Center for National and International Studies



“The beating and killing of citizens in police stations and departments has become commonplace…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

In the past few days, new disturbing cases of police brutality and torture were reported by the families of victims. Sumgayıt resident Elvin Iskandarov died at the police station. Family members claim that he was in fact tortured to death. The 37-year-old Elvin Iskandarov was taken to the police station late at night on June 14 along with several people, including his brothers. During the night of June 15, relatives who came to check on the brothers were informed of Elvin’s death. According to family members, Elvin Iskandarov’s body showed signs of violence and injuries. Because of this, they believe that Elvin Iskandarov was tortured to death. His brothers, who were with him at the police station that night, also reported being beaten along with Elvin. They claim that police officers struck Elvin on the head multiple times. Turkhan Iskandarov stated that they were beaten and insulted as they were taken to the police station. He personally witnessed his brother being beaten, noting that Elvin’s condition worsened due to the blows, causing him to lose balance and fall to the ground. The Ministry of Internal Affairs denies the family’s claims that Elvin Iskandarov died as a result of torture.

The family of Izmir Rustamov, a resident of Shamkir, reports that he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment at the Zardab District Police Department. His sister, Amina Mammadova, said that the police committed inhumane acts against her brother: “They tortured my brother so severely that those who did it should not call themselves ‘human.’ The bleeding did not stop in the police station, so emergency services had to come several times. We know the names of those who committed these acts: Anar, Elman, Mirjafar.”

Twenty-four-year-old Izmir Rustamov has been in custody since June 8. He is charged under Articles 234.4.1 and 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code (acquisition, transportation, and storage of a large quantity of drugs by a group of people for the purpose of sale). Rustamov, was arrested along with his fellow villager Rovshan Bayramli, who faces the same charges. Both have been remanded in custody for four months during the preliminary investigation period.

Amina Mammadova also added that her brother is indeed a drug user and he went to Zardab with his fellow villager to buy drugs: “Izmir went to Zardab to buy 20 grams of hashish. It turns out that the police themselves lured them to Zardab under the pretense of being ‘Iranian.’ They set traps for drug users using such methods. They posed as sellers and said, ‘We have left it at such and such place; you can pick it up.’ When they went to get it, they were caught. I’m not saying that my brother is innocent. Yes, he is a drug user. But that doesn’t mean you should burden him with over two kilos of drugs. They create the image that they have caught two kilos of drugs. Izmir did not want to take responsibility for such a large quantity of drugs. That’s why he was tortured.”

Mammadova also added that her brother has been transferred to the Sheki Penitentiary Institution. Despite 10 days having passed since his arrest, he is still suffering from the effects of the torture.

Another notable case of police misconduct involves Mehman Aliyev. Mehman recorded and shared the police’s act of framing a citizen. In Shirvan, plainclothes police attempted to arrest a citizen who, in turn, cried out for help and cut his own wrist. Mehman, a member of the opposition, filmed and shared the entire incident. In another video related to this incident, it is evident that a police officer named Bahruz tried to persuade Mehman to delete the video from his phone. Mehman refused. A few days after this incident, Mehman was framed and arrested on the widely used charge of drug possession, a common tactic used against opposition members in contemporary Azerbaijan.

Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces Jamil Hasanli commented on the recent torture cases in the detention centers saying that “police misconduct is rampant in the country.” Hasanli’s social media post: “The beating and killing of citizens in police stations and departments has become commonplace. In Sumgayıt, Elvin Iskandarov was beaten to death in the 1st police department. Family members say the beating and torture occurred right in front of their eyes. One of the most notable cases of police misconduct involves Mehman Aliyev. Elvin’s brother, Turxan Isgandarov, who witnessed the incident, says that on the night of June 14, during an argument near their home, the police used force against his disabled brother, Jabrail Isgandarov, who has paralysis. Elvin Isgandarov, who tried to rescue his brother from the police, was also subjected to violence. Incidentally, injury marks on the body of the paralyzed Turxan Isgandarov were shown on social media. According to witnesses, the torture of Elvin continued in the police station and ultimately resulted in his death. The emergency services, which arrived 40 minutes later, declared that Elvin was already dead. The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that Elvin Isgandarov allegedly died from cirrhosis and a heart attack. However, his family claims he had no such illnesses and that they saw signs of violence—injury marks—on his body.”

