Region: Germany
Education

Over 11 years the Humboldt Uni took money from a corrupt dictatorship: we demand reassessment

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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
703 Supporters 406 in Germany
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Initiative for independent and transparent science

November 19, 2021

The financing of the endowed Chair of “History of Azerbaijan” at the Humboldt University of Berlin by a dictatorship must be entirely reappraised.

Together for independent and transparent science

_______________________________________

We demand a reappraisal of the establishment of the Endowed Chair of “Geschichte Aserbaidschans” (History of Azerbaijan). Since its establishment, the financing of the chair with considerable funds from the Azerbaijani state has raised considerable doubts about the freedom of science and the independence of the (German) educational system.

The Chair of “History of Azerbaijan” was established in October 2010, at the Humboldt University of Berlin, financed by the Berlin Embassy of the authoritarian regime of Azerbaijan – a country accused by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for decades, of flagrant violations of basic rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and of violently persecuting political opponents and activists.

The Humboldt University of Berlin is not only the only university in Germany to have a Chair financed by a dictatorship, but has also failed to condemn unequivocally the highly questionable involvement of the Chair holder Prof. Dr. Eva-Maria Auch with the Azerbaijani regime.

During a recent trip to Azerbaijan, Ms. Auch congratulated Azerbaijan's representatives on the “victory” over the Armenian population in the war over Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh; September 27, 2020 to November 10, 2020), - a “victory” that was the result of most violent use of force resulting in thousands of deaths and ethnic cleansing, and she also most gruesomely visited the Aliyev regime’s "Military Trophy Park" – a tasteless demonstration of glorification of violence against Armenians and the normalisation of hatred propagated on official level by Azerbaijan. Among other things, wax dolls depicting dying Armenian soldiers in dehumanising and undignifying ways are on display there - surrounded by spoils of war such as helmets and weapons of fallen Armenians.The sculptures echo 19th-century anti-Armenian stereotypes ("hook-nosed", "greedy") or repeat anti-Semitic tropes. According to Azerbaijani human rights activist Bahruz Samadov, the trophy park's dehumanization of Armenian opponents, which is said to have shocked many people in Azerbaijan as well, reflects the logic of exclusion that has prevailed there for years, namely that internal and external enemies of the Aliyev regime must be eliminated.

In retrospect, Ms. Auch declares the "current massive criticism" of her visit to the trophy park an expression of misunderstanding. She sees herself as a victim of a conspiracy that wants to prevent scientific research on Azerbaijan for political reasons. In this context, she explicitly speaks of a "campaign" that is "well-funded in the German election campaign" (“deutschen Wahlkampf wohlfeil”) and orchestrated by "campaign leaders" – without even attempting to substantiate her serious accusations or to present evidence of such a conspiracy. Moreover, there is no explicit statement on the criticism of the funding of the Chair, although this criticism is more than justified.

There are indisputable facts: 

  • Azerbaijan launched a major offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020 in violation of international law and the 1994 ceasefire agreement - militarily supported by NATO member Turkey, and Syrian mercenaries, as also confirmed by Research and Documentation Services of the German Bundestag;
  • according to Amnesty International, the regime of Ilham Aliyev used the turmoil of the war to take stronger action against political opponents;
  • Azerbaijan systematically tries to use European delegates and members of the German Bundestag for its anti-democratic agenda. For example, several CDU politicians are currently facing corruption charges: among them Axel Fischer, Eduard Lintner and the recently deceased Karin Strenz. And Luca Volontè, the former chairman of the EPP in the Council of Europe, was sentenced to four years in prison for corrupt activities on behalf of Azerbaijan;
  • the Aliyev regime is trying to advance its lobbying activities, among other things, specifically by means of interns in the German Bundestag, with Humboldt University of Berlin being one of three academic partner organizations in this internship program.

Reason

Already in 2014, "DIE ZEIT" asked whether the Humboldt University of Berlin was doing ‘’PR for an unjust regime’’ and referred to the cooperation agreement between the University and the Azerbaijani Embassy, which was agreed upon when the Chair was established and  stating that the professorship, in addition to research and teaching, should contribute to the level of awareness of Azerbaijan's history. Moreover, the Embassy was be given the opportunity to provide suggestions for the content-related work of the endowed guest professorship.

