|Born||Akram Najaf oglu Naibov (Aylisli)
January 12, 1937
Aylis, Soviet Azerbaijan
|Notable awards||People's Writer (Revoked)|
|Children||Najaf Naibov (Aylisli)|
Akram Najaf oglu Naibov (Azerbaijani: Naibov Əkrəm Nəcəf oğlu), better known by his pen name Akram Aylisli (Əkrəm Əylisli, born December 1, 1937) is an Azerbaijani writer, novelist and former member of parliament. His works have been translated from his native Azerbaijani into a number of languages in the former Soviet Union and around the world. He was decorated by the President of Azerbaijan with the prestigious "Istiglal" (2002) and "Shokhrat" orders. In 2013, after the publication of Aylisli's "Stone Dreams" novella, which depicted the pogroms carried out by Azerbaijanis against the Armenians in Sumgait and Baku and presented Armenians in sympathetic light, President Aliyev signed a presidential decree that stripped Aylisli of the title of "People's Writer" and the presidential pension. His books were burnt by Azerbaijani intelligentsia and compatriots in his hometown, his son and wife were fired from their jobs and a "bounty" of some $13,000 was promised for cutting the writer's ear off. In March 2014, a formal request was made by various public figures throughout the world to nominate Aylisli for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Aylisli was born in the village of Aylis in 1937 in the Ordubad region of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. He received his higher education at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. His first work, a poem entitled "Qeşem ve onun Kürekeni", was published in the journal Azerbaycan. From 1968–70, he became the editor-in-chief of Gençlik, and later worked as a satirist for the journal Mozalan. From 1974–78, he served on the Azerbaijan SSR's State Committee for Cinematography.
Aylisli was also the author of a number of dramas and plays, including "Quşu Uçan Budaqlar", "Menim Neğmekar Bibim", "Bağdada Putyovka Var", and "Vezife", which were staged and shown in theaters in Baku, Nakhchivan, Ganja, and Yerevan.
In November 2005, he was elected to the National Assembly of Azerbaijan (Milli Majlis) as a member of parliament representing his constituency in Julfa-Ordubad. During his tenure Aylisli was elected a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations and Inter-parliamentary Relations. He served for one term, which ended on November 7, 2010.
Aylisli generally is supportive of left wing views. His works published in the Soviet Union did not conform to socialist realism, than some other writers of the Azerbaijan SSR at that time, and he spoke negatively about the Soviet era for a while in 1990s. In one of his recent interviews broadcast on television channel ANS TV he stated that he believes that Karl Marx was a genius, and the world will come to his ideas sooner or later.
Stone Dreams controversy
In late 2012 and early 2013, Aylisli found himself embroiled in controversy when his novella, Daş Yuxular (Stone Dreams), was published in a Russian-language journal called Druzhba Narodov (Friendship of the Peoples). Completed in 2007, the novella tells the story of famous Azerbaijani actor Saday Sadykhly and his efforts to protect his Armenian neighbors during the Sumgait and Baku Pogroms in the closing years of the Soviet Union. The novel begins as the severely beaten Sadykhly is being transported to the hospital: while trying to protect his Armenian neighbor he was also assaulted by the yeraz [Azeri refugees from Armenia] on the streets of Baku, who mistook him too for an Armenian. Basically there are four main characters in the novel. Sadai Sadykhly, his friend Nunavrish Karabahly, also an actor, Sadykhly's father in law Professor of psychiatry, Dr. Abbasaliev and a surgeon in the hospital where Sadykhly was taken right after assault Dr. Farid Farzaneh. Although it looks like that Sadykhly was recovering at the beginning, by the end his body couldn't sustain the physical injuries or the nervous pressure, and so he died.
Many in Azerbaijan took offense to Aylisli's sympathetic portrayal of Armenians, with whom they fought and lost a six-year-long conflict over control of the region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s. The novella stirred resentment by depicting only the Azerbaijani attacks against Armenians during the conflict, while never mentioning incidents of Armenian violence against Azerbaijanis such as the Khojaly massacre.
