Center for National and International Studies



“There is no legal option, and I had no choice but to starve to death to fight for my right to freedom…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties

The activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev continues his hunger strike, protesting against his illegal arrest. Being on hunger strike for more than 40 days and not able to walk or talk, in his letter, the activist complained about the detention conditions and the ill-treatment he receives in prison. According to him, there are people in his cell who are constantly disturbing him and not letting him sleep. They also eat and drink in front of him to irritate him. Hajiyev’s letter from prison: If anything happens to me, Ilham Aliyev will be responsible. It is Ilham Aliyev who has put me in jail. I will not stop the hunger strike and will leave this prison either dead or alive. Unfortunately, there is no one who would stop these revengeful people. There is no legal option, and I had no other choice than to starve to death to fight for my right to freedom.”

On Monday, the Court of Appeal rejected  Hajiyev’s lawyer’s appeal for home arrest.  A group of young activists protested in front of the Court against the decision. Police used violence against the protestors, and the members of the D18 Movement Afiaddin Mammadov and Samir Sultanov were taken to the police station.

Lawyer Shahla Humbatova said that although she went to the prison to visit Hajiyev she was not allowed to see him. Humbatova: “I went to the penitentiary service in the morning to meet with Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. After the test result and my documents were inspected, and my bag was checked ( which is illegal) on the way to the meeting room, I was informed that I would not be allowed to see him. I waited for more than an hour and then was told that the meeting is not allowed as it was not a work day. Bakhtiyar refused to drink water since February 16, and we don’t have any information about his health.”

Journalist Seymur Hezi said that the regime doesn’t want to create a precedent by releasing Hajiyev. Hezi: “Ilham Aliyev does not release Bakhtiyar Hajiyev because he doesn’t want the rest of the prisoners, who are also innocent, to go on a hunger strike to demand freedom. Those who are on hunger strike are doing so that Ilham Aliyev will not be able to arrest anyone again. Bakhtiyar‘s condition is extremely critical. The government is responsible for his fate. But there is something that is also very important. The political regime is forced to understand that it can not continue the arbitrary arrests of innocent people.”

Azerbaijani immigrants living in Germany held a protest in front of the hotel where the Munich Security Conference was held. One of the organizers of the rally, the journalist Afghan Mukhtarli told Meydan TV that they could chant their slogans when Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his assistant Hikmet Hajiyev arrived in the building. They demanded freedom for political prisoners such as Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. However, according to Mukhtarli, a group of provocateurs who are believed to work at Azerbaijani House in Munich tried to prevent the protestors. The journalist said that a person called Sattar Karimov verbally attacked and insulted the protestors. Mukhtarli’s post about the protest: “I have always said that Aliyevs brought immorality, slander, intrusion into intimate life and depravity into Azerbaijani politics. Aliyevs defamed the opposition on TV channels. He spread intimate photos from the bedrooms of his critics. The current state of socio-political immorality is the outcome of Aliyev’s policies.”

Chairperson of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli said that the current repressions would only result in sanctions against the regime. Karimli’s Facebook post: “The political arrests, the attempts to destroy the country’s opposition and the free media will lead to worsen the image of the country,  lose friends, sanctions and strengthen the position of Armenian separatists. Ilham Aliyev has no right to sacrifice the interests of our country to further extend his rule.”

Governance and Corruption

Femicides have grown steadily recently in Azerbaijan. Nine women were killed in the last nineteenth days. They were all killed by their male family members as a result of domestic disputes. Despite the calls from local women rights organizations, the government has not responded to the disturbing statistics.

Member of the Parliament made a controversial statement at the plenary session of the Milli Majlis. The MP Azer Badamov suggested that a new capital city should be built and named after former president Haydar Aliyev. He added that the construction of the future capital should start this year, which is the 100th anniversary of the former president. Badamov argued that this would also eliminate traffic jams and other problems in Baku.  

February 21, 2023