On June 14, after a trial at the Baku Serious Crimes Court, Elnur Hasanov, a member of the Narimanov District Branch of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (AXCP), resumed a dry hunger strike. During a phone call with his family, Hasanov stated that he was innocent and was arrested for protesting police misconduct. “I have been on hunger strike three times during the eight months I have been imprisoned. The first time, on April 25, seeing my poor condition, a person who spoke to me via video promised that I would be released within a month. After they didn’t keep their promise, I started another hunger strike. This time, in the presence of Elchin Islamov, a martyr’s father who is dearer to me than my own father, they promised to fulfill their words if I stopped the strike. However, during the trial on June 14, and the previous hearing on May 31, 2024, when I told the judge that I was brutally beaten and tortured, Judge Javid Huseynov, instead of addressing the issue, showed his fear of the penitentiary convoy. He deliberately postponed the trial until August 2. This is the true face of this government. The police, the judge, and the convoy all follow orders.”

Hasanov said that, after all these, he decided to start a dry hunger strike on June 14, and he doesn’t think that he will survive this time. He also added that if one day he was reported to be dead of a heart attack or committed suicide, no one should believe in it as it is the regime itself that actually trying to kill him. Hasanov stated that he was detained by “the gangster minister of Ilham Aliyev, Vilayat Eyvazov, and subjected to torture on the orders of Minister of Justice Farid Ahmadov and Chief of the Penitentiary Service Mirsaleh Seyidov”.

Nigar Hezi, daughter of political prisoner Tofig Yagublu, revealed details of the attempts made by the police to hack Yagublu’s phone. Hezi: “Since the investigation had concluded, I retrieved the notebook and the phones belonging to my father and mother that were taken during the search from investigator Abdulla Jalilli. Naturally, the most important item for me was my father’s phone, as all the evidence proving his innocence was on it. To check for any interference, I turned on the phone. As soon as I did, it showed that the phone had been blocked for one hour. Someone had tried to unlock the screen multiple times, resulting in the phone being blocked. It seems the investigator had made several attempts before handing it back to me. After the phone was unblocked, I could have a look at it. My father had never used his phone without a case. When I removed the case, I saw that the back of the phone was covered with fingerprints. Who knows how many police officers had tried to unlock the phone? When I restarted the phone, I discovered that Tofig Yagublu‘s Facebook account had been hacked. His registered email was removed and replaced with an email created by the Narimanov Police Department: tofigyagublu2013. The police had seized Tofig Yagublu‘s Facebook profile using his identity card. Interestingly, they had not deleted Tofig Yagublu‘s posts, likely to avoid drawing attention. During his 2020 arrest, the Nizami District Police Department had tampered with Tofig Yagublu‘s phone and deleted a year’s worth of posts. When I tried to open his Facebook page, another profile named Seyyaf Aghazade appeared on the screen (if this profile is on someone’s friend list, know that he works for the police). However, since they could not gain access to Tofig Yagublu‘s email, we had evidence to expose the crimes of the Narimanov Police Department.”

Moreover, Hezi also addressed the issue of privacy and lack of professional ethics. Hezi: “If investigator Abdulla Jalilli was genuinely investigating the case, why didn’t he examine the phone in Tofiq Yagublu‘s presence? Why did he try to unlock the phone secretly, like a criminal? Why didn’t Abdulla Jalilli ask Tofig Yagublu to show the messages to the informant Elnur Mammadov? The investigator’s interference with Tofig Yagublu‘s phone is an invasion of privacy, a serious legal violation, and a crime. The investigator did not investigate a crime; instead, he committed crimes and fabricated documents to create a false case, executing orders from Ilham Aliyev.”

Governance and Corruption

“Paris’ policy in the South Caucasus is ineffective,” according to Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the President of Azerbaijan. “The implementation of France’s militarization policy in the region is a serious blow to the process of normalizing relations between Baku and Yerevan at a time when serious steps are being taken towards the peaceful transformation of the South Caucasus. We believe that France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, should pursue a more responsible policy,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry outlined the main conditions for peace with Armenia: “The main condition for signing a real and lasting peace treaty is the cessation of Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan, which are enshrined in numerous legal and political documents of this country, in particular, in the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, which directly refers to the Act of Independence of Armenia calling for unification with Karabakh.” Moreover, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused Armenia by stating that “Armenia resorts to political manipulation, trying to create the image of a peaceful country. Armenia’s policy, aimed at creating new tensions in the region and obstructing peace and stability, will yield no results”.  

June 21, 2024