Center for National and International Studies



“To those who have separated a father from his child with false accusations, may you experience the same pain…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Activist Ilhamiz Guliyev asserted that the criminal case against him was fabricated. At the Baku Grave Crimes Court, the indictment in Guliyev’s case was announced. He denied the charge of illegal drug trafficking and maintained that the case was fabricated. At the beginning of the hearing, Guliyev petitioned for the return of his mobile phone, which had been taken during his detention. He claimed the phone contained photos of the operatives who had tracked and detained him. However, the court did not consider the petition. Subsequently, the indictment under Article 234.4.3 (illegal circulation of large quantities of narcotics) was read out. Guliyev pleaded not guilty and linked the charges to his interview with “Abzas Media,” where he spoke as an expert. In the interview, Guliyev, a former assistant investigator, revealed that police plant drugs on individuals detained for political reasons. Following this interview, Guliyev was detained for 30 days in early October 2023. His mobile phone was confiscated during this period and not returned upon his release. After being released, Guliyev discovered his social media accounts had been hacked and realized that criminal charges might be imminent. Consequently, he underwent an examination at a narcological dispensary and obtained a medical report confirming he was not a drug user. Additionally, he noticed plainclothes individuals following him. In court, Guliyev stated that he was subjected to physical violence during his detention and was beaten in a police car. At the Yasamal District Police Department, the investigator informed him of an “order” to open a criminal case against him. He was threatened with physical harm and forced to sign a confession. The next court hearing is scheduled for June 6.

Elkhan Aliyev, an imprisoned activist of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP), has reportedly been on hunger strike at the Baku Detention Center in Kurdakhani since May 15. According to his relatives, Aliyev, who is protesting his detention despite not committing any crime, has been on a dry hunger strike for three days, refusing both food and water. His wife, Shahnaz Aliyeva, says that due to his hunger strike, Elkhan Aliyev has faced pressure and threats in the detention center. She claims that her husband has even been threatened with death by representatives of the Penitentiary Service. Aliyev informed his family of this during a phone call on May 16, raising concerns about his safety among his relatives. His wife emphasized that Elkhan Aliyev has serious health issues, and the hunger strike could further deteriorate his condition and endanger his life: “He has had two strokes before. His blood pressure rises daily, and he suffers from heart pain. According to the doctors, he had a micro-heart attack while in detention.”

Attempts to obtain a response from the Penitentiary Service regarding Elkhan Aliyev’s hunger strike and the reported threats have been unsuccessful. On May 13, the AXCP activist announced at the Baku Court of Appeals that he would begin a “death hunger strike” on May 15, refusing food and water. He stated that he was taking this drastic step to protest his illegal detention, claiming that he has been held for 10 months on political orders without committing any crime.

Gunel Manafli, the wife of political prisoner Ruslan Izzetli and a journalist, shared a touching story about their son missing his father, who is in a detention center. “Ruslan Izzetli called yesterday. Our child, Ozal, talked with his father for quite a while. It was as if he knew their time was short, so he quickly strung his sentences together: ‘Dad, it’s raining in Azerbaijan, and the wind is blowing so hard that the trees look like they might uproot. It’s showing rain in Turkey too.’ (He asks me whenever it’s windy or rainy here if it’s the same where his dad is). ‘Don’t go outside, the trees might fall on you.’ He runs to the window to look at the weather… he comes back and wants to talk to his dad again, ‘Give me the phone… Dad, I sent you a voice message on WhatsApp, and also the toys I want, did you see them?’ Ruslan says, ‘Yes, I’ve listened to all of them, I’ll get them all….’ In the end, with tears in his eyes, ‘Dad, come soon… I miss you… I love you…’ Ruslan says, ‘I miss you too, I’ll come, I love you very much…’ And then the time runs out….To those who have separated a father from his child with false accusations, may you long for your child! May you experience the same thing!”

Members of the “Traffic Light” Coalition in the German Parliament, Renata Alt (FDP), Boris Mijatović (Greens), and Frank Schwabe (SPD), have issued a statement calling for the release of Gubad Ibadoglu and other political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The statement welcomes the change of the pretrial detention measure for opposition politician and economist Gubad Ibadoglu to house arrest. “However, his health condition has severely deteriorated, and there are issues with his medication supply. Therefore, we demand that doctors regularly visit him and provide the urgent medical assistance he needs. We also demand that members of the diplomatic corps and international journalists be granted access to court sessions and that the trials be conducted transparently,” the statement further says. In addition to Gubad Ibadoglu, the release of Imran Aliyev, Ilhamiz Guliyev, and nearly three hundred other political prisoners is requested, or at least fair and transparent trials and humane prison conditions for them.

In May 2017, over 60 soldiers and officers in Beylagan were subjected to torture, resulting in the death of a lieutenant. The appeal court has modified the verdict concerning General Bakir Orujov, the former head of the Ideological Work and Moral-Psychological Support Department of the Main Personnel Department of the Ministry of Defense, who was implicated in this case. The Baku Court of Appeal concluded that General Orujov was not responsible for the death of Lieutenant Adil Sabirli. Consequently, the charge under Article 126.3 of the Criminal Code (intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm resulting in death) has been removed from the accusations against him. The general’s sentence, originally 9 years and 6 months of imprisonment handed down by the Baku Military Court, has been reduced to 6 years and 6 months. The verdicts for four others tried alongside Bakir Orujov for the Beylagan tortures have also been changed. These individuals are Intigam Mammadov, an investigator from the Ministry of Defense’s Legal Department who was sent to Beylagan during the events; Rahib Mammadov, former deputy head of the investigation department of the Beylagan corps; Ziya Kazimov, former commander of the sniper company; and Colonel-Lieutenant Ulvi Rashidov, an instructor of the corps.

Governance and Corruption

President Aliyev issued a statement following the helicopter crash that killed the Iranian president and his entourage, expressing shock and extending condolences to the Iranian people. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has declared five days of mourning following the death of the country’s President, Ebrahim Raisi. President Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area of north-western Iran, along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. State media confirmed their deaths after the helicopter they were traveling in crashed on Sunday near the Azerbaijani-Iranina border. Initially, it was reported that the helicopter had made a hard landing in foggy conditions. The crash site is near the border with Azerbaijan, where President Raisi had been meeting with President Ilham Aliyev. The two presidents were there to inaugurate the Giz Galasi and Khodaafarin dams. On Monday, the Iranian Red Crescent confirmed the recovery of the bodies of President Raisi and others who perished in the crash, and announced the end of search operations.

Following the confirmed news of Iranian President Raisi’s death, Iran’s First Vice President, Mohammad Mokhber, will assume the presidency with the Supreme Leader’s approval, as stipulated by Article 131 of the Islamic Republic’s constitution. This article also mandates that a council comprising the head of the legislature, the head of the judiciary, and the vice president must coordinate the selection of a new president within 50 days. Last year, the regime brutally suppressed widespread public protests across the country, killing at least 500 protesters and arresting around 30,000 people. The widespread protests in Iran erupted in response to the killing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody in 2022 after being arrested for allegedly violating rules requiring women to wear the headscarf.

May 21, 2024