by Karina Manukyan
A number of public figures around the world requested the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 to Akram Aylisli, an Azerbaijani writer "who demonstrated amazing courage in the cause of overcoming hostility between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia", APA reports.
"The peace process cannot go beyond the deadlock and thus, the fragile peace can always turn into a new war. Only the voice of honored people can encourage both nations to forgive each other and finally reach an agreement. Mr Aylisli was brave enough to be the first to take this step and offer his hand to the enemy. And we are sure that in Armenia there are people who are willing to respond in kind," says the request.
The request was signed by: Sergey Abashin, Professor of Antropology and Social Studies, European University in St. Petersburg, Andrei Bitov, President of Russian PEN Club; Honorary Professor, Yerevan State University, Craig Calhoun, Professor of the Social Sciences, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science, Georgi Derluguian, Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, New York University Abu Dhabi, Alexander Dobrokhotov, Professor of Philosophy, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Gasan Guseinov, Professor of Classical Philology and Philosophy, Moscow State University, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), University of Basel (Switzerland), Kevan Harris, Researcher, Center for Near East Studies, Princeton University (USA), Rouslan Khestanov, Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Higher School of Economics (Moscow); Director, Moscow Institute of Social and Cultural Programs, Michail Maiatsky, Professor of Cultural Studies, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), Vladimir Malakhov, Professor of Social Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Director, Center for political theory and applied political science, Nikolaj Plotnikov, Professor of Philosophy, Research Centre of Russian Philosophy and Intellectual History, Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), Teodor Shanin, Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester; President, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Andrew Wachtel, Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in the Humanities; Director, Center for International and Comparative Studies (CICS), Northwestern University (USA); President, University of Central Asia, Immanuel Wallerstein, Professor of Sociology, Yale University, Gasan Guseinov (Hasan Huseynov), who signed the request, is the son of Chingiz Huseynov, member of the Union of Azerbaijani Writer, Doctor of Philology, Professor, Honored Artist of Azerbaijan.
To recall, in late 2012 and early 2013, Aylisli found himself embroiled in controversy when his novella, Das 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.