Center for National and International Studies



“In the past 6 months, up to 20 journalists and civil society activists in Azerbaijan have been detained on various charges, primarily on charges of “smuggling.” Local and international human rights organizations have declared that these detentions are carried out on political orders…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Azadlig newspaper shared the anxieties expressed by a veteran’s mother. Nargiz Mammadova, a displaced individual from Aghdam district, is deeply concerned about her son, Eljan Gadir oghlu Mehdiyev. She reveals that her son has served in the military since 2018, following the completion of his initial military service. Despite sustaining severe injuries during the Second Karabakh War, he has been unable to obtain disability status. Tragically, he has made multiple attempts to end his own life. Additionally, Nargiz Mammadova recounts the story of her son-in-law, Rauf Khanbala oghlu Asadov, who served as an officer and participated in the April 2016 battles. However, due to injuries suffered, he became unfit for service and ultimately took his own life due to the resulting suffering. Now, she stresses the importance of caring for his children. Mammadova also mentions the sacrifice of two of her son’s cousins who were martyred in the First Karabakh War. She appeals to the President and relevant authorities for assistance and support for herself and her family.

Famil Khalilov, a disabled person who was deported from Sweden last year and detained on May 2, has been transferred to the medical-sanitary section of the Baku Detention Center. His lawyer, Bahruz Bayramov, provided this information to Meydan TV. The lawyer stated that Famil Khalilov was transferred there on May 6: “Considering his health problems, such a decision was made. I was shocked when I saw Famil Khalilov myself. Both of his arms are paralyzed. During our conversation, I also noticed that he is under severe pressure. How can a person who cannot use both of his hands manage himself?!” According to the lawyer, Famil Khalilov did not accept the drug charges during their conversation. He stated that he is being framed, and has no connection to drugs whatsoever. 34-year-old Famil Khalilov is accused of acquiring, transporting, and storing a large amount of drugs. This charge carries a penalty of imprisonment from 5 to 12 years.

The request regarding the release of Ulvi Hasanli, the director of “Abzas Media,” and chief editor Sevinj Vagifgizi being released on bail on May 9 was reviewed. Lawyer Zibeyde Sadigova stated that bail was not approved in the proceedings held at the Khatai District Court. Ulvi Hasanli, speaking during the hearing, asserted that the criminal charges against him are unfounded. He noted the absence of adequate conditions for family visits at Baku Investigative Detention Center No. 1. Despite requesting bail, the court did not grant it. The leadership and staff of “Abzas Media,” known for its exposure of corruption among high-ranking officials in Azerbaijan, have been detained since November last year on charges of “smuggling.” Presently, six members of the media have been in custody for almost six months.

The cases of Imran Aliyev and Anar Mammadli have been separated from the “Abzas Media case” and are being handled separately. The request for Imran Aliyev’s release on bail were considered at the Khatai District Court. Aliyev is the director of the “http://Meclis.info” platform, which monitors the activities of the parliament. According to information from Abzas Media, bail was not granted to the defense side in the process held at the Khatai District Court, and the court remanded Imran Aliyev in custody. Aliyev was detained at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport on April 18. He was charged under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code (smuggling, committed by a group of persons in advance) and was remanded in custody for two months.

Tale Baghirzade, head of the Muslim Union Movement who is serving a sentence at facility number 12, has been threatened with death. This information was provided by a theologian himself. According to the statement, of the Movement, the situation of believers who have endured terrible torture by the prison authorities is lamentable. “The poor performance of the Penitentiary Service in prisons continues to lead to numerous problems. Although these problems are sometimes raised, they often remain unchanged in reality, with efforts made to hide or exacerbate them instead of addressing them.

Haji Tale Baghirzade has repeatedly appealed regarding the frequent water supply problems at facility number 12. He has even raised the issue of water shortages through the media several times. However, despite his efforts the issue was never solved. This year, even before the arrival of summer, the prisoners have been subjected to relentless torture by the prison authorities, led by the team headed by Aziz Taghiyev, exacerbating the ongoing water supply problems.

Over the past three days, the prison has experienced a water supply shortage, leading to Tale Baghirzade‘s protest against the unsanitary conditions. However, instead of addressing the issue, his protest resulted in internal “punishment” within the prison this morning. Following Haji Tale‘s protest, along with another believer named Rafael, the facility management invited them, but upon their arrival, they were accused of causing disruption. Kamran Huseynli, Rasim Masiyev, Fuad Asgarov, and Rafiq Shahverdiyev were accused of disobedience by Javid Safarov, an operative at the facility. Subsequently, all four believers were taken to the punishment room, where they were humiliated and subjected to severe torture. Javid Safarov warned that Haji Tale’s next protest would be met with even harsher measures. Although one of the tortured individuals was released, the other three remain in the punishment room.

The Muslim Union Movement strongly condemns the current events and urges relevant authorities to take action on the matter. Besides numerous cases of torture in correctional facilities, the tragic incidents in prisons demonstrate that prisoners are not safe. The fact that a facility worker like Aziz Taghiyev threatens Tale Baghirzade with death only adds to the dangerous tension in this situation. “We appeal to all relevant organizations, including the Ombudsman’s Office, to investigate the lives of innocent inmates living in precarious conditions and demand punishment for wrongdoers,” concluded the statement by the Press Secretary of the Muslim Union Movement.

The Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) to Azerbaijan, Mark Libby, met with the family members of detained civil society representatives. This information was provided on the official Facebook page of the embassy. During the meeting, the mother of Sevinj Vagifgizi (Abbasova), the detained chief editor of “Abzas Media,” Ofelya Mehdiyeva, along with Nigar Hazi, the daughter of Tofig Yagublu, a member of the Musavat Party and the National Council, and Gunel Manafli, the spouse of Ruslan Izzatli, a member of the Founding Board of the III Republic Platform, also participated.

“Ambassador Libby met with the family members of detained civil society representatives to discuss their situation. The United States firmly believes that an independent civil society is an integral part of an active and responsible society, and those unjustly imprisoned should be released to continue their important work in society,” the embassy’s statement said.

In the past 6 months, up to 20 journalists and civil society activists in Azerbaijan have been detained on various charges, primarily on charges of “smuggling.” Local and international human rights organizations have declared that these detentions are carried out on political orders.

Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli criticized the government’s anti-west rhetoric, saying that it would damage the national interests of Azerbaijan. Karimli: “The absolute majority of Azerbaijanis know that if Russia could quickly invade Ukraine, Azerbaijan would be among its next targets. Fortunately, the Ukrainian people are standing to halt Russia’s new imperial ambitions, and the West is assisting in this just cause. It is baffling that Azerbaijan’s government fails to grasp this simple truth understood by the vast majority of our citizens. Aligning with Russia and engaging in a cold war with the West is decidedly against Azerbaijan’s national interests. The government’s media and MPs have adopted a rhetoric against the United States and the West as a whole that makes one feel as if the Soviet Union still exists. Azerbaijan, as one of the distant provinces of that empire, has been drawn into a struggle for life or death against “international imperialism” by Kremlin orders.”

May 10, 2024