Azerbaijan’s New Musavat party announced a reward of almost $13,000 on Monday to anyone who chops off an ear of a writer, widely criticized for being too sympathetic towards Armenians in his recent novel.
Respected writer Akram Aylisli has earlier been stripped of his pension and state awards for “insulting the dignity of his country” in a novel headlined “Stone Dreams.” The book offers a sympathetic depiction of Armenians, including scenes of violence committed by Azeris against Armenians.
Hafiz Hajiyev, leader of the center-left New Musavat party which holds two seats in parliament, was quoted as saying by the Turan news agency that Aylisli portrayed as “savages” more than 4.5 million of people of the West Azerbaijani descent and so the party decided that his ear must be cut off “because any other punishment will be too mild for him.”
“Last week we had a discussion and made that decision. It is firm and cannot be revoked,” Hajiyev said. “Members of the party’s youth wing were charged with enforcing it. The one who manages to do it will get a bonus of 10,000 manat [over $12,700].”
No comment from Azerbaijan’s law enforcers is available so far, although the republic’s human rights and legal experts said the statement is a clear “incitement to commit a grave crime” and thus constitutes a criminal offense.
Aylisli, in his turn, called for police protection saying that he might otherwise leave the country.
“In any adequate country, those who make such statements would be prosecuted. But in our country, law-enforcers have turned a blind eye to this person’s absurd statements for many years,” the writer said. “If law enforcement bodies make no effective action, my family and I will be forced to leave the country.”
The presidential administration, however, has clearly stated its disapproval for the writer, saying that the nation should “display public scorn for such people” and comparing him to Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, who outraged his government by calls to recognize the genocide of Armenians.
“Pamuk said those words aiming to win the Nobel Prize, but he lost his fatherland as a result. It looks like Akram Aylisli also wants a Nobel Prize,” Ali Hasanov, who heads Azerbaijani presidential administration’s political department, told the APA news agency.