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Protection of historical-cultural and natural heritage in Azerbaijan and activities of NGOs (Aytekin Imranova)
PROTECTION OF HISTORIC-CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE IN AZERBAIJAN AND ACTIVITIES OF NGO-S Aytekin IMRANOVA (Azerbaijan) [email_address] [email_address]
Current situation *** analysis of the situation *** NGO activities *** In need of support
A nalysis of the situation <ul><li>In Azerbaijan in the sphere of HISTORICAL CULTURAL HERITAGE protection, like in many other sphers, there is a legislative basis, even though it is not entirely perfect, that sufficiently covers areas at stake. However, like in all the posttotalitarian and authoritarian societies, enforcement of the laws on the due level remains a problem since the constitutional state has not been established yet and the rule of law has not been ensured. All the issues at stake are officially and non officially solved based on the will and taste of those close to the leading elite. Legal procedure and mechanisms do not work. </li></ul>
<ul><li>On the one hand, this leads to the non professional and scientifically blank, banal and tasteless works, so called restoration, that grossly interferes with the appearance of the monuments and lead to anarchyc repair works. On the other hand, absence of the control and poor administration with regards to the money allocated for the restoration from the state budget lead to the breakdown. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The society, as in many other areas, is removed from the decision making and public opinion does not count. Azerbaijan, who joined the Aarhus convention, is in breach of a number of the articles enshrined in it: enlightment of the society regarding environmental issues, taking part in the decision making etc. Within the last 3- 5 years the regular protests staged by NGOs, mass media and citizens against mass distruction of the monuments and green areas are not taken into consideration. Materials published in mass media, protest action of the NGOs, actions staged by the citizens do not change the situation. </li></ul><ul><li>More mass events are prevented by the law on freedom of assembly that violates citizens constitutional right to freedom of assembly. According to this law, neither political parties nor NGOs can hold mass actions and other events in the downtown areas. Baku city Executive Authority either prohibits the actions or leaves hundreds of requests unanswered. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Problems of transparency that can be attributed to all the spheres of public and policital life also exist in these sphere </li></ul>
*** NGO activities <ul><li>Existance of many problems leads us to the conclusion that there is a gross crisis in our region in the protection of historic cultural and natural heritage. In spite of the protests this situation lasts. </li></ul><ul><li>In these circumstances, out of necessity to interfere to existing problems by the initiative of several organisations the NGO network has been established. More than 30 organisations by their signatures and seals, about 100 public organisations by means of their coalitions joined this movement with different activity rate of course. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Since the roundtables and press conferences, telephone calls and oral requests in 2006 did not give the effect required the chairmen and activists of about 30 organisations sent writtent information requests to the relevant state authorites with regards to 12 monuments. Despite the law indicates that the answer should be given within 7 days period the majority of the authorities did not reply. In these circumstances these individuals filed a complaint with Baku city Sabail District Court on the violation of their right to obtain information and restoration of their cultural rights and another complaints with 4 other distrcit courts in Baku for the restoration of their right to live in a healthy environment. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
<ul><li>During these events the hearing were delayed on various bureaucractic grounds, the complaints were rejected on illegal grounds. However thanks to the persistance of the activists and mass media participation and support the hearings started. </li></ul><ul><li>The representatives of the defendand in most cases did not attend the hearings with no written or oral justifications. </li></ul><ul><li>The defendant organisaiton Baku city Executive Authority did not present a single order with regards to the demolition of about 30 buildings located in the territory of the “The OLD CITY” historical cultural reserve, which is included in UNESKOs world cultural heritage list. In spite of the fact that the Court admiited plaintiffs arguments, the decision of the court stated that the complaint will not be satisfied. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The plaintiff applied to the high instance courts against this decision accordingly. </li></ul><ul><li>All these events were covered by the mass media. More than 15 newspapers, 4 information agencies, 5 web portals and 3 TV chanells shared the inforamtion with the public. </li></ul><ul><li>Bureaucratic barriers reached such a level that in spite of 3 month period allocated to the Appeal Court to review the appeal it took the Court 7 months during which it lost our file. Only after we complained to the Judicial Legal Council the file was found. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Both cases were filed with the the Supreme Court, the highest court instance </li></ul><ul><li>Currently the cases are pending and the struggle continues. </li></ul><ul><li>The case regarding the right to live in the healthy environment has been filed with the European Court for Human Rights. </li></ul><ul><li>The case regarding the cultural rights is with the Supreme Court. </li></ul><ul><li>Meanwhile the monuments are being demolished </li></ul>
<ul><li>Currently the NGOs are conducting monitoring of those monuments that are officially under the protection of the state in order to identify the damage posed to the cultural and historical heritage and to prepare a report accordingly. </li></ul><ul><li>Currently under the goal to set up a new winter park in the centre of the city those buildings that are in the list of the monuments are being demolished. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
<ul><li>*** In need of support </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Azerbaijani NGOs are in strong need of the international support. Otherwise, nothing will be left on the territory of stone legend, underground labirint city of Baku that has more than 5 thousand years of history other than iron concrete buildings. </li></ul><ul><li>Baku is included in the list of the areas of ancient settlements Beneath Baku the bigger city sleeps. Escalators and buldozer machines are destroying the spieces that can shed light on many historical events. </li></ul><ul><li>Time is ripe to act to save Baku </li></ul>