On a warm autumn day in early November, pedestrians in downtown Bishkek met an unusual sight: a 500-strong crowd of hijab-sporting female Muslim activists riding bicycles, heading to a state hospital to donate blood. “Passersby were in shock,” laughed Jamal Frontbek kyzy, whose organization Mutakallim helped organize the event. “We wanted to dispel stereotypes.
In the five weeks since incumbent Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was reelected for a third consecutive term, the authorities have cracked down on a prominent NGO, an opposition newspaper, and several bloggers, journalists, and academics in what Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen has branded “[a] ruthless and relentless attack on any dissenting voices in the media.”
The December 26 trial of arrested Turkish journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener has pushed a shadowy organization known as the Gülen movement to the forefront of public attention in Turkey. The group’s influence has long been an open secret. Now, its weight is being felt at a time when the country’s democratic credentials are increasingly being called into question.
Facebook may be best known in Azerbaijan as a tool for mobilizing government critics, but a new generation of Azerbaijani civil society activists is relying on the social networking site for quite a different purpose -- promoting animal welfare.
In only six months, the Baku-based Helping Stray Animals group has grown from a few isolated animal activists to a group of thousands.