By Anar Farajov
Societies create the tyrants. Tyrant by definition is a ruler with power not limited by laws or administrative bodies. The only thing which makes them tyrants is the absolute power they possess over their people. They themselves could be well-educated, reasonable; some might even be decent and honest men, full of good intentions and plans how they are going to improve the life in the countries they own. It usually does not last that long though. History either makes them fall as heroes or corrupts them quick and fast.
All by himself, Ilham Aliyev too could be a decent person, for all I know. OK, to be frank, I am not so sure about that one, but let us give him a benefit of a doubt.
At least he is not bombing his own cities, like a couple of his former and present colleagues have recently done. He throws his political opponents in jail under falsified charges, harasses their family members, but hey - that’s what absolute power is all about: you can’t afford a strong opposition. And if he and his family steal all that they can take from his impoverished country and build golden fairytale palaces overlooking Persian Gulf beaches - it too is totally understandable. Not many people can withhold themselves from doing that in a situation of a total lack of control. People are human, you know. If no one is there to check, you can't resist putting up a golden toilet in your bathroom. It is shiny, does not cost any hard earned money to you and looks really cool.
People, media, parties - actually the absence of those - make tyrants. Lack of resistance makes tyrants. Lack of organized groups, lack of loudly expressed public opinion makes tyrants. When this resistance is obvious, when people in the country are aware of their rights and demand them with will power and defiance, tyrants learn. They learn really fast. Those who don't - eventually end up dragged, beaten and torn into pieces by angry crowds, or if they are lucky, escape with bits of the treasures they stole on a helicopter, disgraced and cowering for their lives.
And other dictators watch the bloody pulp of their former dinner mates sitting on their golden toilets, with a cold desperate feeling creeping inside them, trying to convince themselves that this shameful fate will never befall them, that they have been way more open to compromise and political discussion, or that they know better how to rule their people.
Societies and communities that don’t care about and don’t believe in change - that is what gives the rulers their absolute power and sense of impunity. People who think that sometime, somehow a savior will appear on a white horse and miraculously build for them a blooming modern democracy out of the backwards regime they live in now, and then they will come and join, when everything will be ready for them to use and enjoy.
If thousands and thousands came to any public square in Baku, like we saw recently in Moscow, and demanded their rights, the way Azerbaijani government runs the country would have been changed. Even if the president ended up staying in power, he would have to act differently – that you can be assured of.
Of course, Baku is not Moscow and it might be a long way for us to get even to that level of political awareness and activity in the society. But we can start right now: by joining those who already speak out, organize, and act. We can express ourselves publicly, for once defeating the misery of fear, indifference and hopelessness inside us. We can write, petition, meet, host and attend rallies and forums, like the one I am going to this Wednesday on Dec 21 in Washington, DC - a discussion titled “Azerbaijan: Growing Voices of Dissent” held by Azerbaijani-Americans for Democracy.
It is not easy to bring reforms to a stagnated country. It will take time, work and effort from most of us. But it is upon us to meet this challenge of time. It is our country, our future, our dignity and thus – it is our responsibility to take charge of it.