Center for National and International Studies



“I knew that I had to give double, triple in Azerbaijan, because I was fighting in their country and they had bought everyone…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

The National Council of Democratic Forces decided to organize a rally in Baku, scheduled for April 21 at 3:00 p.m. The primary objectives of the rally encompass the release of political prisoners, electoral reforms ensuring unhindered election rallies and genuine opposition representation in election commissions, enhancement of the living standards through child benefits, increased social support, pensions, and salaries, the reopening of the land borders, and the withdrawal of the Russian army from Azerbaijan.

In an interview with Meydan TV, Professor Jamil Hasanli, the chairman of the National Council, stated, “On April 15, we will submit an application to the Baku City Executive Authority regarding the rally. We will designate the ‘Mehsul’ stadium, as well as areas in front of Narimanov and 28 May metro stations for the rally. Ensuring the safety of the rally will also be emphasized in the application.” Hasanli underscored that the demands of the rally include democratic elections, the release of political prisoners, and an end to corruption and embezzlement.

He further noted that if the Baku City Executive Authority does not grant permission for the rally, they will make a suitable decision based on the circumstances.

Ali Karimli, the Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), remarked that the rally scheduled by the National Council for April 21 will create a new political landscape in the country. He suggested that the government will be compelled to either revoke the five-year ban on rallies or acknowledge its apprehension about competing with the opposition in rally arenas, given the severe repression and resource deprivation they have endured. Karimli also asserted that the regime is gearing up to manipulate the forthcoming parliamentary elections, as per its customary practice. Karimli: “In countries like Azerbaijan, where protests and marches are banned, competitive and free elections are cancelled, the government considers itself not as a servant but as a master of the people. It does not engage with the people; instead, it prolongs its political power by coercion rather than satisfying the people. Therefore, we all must understand that in this country, holding competitive elections and peaceful protests against the government is most needed by ordinary, hardworking people. Therefore, tens of thousands of our compatriots must support the opposition’s attempts to hold rallies and demand free elections.”

APFP member Fuad Gahramanli urged his social media followers to actively join the rally planned for April 21, highlighting the injustices and low life expectancy in Azerbaijan. Gahramanli: “Last year in Azerbaijan, out of the 33,157 men who passed away, 47.8% – 15,872 individuals – did not reach the age of 65. The fact that nearly half of the individuals passed away before reaching the age of 65 is a quite alarming indicator of the shortened life expectancy in the country. Considering that the retirement age is currently 65, it means that almost half of the individuals die before reaching this age and being eligible for retirement pensions. In neighboring Georgia, the average life expectancy is 77 years, while in Western countries, the average lifespan reaches up to 83 years. In our country, people do not protest against the problems that lead to their deaths, the worsening living conditions, just so they don’t put themselves in any danger. As a result, they die earlier than citizens of other countries due to the problems they ignore, the corruption they remain silent about, and the election fraud they tolerate, paying the price of their silence with their lives. The National Council has scheduled a rally for April 21 as a protest against the problems that drain our lives. Join us, support us so that they don’t eat away your lives.”

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued rulings on several petitions concerning Azerbaijan’s treatment of the LGBTQI+ community. These petitions originated from incidents in September 2017, where LGBTQI+ individuals were reportedly arrested by Azerbaijani police on various grounds. Subsequently, they were convicted under Article 535.1 of the Administrative Code for administrative offenses. The petitioners alleged misconduct by law enforcement, arbitrary detention, denial of fair trial rights, forced medical examinations, lack of effective domestic legal remedies, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On August 7, 2019, the Azerbaijani government acknowledged the violation of petitioners’ rights and proposed compensation through a unilateral statement. However, the petitioners expressed dissatisfaction with the admission and proposed compensation, citing inadequacy.

The Court initially reviewed several matters, particularly application number 17201/18. It determined that close relatives lacked the authority to pursue the case further, leading to its removal from the examination list. Applications where contact with the petitioners was lost were also removed. Following an investigation into the Government’s statement and assessment of the acknowledgment of human rights violations and proposed compensation, the Court deemed the cessation of examination unjustified. Consequently, the remaining 19 applications were removed from consideration. The Court stressed that the Government’s failure to adhere to the terms of the unilateral statement could lead to the reinstatement of the applications. Leyla Huseynova, an advocate for LGBTQI+ rights, voiced her apprehension regarding the ECHR’s decision. She pointed out the lack of constructive action by the Azerbaijani government in safeguarding the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals since 2017. Huseynova highlighted incidents of physical assaults and injuries sustained by six LGBTQI+ individuals between May 30 and June 7, 2021, emphasizing that many other cases remain unreported and undisclosed.

Bayram Bayram, a human rights attorney, expressed skepticism about the ECHR and its rulings concerning Azerbaijan on social media. He remarked, “The ECHR has chosen not to acknowledge the blatant violation of human rights. This is not the first instance where the ECHR has addressed significant issues in Azerbaijan since 2020. Such cases raise doubts and concerns about the ECHR. Shameful.”

In a victory for two members of the Platform III Republic, the Azerbaijani government has been held accountable by the European Court of Human Rights. Recognizing the legitimacy of complaints concerning the 2020 elections, the government has consented to pay €4750 in compensation to Samed Rahimli and €4500 to Yadigar Sadigli.

Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reported that a group of Azerbaijani political refugees in Germany held a meeting with Frank Schwabe, a member of the Bundestag. They discussed issues including repression, press censorship, journalist arrests, and the plight of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Additionally, they addressed the targeting of Azerbaijani dissidents by the Aliyev regime in Europe. Mukhtarli also mentioned Zahid Oruj‘s recent statements and stressed the importance of imposing sanctions on Azerbaijani officials. He reminded Schwabe that they had appealed to the President of the Bundestag regarding this matter. Mukhtarli expressed confidence that the meeting would be productive.

Governance and Corruption

Two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Italian wrestler Frank Chamizo claims he faced defeat because he declined to take a bribe in Baku, Azerbaijan. Chamizo revealed that he turned down a $300,000 bribe during the European Olympic wrestling qualification tournament held in Baku last week. According to Chamizo, after a contentious late phone call, Turan Bayramov, an Azerbaijani wrestler, won the match. The Chamizo-Bayramov match concluded amidst a significant scandal, as the referee and judges rendered multiple questionable decisions favoring Bayramov. Chamizo leveled accusations of corruption against the judges. Chamizo shared his perspective on Instagram, attributing the decision to “a group of bribed and corrupt individuals,” and also raised additional allegations of corruption in the tournament to the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica. “I knew that I had to give double, triple in Azerbaijan, because I was fighting in their country and they had bought everyone,” Chamizo claimed in remarks made to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “I did it but then something happened that has echoes of wrestling many years ago. “So I want to say it, they came to me and offered me $300,000 to lose. I don’t want to say who but it happened on the morning of the weigh-in.” Chamizo said that he refused “because I don’t only represent myself, but also Italy … it’s not easy to break my integrity.”

The incident occurred towards the conclusion of the semifinal, with the scores level at 8-8. Chamizo secured two points, which would have secured his victory and qualification for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. Although the judges initially awarded him the points, a challenge from Bayramov’s coach was ultimately upheld. “I’m still shocked. Sad, in pain, full of shame for what happened,” Chamizo added in the interview. “The five judges made the same decision, recognizing that I put my opponent’s right knee on the ground, so I won.”

April 16, 2024