Center for National and International Studies



“Without the rules brought by the West, Aliyev would continue the official practice of executing arrested individuals by boiling them…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

On January 19, the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal seeking the release of investigative journalist Hafiz Babali to house arrest. Moreover, the Baku Court of Appeal has considered the appeal challenging the detention of Shamo Eminov, a staff member of “Channel 13” internet TV. According to lawyer Elchin Sadigov, the initial court decision remains unchanged.

On the same day, the Baku Court of Appeal affirmed the detention order against journalist Elnara Gasimova. It’s noteworthy that none of the appeals submitted by the journalists implicated in the AbzasMedia case have been approved, with the courts consistently rejecting their pleas.

On January 23, at 17:00, the court hearing for Afieddin Mammadov, the chairman of the Confederation of Workers’ Table Trade Unions, is scheduled at the Baku Court of Serious Crimes. Activists and human rights defenders on social media have urged everyone to attend the court hearing to show support for the imprisoned activist.

PACE Co-rapporteur Lise Christoffersen has been denied access to visit the imprisoned opposition leader Gubad Ibadoghlu, as reported by Ibadoghlu‘s daughter Zhale Bayramova. Bayramova revealed on social media that the PACE representative was barred from entering prisons, and her father remains hidden with no available photos. The decision of the European Court of Human Rights has not been enforced, and even the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been denied access to see Ibadoghlu.

Rail Abbasov, who faced persecution for his efforts to support activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, has seen his prison sentence extended by an additional 2 months, as ruled by the Nasimi District Court.

While none of the jailed journalists were granted house arrest, the former minister accused of embezzlement, Salim Muslimov, received house arrest. The Baku Serious Crimes Court pronounced the verdict for Muslimov, charged with bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of office. The court sentenced him to 5 years of probation, with property confiscation, rejecting the prosecutor’s request for a 13-year conditional imprisonment with a five-year probation period. Arrested in February 2021, Muslimov faced charges of embezzling around 20 million manats and was later placed under house arrest for health reasons. He served as the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population from 2013 to 2018.

Azadlig newspaper shared updated statistics on living standards and fundamental human rights in Azerbaijan. In the Social Progress Index, Azerbaijan ranks 99th, while Armenia holds the 50th position and Georgia the 52nd. Even Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are ahead of Azerbaijan in these rankings. The evaluation encompasses a broad range of indicators, including basic living standards, housing conditions, security, water and sanitation, health, information and communication technologies, basic education, higher education, environmental quality, inclusive development, rights, and self-expression, as well as freedoms and the right to choose.

Environmental activist Javid Gara has reported the illegal hunting of endangered species in Azerbaijan. He revealed that the tourists from Gulf countries in Azerbaijan, including those involved in hunting, are targeting rare species listed in the Red Book and sharing their illegal activities on social media. He emphasized that people at various levels, from hotel workers to shepherds and law enforcement officers, are complicit in these illegal activities, often accepting money to cover up the violations. Gara questioned the lack of intervention from Azerbaijani law enforcement officials and expressed concern about the ongoing systematic abuses.

Chairperson of the APFP Ali Karimli called on his followers on social media, urging them to protest against president Aliyev’s intention of staying in power for another seven years. KarimliWe should all object to Ilham Aliyev’s desire to  stay in power for life. Aliyev has maintained his position for 20 years through election fraud. The desire of Ilham Aliyev to extend his tenure for another 7 years should be a cause for protest for all of us. The “election” scheduled for February 7 will not be a genuine election but rather a circus labeled as an election. Consequently, both the opposition and the people have the right to boycott this election spectacle. However, discussions and actions related to this election circus should not overshadow a more significant, overarching threat to our nation. This global threat lies in the attempt of one-man rule in our country to establish a lifelong hold on power.”

Member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Fuad Gahramanli  stated that the police attempted to obstruct party members from paying tribute to the victims of Black January on the 34th anniversary. GahramanliUnfortunately, even today, the government, following its tradition, used a police cordon to divide party members and prevent a mass gathering. Despite these efforts, the party members persevered, with trolls carrying white flags being added to the mix in an attempt to disrupt the collective image.” Gahramanli mentioned that groups placed at the front were frequently stopped in an attempt to hinder the collective movement of party members. Despite these challenges, the party members patiently completed their pilgrimage and paid their respects to the memory of the martyrs.

Journalist Seymur Hezi wrote about the conditions and restrictions in the prisons within the state penitentiary service. Hezi said that although the Ministry of Justice, to which this institution, the state penitentiary service, is subordinate, confirmed that he is related to Tofig Yagublu, the Prison Service did not recognize this decision, and he was not allowed to see Yagublu. The journalist drew a comparison between the prison conditions and Guantanamo, highlighting that the usual meeting time is limited to only half an hour and is allowed only in a room behind glass. Hezi also noted that despite Azerbaijan being a part of the European Penitentiary rules, the state penitentiary services exhibit a total disregard for these rules. According to these regulations, maintaining the presumption of innocence during the investigation period is required. A person is considered innocent without a trial, and even due to this formality, cutting off direct contact with their relatives is not permissible. Violating these rules incurs liability and is a significant concern at the European Court of Human Rights.

During the initial day of the PACE winter session in Strasbourg, deputies decided to restrict the powers of the Azerbaijani delegation “due to the country’s breach of the organization’s principles.” German MP Frank Schwabe proposed this initiative, emphasizing ongoing human rights violations and an increasing number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He also highlighted the refusal of official Baku to invite the PACE delegation to assess the upcoming presidential elections on February 7.

Director of Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov commented on the recent repressions arguing that if it was not for the rules brought by the West Aliyev regime would treat Azerbaijanis with medieval methods. Goyushov’s post: The act of handcuffing journalists from behind and bringing them to the court is one of the obvious indicators of the identity of this government. If it weren’t for the rules brought by the West, Aliyev would still be officially slaughtering the arrested individuals by boiling them. The Saudi killer prince chopped the journalist into pieces and dissolved it in acid right inside the embassy. This is how far the dictators are from civilization. These dictators resent the West because the West prevents them from fully expressing their true identity. Otherwise, they would create “miracles”. Our dictator now, albeit falsely, creates an election spectacle, falsely convenes a parliament, names its leadership position the president, and calls the country a republic. All these have to be done in order to adapt to the rules brought by the West. Otherwise, if it were not for the rules brought by the West, Aliyev would have named himself not a president, but a Shahen Shah. He would not have needed the election spectacle; he would have turned prisons into medieval dungeons; would legalize torture, and build hills from the skulls of those he killed in villages and regions; would erect gallows in urban and rural centers. Every day, someone’s dead body would be hanging from those gallows. This is what Aliyev would love to do, but he is forced to hold a fake election and set up fake court shows just because of the West. A representative of the European Union recently said that he was horrified by the handcuffing of the journalist and that it is a humiliating treatment. In response, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs objected, implying, “We are savages, we are rude; mind your own business, and let’s manage our own affairs.” The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tacitly acknowledges that adherence to civilized norms restrains us from openly displaying our true savage nature.”

January 23, 2024