Aliyev Punishes Azeri Novelist for ‘Pro-Armenian’ Book

Akram Aylisli

BAKU (RFE/RL)—Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has stripped a prominent novelist of the title of “People’s Writer” as well as his presidentially awarded pension for writing a book that casts a sympathetic light on Armenians.

Azerbaijani media reported late on Thursday that the actions were taken against Akram Aylisli because of his novel “Stone Dreams,” which was printed in a popular Russian magazine last year.

The novel portrays brutal campaigns by his fellow Azerbaijanis against Armenians — including the notorious January 1990 pogrom in Baku in which Armenians were murdered by the dozens and expelled from the city. At the same time, Aylisli avoids portraying Armenians as aggressors and Azerbaijanis the victims.

Azerbaijani media quoted Aliyev’s decree, which said Aylisli was punished “for distorting facts in Azerbaijani history and insulting the feelings of Azerbaijani people.”

Aylisli told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service that the presidential decision was “unexpected” because his title and pension were awarded to him for his other works in the past.

Speaking to the service on January 31, Aylisli defended “Stone Dreams,” saying he felt it is his responsibility, as an Azerbaijani, to acknowledge his country’s role in the conflict. “This novel is a kind of message to Armenians living in Karabakh; in other words, to the Armenian citizens of Azerbaijan,” Aylisli said. “The message is this: Don’t think that we’ve forgotten all the bad things we’ve done to you. We accept that.

“You have also done bad things to us. It’s the job of Armenian writers to write about those bad things, about the [1992] Khojaly massacre.

“Maybe they’ve written about it already, maybe they will write about it in the future. I don’t know. Because it’s not possible for any people to commit such cruelties and not write about it. Don’t politicize these things.

“If Armenians continue to live in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, we have to live side by side. This novel is a message to them. Don’t be afraid. It’s not the end. We can live together.”

The novel prompted angry demonstrations in Baku last week, with angry crowds gathering outside Aylisli’s apartment block, shouting “Shame!” and setting photos of the author alight. Ali Ahmedov, the executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party, said Aylisli had dealt a “moral blow” to the country and even accused the writer of secretly being Armenian.

According to RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service, Azerbaijani lawmakers meeting on February 1 in parliament went so far as to call for a DNA test to determine Aylisli’s ethnic heritage. Others called for him to be stripped of his status as a state writer and even his citizenship.

Other pro-Aliyev critics have compared Aylisli to the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, the internationally celebrated author who has come under fire at home for comments related to the Ottoman-era massacre of ethnic Armenians, a taboo subject in Turkey.

Aylisli dismissed such criticism and accused Azerbaijani officials of exploiting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for their own political gain. “There are people who have made a fortune out of the sufferings of two people — Azerbaijanis and Armenians,” he told RFE/RL. “They’ve built careers, gotten rich, gotten good jobs [in the government].”

Aylisli, 75, graduated from the prestigious Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. He won appreciation for his focus on rural and provincial life, basing his pen name — Aylisli — on the name of his native village in Azerbaijan’s Ordubad region.


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  1. bigmoustache said:

    hey aylisli, do u see that hate being directed toward you for telling the truth? do u see how azeris overreact to anything armenian? they even asked u for a dna test….and you think were stupid enough to live in ‘azerbaijan” again? what the hell are you smoking?
    i dont care what else you say that is is “honest’ about azeri atrocities, artsakh will never again be under azerbaijan. that includes the surrounding regions. that is your “price tag” for imposing a war on our people and causing so much suffering. that is a buffer zone to prevent you from shelling our towns and cities again.

  2. ohannes said:

    Alive Dog soon or later Azerbaijan people will bit you and your family like a Dog
    remember Qaddafi and Saddam House your family destiny will be the same i
    guaranty you Alive Dog

  3. Hrant K. said:

    Shouldn’t h. aliev also make a DNA test too, make be he’s defending he “real” enemy i.e.
    azerbaijan!!! :) Surprise , surprise …

  4. Arto said:

    What a courageous man. What an intellectual. He is trying to end the circle of hate and he is ready to face the consequences from his fellow countrymen.

    Knowing that there are Azeri‘s like him, I am hopeful. BTW, he is right, we also need to come clean on Khojaly.

  5. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    No on can buy
    The heart of a poet
    All the earth populace
    Are born from his blood
    He feels he is a human…
    Like any one …
    Doesn’t care
    for religion
    for race
    for dermis
    He wants to prevails the truth
    No one can change a gem
    That was born in his genes…


  6. JOHN GONCUIAN said:

    Even the prominent novelist Akram Aylisli will be punished for writing the atrocities committed by the Azeris against Karabag Armenians, yes this is the Aliev’s way of rewarding the truth.The most corrupt president Aliev and his family have gotten billions from Azeri oil revenues, and to divert attention from this robbery the inbred and immoral Aliev will punish Akram Aylisli and anyone else who will bring the truth to light.Azeri people knowingly (Aliev’s corruption and lies) still support this idiot Aliev.

  7. Samuel Darbinian said:

    Mr Akram Aylisli as aprominent,professional writer is not a pro armenian writer, he is virtualy apro azari writer his pen is reflecting whatever it mirrors on his eyes.the facts as usual frightens azari bastard coward tyrant Elham Alieve & his cronies, Alieve is unable to see the facts,freedom of speach & justice, that is why he is terrorizing, prosecuting this honorable humanbeing. We need remember USSR famus writers prosecution such as Boris Pasternak, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn suferings sympathized all over the planet under cover human rights but only for political advacments.If Mr Akram Aylisi were citizen of Russia
    or China with seamilar case he should enjoyed such strong support, unfortunatiy Mr Aylisli is an azari citizen & azari thief tyrant leader bonds with international petrol Co’s so as usual all international human rights groups heads are on there arears cann’t see what is going on there.
    Mr Aylisli needs human right & international writers support, armenian writers & NGO’s have duty remind them, fullfil there human rights responsibilities for Mr Aylisli.

  8. Andranik said:

    Such a courageus writer Mr.Alisli.Human is human regardless of it is race. We should admit Khojali too.

  9. wecantlivetogether said:

    “This novel is a message to them. Don’t be afraid. It’s not the end. We can live together.”

    The azeri reactions show that we CANNOT live together! And no need for DNA testing, the picture clearly shows that the author is turk, not Armenian.

    • David said:

      As the Lord Jesus Christ said, those who have something to hide (Pres. of Azeris). will not want the light, or else their actions are being known to all and therefor they hate the light and all thinks righteous

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