Center for National and International Studies



“The real smugglers, those who illicitly transfer the nation’s riches overseas, remain free. We are being accused of smuggling because we investigated them…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

In the criminal case related to “AbzasMedia,” the detention of journalist, Sevinj Vagifgizi (Abbasova), the editor-in-chief of the publication, has been extended for an additional three months. Sevinj Vagifgizi participated in the court hearing, presided over by Judge Fuad Akhundov. The journalist stated that the smuggling charges against her are fabricated and that she was arrested because of investigations published in “AbzasMedia” regarding the corruption and wealth of officials, including the Aliyev family. “The real smugglers, those who illicitly transfer the nation’s riches overseas, remain free. We are being accused of smuggling because we investigated them”, said Vagifgizi.

Sevinj Vagifgizi also spoke about instances of torture and mistreatment of women in the Baku Pretrial Detention Center, where she is being held. She mentioned that she has been banned from phone calls with her family members because she publicized the illegal actions of the detention center’s deputy chief, regime chief, and other officials against female detainees.

Sevinj Vagifgizi has requested that the ombudsman investigate the instances of violence she saw in prison. Sevinj had informed her mother about the violence against women in the Baku Pretrial Detention Center. After she spoke about this, her phone calls were banned. Instead, today the court extended Sevinj Vagifgizi‘s detention period. The court made the same decision regarding Ulvi Hasanli, the director of Abzas Media.

The detention periods for journalists Elnara Gasimova and Hafiz Babalı, who were arrested in connection with the “Abzas Media case,” have been extended again for the duration of the investigation. During the hearing at Khatai District Court, Judge Fuad Akhundov approved the investigation agency’s requests for extending their detention periods. Elnara Gasimova’s detention has been extended by 2 months, while Hafiz Babalı’s has been extended by 1 month. Additionally, the investigation period has been extended until September 20.

Journalist Nargiz Absalomova‘s detention period has also been extended in the “Abzas Media case.” She was initially given a 3-month pretrial detention on December 1. Her lawyer, Shahla Humbatova, stated that Nargiz is currently experiencing throat pain and is receiving treatment for it. Nargiz did not present a defense statement in court, considering it pointless. According to her lawyer, this itself is a position.

On June 7, two women were placed in a punitive cell at the Baku Pretrial Detention Center, and one of them was kept handcuffed for three hours. This information was shared by Sevinj Vagifgizi, the imprisoned editor-in-chief of “AbzasMedia,” during a phone call with her mother, Ofeliya Maharramova. According to Sevinj Vagifgizi, the deputy chiefs of the detention center, Jeyhun and Ahad, insulted these women: “They told the girls that if they complained, they would drag them by their hair. The guard assigned to the women, named Mahir, threatened them with torture.”

Ofeliya Maharramova told Meydan TV that the call was cut off after Sevinj Vagifgizi said this. Maharramova is worried that Sevinj Vagifgizi will face further pressure.

Meydan TV sent an inquiry to the Public Relations Department of the Penitentiary Service regarding these allegations. The Penitentiary Service responded that these claims are completely unfounded.

A conference related to COP29 was held at the UN headquarters in Bonn, Germany. During this event, a group of Azerbaijani activist exiles held a protest. They drew attention to the political repression in Azerbaijan. The protestors informed the conference participants about imprisoned journalists and political activists, as well as veterans of the Second Karabakh War who have committed suicide due to poor social conditions.

The trial related to the fabricated criminal case against Tofig Yagublu, the opposition figure, will begin, as reported by his daughter Nigar Hezi. The process is scheduled on June 14 at 14:00 at the Court of Grave Crimes, presided over by Elnur Nuriyev. The case was initially assigned to Judge Ali Mahmudov, but he declined to preside over the trial. Tofig Yagublu has invited MP Samad Seyidov, who claims that “there are no political prisoners in the country” to attend his court hearing. Yagublu said that he will personally demonstrate “what a political prisoner is” during the trial.

The former MP and businessman Nazim Baydamirli, who has been in prison for a year, requested to be released to house arrest. According to Baydarmirli, he has serious health problems and needs urgent treatment. He also added that he is willing to return to prison once his health condition improves. “I have not committed any crime. I was imprisoned based on incorrect information. I have very serious health issues. I refrain from discussing them to spare my family and children from concern. Release me so I can recover, and then you can imprison me again.”

Political prisoner Ilkin Amrahov, who was arrested in connection with the “Toplum TV case,” shared a statement from the detention center: “I thank everyone who protested against illegal arrests and supported us. The arrest of representatives of the new generation is a signal from the current government to the youth of Azerbaijan. This signal consists of threats, pressure, intimidation, slander, and ultimately imprisonment. If the decision-makers think they will achieve something through this, they are mistaken. The flaws, deficiencies, gaps, and overall crisis situation in the current governance may escape some people’s attention, but the youth see everything and give it the necessary evaluation. Do not forget that the courage shown by the youth in restoring the territorial integrity of the country will be repeated in the establishment of a democratic republic in Azerbaijan. Those who illegally interfere with and obstruct the activities of an independent civil society and free media will receive their deserved punishment.”

Political prisoner Agil Humbatov has faced severe punishment for requesting to be included in the pardon list. On June 10, Aygun Humbatova, the wife of political prisoner Agil Humbatov, said that she would hold a protest if she did not hear about her husband in Correctional Facility No. 2. After this, for the first time in 15 days, the activist was allowed to call home. Aygun Humbatova informed Turan Agency about this. According to her, the relatives of other prisoners told her that Agil was put in solitary confinement in May because he protested the absence of political prisoners on the pardon list issued by the head of state. In response to her inquiry about her husband’s fate, the Penitentiary Service assured her that everything was fine. Humbatova: “Yesterday, Agil informed me by phone that he wanted to meet with members of the pardon commission who visited Correctional Facility No. 2. The commission members refused to see him, at which point Agil expressed his protest and called President Ilham Aliyev the culprit for the suffering of political prisoners. He was then taken to another place, where several guards beat him and another prisoner. The beaten prisoners were taken to the central prison hospital, where they were kept naked on a concrete floor for an hour before Agil was placed in solitary confinement for 15 days. Agil went on a hunger strike in solitary confinement, drinking only water. He asked the facility chief when he would be returned to the correctional facility, to which the chief replied that there was no order for his return and that he could only make a phone call home,” Aygun Humbatova reported.

June 13, 2024