It is highly alarming and damaging to the reputation of the Humboldt University of Berlin 

  • accepted funding from an authoritarian-ruled country where there is no academic freedom;
  • refuses to disclose all documents concerning the financing of the endowed professorship "History of Azerbaijan", including the current cooperation agreement, upon request, according to Section 3 (1) of the Berlin Freedom of Information Act;
  • has entered into a cooperation with the Azerbaijani news agency Azertag, which, among other things, propagandistically spreads the denial of the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire;
  • cooperates with the ADA University, founded in 2006 by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, whose vice rector, in a Twitter post of May 3, 2021, apparently sees Armenia as the only obstacle to a "united Turkish world" that is to extend almost throughout Asia;

Sources:

 https://www.humanrights.ch/de/ipf/archiv/international/laenderinfos/laenderinfo-aserbaidschan (access on 19th November 2021)  

Professorin Eva-Maria Auch: Besuch in befreiten Gebieten bietet günstige Gelegenheit, Wahrheiten an die Weltöffentlichkeit zu vermitteln - AZERTAG - Aserbaidschanische Staatliche Nachrichtenagentur (access on 19th November 2021)

Bahruz Samadov: Perspectives. Azerbaijan’s authoritarianism and Baku’s “Military Trophies Park”. Eurasianet: Perspectives | Azerbaijan’s authoritarianism and Baku’s “Military Trophies Park” | Eurasianet (access on 19th November 2021). In a resolution of 19 May 2021, the European Parliament expresses, inter alia, its concern that the depiction of fallen or dying Armenian soldiers "may be perceived as glorifying violence [...]." European Parliament: JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on prisoners of war in the aftermath of the most recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan (europa.eu) (access on 19th November 2021)

https://www.hu-berlin.de/de/pr/nachrichten/april-2021/nr-21422?fbclid=IwAR2hqb1fIFnVqE9R73dxxrwo0vB2PvH5W0ObAWcIQjStoUQdM3LImNwJEU8 (access on 19th November 2021)

https://www.bundestag.de/resource/blob/825428/5b868defc837911f17628d716e7e1e1d/WD-2-113-20-pdf-data.pdf (access on 19th November 2021) 

 Aserbaidschan 2020 | Amnesty Report | 07.04.2021 (access on 19th November 2021) 

 Korruptionsverdacht gegen CDU-Abgeordneten Axel Fischer - Politik - SZ.de (sueddeutsche.de) (access on 19th November 2021)

https://www.tagesschau.de/investigativ/kontraste/union-politiker-aserbaidschan-kasachstan-101.html (access on 19th November 2021)

https://www.nordkurier.de/politik-und-wirtschaft/mv-abgeordnete-strenz-darf-europarat-nicht-mehr-betreten-2832430206.html (access on 19th November 2021)

Italian Court Sentences Former Council of Europe MP for Bribery (occrp.org) (access on 19th November 2021)

https://www.vice.com/de/article/m7ejgq/aserbaidschan-affare-aliyevs-geheime-praktikanten-armee-im-bundestag (access on 19th November 2021)

Erb, Sebastian; Kramer, Bernd: Nicht die reine Lehre. In: „DIE ZEIT“, Nr. 8, 13.02.2014; https://web.archive.org/web/20140228043147/http:/www.zeit.de/2014/08/aserbaidschan-humboldt-universitaet (access on 19th November 2021)

 KinzelbachEtAl_2021_Free_Universities_AFi-2020.pdf (gppi.net) (access on 19th November 2021)

 https://fragdenstaat.de/anfrage/stiftungsprofessur-geschichte-aserbaidschans/#nachricht-588022 (access on 19th November 2021)

Zusammenarbeit zwischen AZERTAC und Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin kann zur Übermittlung von Wahrheiten über Aserbaidschan in Deutschland  beitragen VIDEO - AZERTAG - Aserbaidschanische Staatliche Nachrichtenagentur (access on 19th November 2021)

https://azertag.az/de/xeber/Erklarung_von_in_Aserbaidschan_tatigen_politischen_Parteien_zur_Position_des_US_Prasidenten_zum_sogenannten__quotVolkermord_an_den_Armeniern_quot-1765027 (access on 19th November 2021)

 http://twitter.com/dhbln/status/1389142795689074689 (access on 19th November 2021)

Thank you for your support, Lilit Kocharyan from Berlin
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Why people sign

on 14 Feb 2022

History falsification is a crime against human culture and values. The history should be known as is.

on 13 Feb 2022

Правду надо знать всем. Это важно не только для армян и Армении🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

on 11 Feb 2022

Я против распространения лживой информации.

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