Center for National and International Studies
“There must be an end to this. Either we will all die, or you will go, Ilham Aliyev…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Opposition leader’s health is at risk
Member of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Tofig Yagublu is on hunger strike in protest against the decision of the administrative detention center not to allow family meetings and accept gifts. Yagublu’s wife Maya Yagublu, also started a hunger strike in support of her husband. Maya Yagublu said that her family has long been targeted by the regime. Yagublu shared her decision with the Facebook community with these words: Ilham Aliyev tore my family apart. And now he is about to destroy it. He takes revenge on us, on my family. What did he do to my family in recent years? He arrested my husband and children many times, tortured them, and put psychological pressure on them. He humiliated us and made us suffer. The last ten years of my life, I spent visiting prisons to see my family members. We once had a car accident on the way to prison. As if the deprivations we suffered were not enough, we experienced the most terrible tragedy. We lost our child, but Tofig and I could not mourn the loss of our child together. We cried quietly in the meeting rooms of the prison. I don’t know whether to mourn my child or protect the surviving family members from dying. I’m so tired of suffering. There must be an end to this. Either we will all die, or you will go, Ilham Aliyev. I join the hunger strike in support of my husband. They are killing Tofig in prison. The tortures he was subjected to in prisons over the years had caused serious damage to his health. How many times have we taken him back from the clutches of death? This time it won’t be that easy. I have always supported my spouse. Although I also have serious health problems, despite everything, I start hunger strike at home today. If we die, we will die together!”
In support of Tofig Yagublu at the headquarters of Musavat Party, seven people, including six members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) started a hunger strike.
Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu expressed his support and concern about Yagublu calling for the government to release him immediately. “Tofig Yagublu’s arrest is caused by the moral and the legal problems existing both in society and political administration. These problems were undoubtedly created by the current government. The government at the top of its authoritarian regime has created such an environment through total control that the majority live with the idea of “I am hungry, but at least I am not in trouble” and do not see the disasters for themselves, their families, and the present as well as the future. A small group living like princes, kings, lords, and pharaohs in the corruption pyramid in the country justified the arrest of Tofig Yagublu, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, and many others. And the rest who are worried about the future, instead of fighting, are looking for ways to leave the country. In order to put an end to these problems, we must demonstrate resilience and unity for the sake of building a state based on democratic governance, and we must jointly look for new opportunities and prepare for them from now on. We have no other way out. Otherwise, Tofig Yagublu and freethinking people like him who are fighters and want change will spend their lives in prison, and their lives will end in prison.”
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli shared a similar opinion calling for the public to be more active in supporting Yagublu and all the political prisoners. “Tofig Yagublu‘s hunger strike in the detention center is not only a protest against his illegal detention and the violation of his rights in the detention center but also the continuous repression against him. It is also a protest against the silence of our society. It is a call to the society to defend political prisoners more actively and persistently. It is also yet another example. Tofig bey sets an example of finding a way to fight and continuing even in the most difficult conditions, not to submit to injustice and lawlessness. We demand freedom for Tofig Yagublu and all political prisoners.”
Meanwhile, political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev who was arrested on trumped-up charges, is also on hunger strike to protest against his illegal arrest.
Azadliq newspaper reports that Niyamaddin Ahmadov, the former bodyguard of the Chairman of the APFP, who is currently in prison, is facing abuse in prison. According to the newspaper, the prison administration is putting pressure on other prisoners not to befriend Ahmadov. The prisoner, named Khatayi Nabiyev, was beaten by several employees of the prison and put in a punishment cell for talking to Ahmadov.
On January 6, the prosecutor at the Baku Serious Crimes Court requested that Jafar Mirzayev, a member of the APFP, be sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, accusing him of illegal drug trafficking. The next trial will be held on January 13. Mirzayev was deported from Germany in November 2021 and was arrested in January 2022. According to the indictment, 12 grams of heroin and four narcotic pills were found on him when he was detained by the operatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Main Anti-Narcotics Department. A criminal case was opened against him under Article 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code (Illegal preparation, production, acquisition, storage, transportation, sending, or sale of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or their precursors). Mirzayev and human rights defenders deny the accusations saying that his political activism is the main reason for the arrest.
Azad Soz reports that the family of Polad Aslanov, a political prisoner, is facing serious financial difficulties as the economic situation worsens in the country. Aslanov’s wife told Azad Soz that in the absence of her husband, she could not afford to pay the bills and support her children.
“My husband was slandered and arrested for four years on false accusations. I have a child to take care of. I don’t work, and we don’t have our own house. There is no allowance for child care. Not even once has any government agency been interested in how I take care of my child. I have to pay 55 manats per month ( for two people) for communal expenses. Every month they send notices to my house for not paying the bills. When applying for social support services, they create such meaningless and nonsense obstacles that, in the end, the citizens get fed up and give up on it. The last time I received a refusal from the service because I did not have registration in Baku. The government did not wait long to return Akif Chovdarov‘s properties and Ali Insanov‘s golds but intends to oppress us by keeping my innocent husband in prison. My husband is punished for not looting the state budget and not getting involved in corruption.”
January 10, 2023