creates fear and subjugation, and by keeping people in precarious and materially dependent positions. And it keeps overt violence on more invisible and personal levels. Therefore, the fact that people living in the kingdom of oil and millions continue to live in poverty and subjugation does not create enough collective power or anger to make them protest.


In Baku, workers are exploited by companies in various industries, and even the companies that oppress ordinary workers are closed and removed from the market so that the new authoritarian state capitalism and the monopoly of the ruling class can expand. In any periphery outside Baku, the peasants live as serfs (as subjects), having their land taken from their hands. And the serf has no right to object: neither to polluted nature, nor to dried up lakes, nor to rivers whose course is changed, nor to drought, nor to land taken from them, nor to chemical waste.


Soyudlu village, Gadabay 20 June 2023


It is precisely how the slightest protest leaves us with the scene we see today. The fear of breaking the ultra-stability in Azerbaijan makes the state respond to even the smallest and seemingly safe demands with violent means. The only response to spontaneous protests, which they are not particularly familiar with and cannot adapt to, is to intimidate and prevent the mass that may arise from this spontaneity at all costs. The paradox of this situation is that when the state's violence becomes more evident, the only way out for the population, who has no hope for anything, is turning into mass protests.


We look at these protests with hope and believe that change in Azerbaijan will be unexpected and will come from below. In addition to anger, what gives us hope is that in the autocracy we live in, there are still pockets of protest and unexpected disobedience. Such protests indicate that the violence in the country has reached intolerable levels and that the myths built by the authorities are doomed to gradually disintegrate. However, we do not rule out that the government will make an effort to pacify people's anger in the current small spark, to punish someone and for instance, restore the myth of the "good" police. After this small break, by returning back to their oppression, they will make the above-mentioned paradox inevitable. For now, despite promises that "everything will be better after the war", state violence continues.



Links:

[2] Gədəbəydə etiraz olub, polis müdaxilə edib https://www.azadliq.org/a/gedebey-etiraz/32467906.html

[3] Saatlıda: Maskalı polis "rezin güllə ilə oğlumu vurdu"https://www.bbc.com/azeri/articles/c51q93qrkqyo

[4] "Axşam evimizə çörək aparmaq istəyirik", Bakıda taksi sürücülərinin etirazı

[5] Dindarların aksiyası: “Mən indi necə yaşayım?” https://www.bbc.com/azeri/azerbaijan-65790045

[6] “Tərtər işi” ilə bağlı Bakıda etiraz: “Gəl bura, Prezident” https://www.bbc.com/azeri/azerbaijan-65850388


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