Protests were organized against the author in Nakhchivan and Baku, including one in front of his home, where signs reading "Why have you sold yourself out to the Armenians?" were displayed and his portrait was burned. Azerbaijani lawmakers also condemned the work, with one suggesting that Aylisli have his DNA tested, be stripped of his Azerbaijani citizenship and insisting that he move to Armenia, while another commented that the novella "insulted not only Azerbaijanis, but the whole Turkish nation," on account of references to the Ottoman Empire's historical persecution of Armenians. Hafiz Haciyev, the leader of the pro-government political party Muasir Musavat (Modern Equality), said his party would pay $13,000 to anyone who would cut Aylisli's ear off. After coming under strong pressure from foreign embassies and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Interior, Muasir Musavat rescinded the reward.
|“||If a single candle were lighted for every murdered Armenian, the light from these candles would be brighter than that of the moon||”|
—The Stone Dreams
Ali Hasanov, Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Social and Political Department, denounced him for purportedly having no national spirit or sense of humanity, for disrespecting the memory of those who died during the war, and for posing as a defender of human values. He added that Aylisli represents Armenian youth who killed thousands of Azerbaijanis, and took control over Azerbaijani lands and committed the massacre in Khojaly, but that he represents Azerbaijanis as murderers and weak personalities. He further added that as Azerbaijanis they "must express public hatred towards these people." The head of the Youth Organization of Refugees and IDP announced their and other NGOs dealing with the affairs of veterans, refugees and IDPs' intention to take legal action against Aylisli.
On February 7, 2013, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a presidential decree that stripped Aylisli of the title of "People's Writer" and the presidential pension. His books were burnt by Azerbaijani intelligentsia and compatriots in his hometown. Earlier, Aylisli confirmed reports that his son, a customs official, and wife were dismissed from their jobs.
The chairman of Armenia's Union of Writers, Levon Ananyan, offered a formal response to the controversy on February 8, saying, "Kudos to our Azerbaijani colleague! He is that brave man who blazes the trail, the trail that leads to repentance through truth." Ananyan added that "Not only Armenians, but also Russians, all people that are concerned about the future of the country...should share this braveness."
Human Rights Watch (HRW) voiced its concern for Aylisli's physical safety and called for Azerbaijan's "government to end [the] hostile campaign of intimidation." "The government of Azerbaijan is making a mockery of its international obligations on freedom of expression," remarked HRW's Europe and Central Asia director Hugh Williamson.
Aylisli defended himself in an interview, commenting that "Armenians are not enemies for me....How can they be? I am a writer living in the 21st century. A solution to Nagorno-Karabakh is being delayed, and hostility is growing between the two nations. I want to contribute to a peaceful solution."
- (Azerbaijani) "Üçüncü çağırış Azərbaycan Respublikası Milli Məclisinin deputatları haqqında seçildikləri tarixə olan qısa MƏLUMATLAR." Meclis.gov.az.
- (Turkish) "Akram Aylisli," in Azerbaycan XX.yy Yakın Dönem Türk Edebiyatı. Accessed February 2, 2013.
- (Turkish) "Azeri yazarın ezber bozan Ermeni çıkışı." Enson Haber. February 4, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
- "Azerbaijani President signs orders to deprive Akram Aylisli of presidential pension and honorary title." Trend.az. February 7, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- ‘Stone Dreams’ breaks stereotypes between Azeris, Armenians
- "Bring me the ear of Akram Aylisli! Politician offers £8,000 for attack on writer." The Independent. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- "Request made to nominate Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli for Nobel Peace Prize". Azeri-Press Agency (APA). 11 March 2014.
- Intellectuals by Mammad Suleymanov
- Sindelar, Daisy. "In Azerbaijan, Anger at an Author, But Not Necessarily at His Argument". RFE/RL. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- Sultanova, Aida and Peter Leonard. "Azerbaijani writer punished for pitying Armenians." Businessweek. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- Sultanova, Shahla, "Novella’s Sympathetic Portrayal of Armenians Causes Uproar in Azerbaijan." New York Times. February 1, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
- Agayev, Zulfugar. "$13,000 Bounty Offered for Cutting Off Azeri Writer’s Ear." Businessweek. February 13, 2013.
- Loiko, Sergei L. (February 19, 2013). Featured. "Azerbaijani novelist vilified for his call for reconciliation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "Top Official: Writer Akram Aylisli disrespects memory of thousands of martyrs." Trend.az. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "A group of NGOs to sue Akram Aylisli." APA. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Akram Aylisli: I will not leave the country!." Contact.az. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Azerbaijan: Stop Harassing Writer." Human Rights Watch. February 12, 2013. Accessed February 13, 2013.