Center for National and International Studies



“The government should also heed this demand for rallies and lift the unjust ban on rallies. It is our people’s right to assemble freely and peacefully, to voice grievances against the government, and to assert their demands…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Journalist Ismayil Tagiyev was called in as a witness to the Baku Serious Crimes Prosecution Office regarding the Abzas Media case. He spent approximately three hours at the police department before departing later that day. Tagiyev, in a statement to journalists, mentioned being detained in connection with the “Abzas Media case.” He indicated that the inquiries were general in nature and refrained from divulging specifics, citing his obligation not to disclose investigation details. According to Tagiyev, he encountered no psychological or physical pressure during the interrogation.

During a recent court hearing, detained journalist Sevinj Vagifgizi leveled accusations against President Aliyev‘s assistant. Vagifgizi stated, “While investigating whether we have accounts abroad, also look into the buildings constructed by the president’s assistant in Georgia.” She voiced this concern during the proceedings on April 9th. Since November 2023, six journalists, including Vagifgizi, and media workers associated with Abzas Media have been detained. They face allegations of “currency smuggling.” Media representatives refute these claims, contending that their arrests stem from their investigative journalism uncovering corruption within Azerbaijan.

The condition of Alasgar Mammadli, the founder of “Toplum” TV currently held at Baku Investigative Detention Center No. 1, continues to worsen. His brother, Nasimi Mammadli, conveyed this after a recent visit. Alasgar Mammadli is severely weakened and suffers from intense headaches. Nasimi Mammadli informed Turan that he is unable to sleep through the night, struggles to breathe while lying down due to throat swelling, and has a 23-millimeter lump in his thyroid gland, severely impacting his nervous system. His blood pressure has spiked to 90-170, and recent blood tests revealed concerning levels of amylase (333, with a normal range of less than 220) and cholesterol (250, with a normal range of less than 200). Additionally, issues with his gallbladder have surfaced. Although doctors have prescribed new treatments and medications, urgent medical intervention is deemed necessary to save his life. Despite requests for his transfer to the Ministry of Justice’s medical facility, no response has been received. In early March nine employees of “Toplum” TV and its affiliate, the Institute of Democratic Initiatives, were apprehended on suspicion of currency smuggling. Seven individuals received initial four-month prison sentences, while two others were placed under police supervision. Alasgar Mammadli is also implicated in the currency smuggling case, with €7300 allegedly found during a search of his apartment.

Baku Court of Appeal upheld the decision denying  transfer of Ruslan Izzetli to house arrest. Izzatli is also Toplum TV employee and a member of the ” III Republic Platform. Lawyer Rasul Jafarov said that they have submitted a request for Izzetli’s transfer to house arrest due to the lack of procedural grounds for his detention. However, the request was rejected. Izzetli is under investigation in the “Toplum TV case” and denies the smuggling allegations. He is a veteran of the Karabakh war, honored with medals for his service. Unlike some veterans who received recognition without frontline experience, Izzetli actively participated in the liberation of Fuzuli and Hojavand from occupation, sustaining injuries in the process. During and after the war, Izzatli actively advocated for the rights of veterans and families of martyrs and addressed broader societal issues.

Hikmet Aghayev, a member of the Muslim Solidarity Movement, was reportedly abducted on April 6th, as reported by Azadlig newspaper. Despite efforts, his family has been unable to obtain any information about his whereabouts. According to his family, he was apprehended for assisting the families of prisoners using his lawful income. Concerns have been raised about his safety, as inquiries through the 102 hotline revealed that a citizen named Hikmet Agayev is not currently held in any department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Vugar Rustamov, a veteran of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and a resident of Shuvi village in Astara district, committed suicide. In the aftermath of the Second Karabakh War, more than 60 veterans attempted suicide, among whom 52 tragically lost their lives. Although on social media, hundreds of thousands of people complained about the neglect of the government and shared the pain of the untimely and tragic deaths of veterans, the government remained silent and did not react to the alarming rate of suicide among the veterans.

Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli commented on the tragic news saying that “the regime almost decided for itself that it shouldn’t be too concerned about veteran suicides.” Karimli further noted that, unfortunately, unlike three years ago, the public’s attention towards veterans has dwindled, leading to increased government indifference. Karimli: “Unfortunately, this inhumane approach of the regime proved itself right. Although veteran suicides did not stop, for the public it was normalized. That’s how quickly we adapt to difficulties. Thus, as time passed and veteran suicides increased, there was a completely opposite reaction in society to what was happening. Thus, the regime’s criminal and ruthless ingratitude, coupled with our society’s indifference, turned veteran suicides from events that shook and unsettled society into mere statistics. For a while, as veterans continued to commit suicide, investigative journalists, and then all of us, began to count. 50, 51, 52… Veteran suicides ceased to be tragic events and became statistics…”

Political commentator Arastun Orujlu asserted that President Aliyev‘s appointment of judge Zeynal Aghayev as the chairman of the Baku Military Court is evidence of his involvement in ordering mass torture in Terter. Orujlu stated, “The appointment of Zeynal Aghayev, who supports and shields the perpetrators, to this position by Ilham Aliyev‘s decree today sheds light on the question of who authorized the joint statement issued by the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Security Service, and the Prosecutor General’s Office, which serves as the basis for the Tartar massacre.” The Terter Case involves extensive torture that occurred in Azerbaijan, targeting Azerbaijani military personnel accused of treason in 2017. According to authorities and human rights advocates, over 400 individuals endured torture during the case, resulting in at least 15 fatalities.

Information about the upcoming rally by the APFP has already reached over half a million people. According to party leader Ali Karimli, tens of thousands of people have expressed their support for the rally across various social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The widespread interest and support for the announcement of the APFP rally indicate a significant social demand, according to the party leader. Ali Karimli said: Our intention to organize a rally, supported by you on various social networks, has further solidified our determination to hold the rally. Discussions about the rally are ongoing within both the Party and the National Council of Democratic Forces. Before final decisions are made, we aim to consult with our people and social media users once more. During the opposition rally, we welcome input on the demands the public would like to see addressed. Once our final decision regarding the rallies is reached, these social demands will be duly considered. The government should also heed this demand for rallies and lift the unjust ban on rallies. It is our people’s right to assemble freely and peacefully, to voice grievances against the government, and to assert their demands.”

April 12, 2024