02 September, 2011 - On 11 August around 20.30 p.m. a bulldozer and a team of workers drove up to the Office of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD). Two employees of IPD were present at the office. They were told to leave the office.

Seeing the bulldozer demolishing the building, they asked Zulfaly Ismaylov, an official of Baku City Executive Authority, and Yusif Gambarov, an official of the State Property Committee, charged with the operation, to give at least 30 minutes to take the inside property out. They were not even given 5 minutes. The house privately owned by Leyla and Arif Yunusov was completely destroyed with all the property during 30-40 minutes.

The market price of the house (apartments 1 and 2, 38 Shamsi Badalbeyli, total area 112m2) located in the center of Baku makes at least AZN 500.000 ($625.000). The Yunusovs lost all their property, including computers, furniture, library, documents of IPD, Women’s Crisis Center, Azerbaijan’s Campaign to Ban Landmines (the three NGOs sat in this house). Leyla Yunus stated to the media that “her biggest pain is the bulldozer-demolished portraits of her parents painted 60 years ago by Azerbaijan People’s artists N. Nadjafzadeh (a portrait of Teymur Useynov) and Tofig Agababayev (a portrait of Zohra Useynova).

Back 60 years ago during the WWII the soldiers would sing “Enemies burnt down my home”. “Only occupants destroy houses and property of citizens in such a way”, Leyla Yunus emphasized. It is noteworthy, that early in July the AR Administrative Economic Court ruled inadmissibility of destruction of the Yunusovs’ house without a court decision. The ruling was forwarded to all authorities. However, the law in Azerbaijan is the President. Observers agree that the order to destroy the IPD Office building came only from President Ilham Aliyev. The President seems to have given an order to punish the human rights defender, who was persistently exposing corruption, economic offences of the authorities. The last straw for Ilham Aliyev was apparently an article by Amanda Erickson (New York Times, 10 Aug) on legal arbitrariness in Baku supplemented with comments of Leyla Yunus.