Center for National and International Studies
“Unfortunately, due to the fact that the courts in our country act as a notary of people who are maniacally trying to take revenge on me even while I am in prison, the only way to convey my voice to the public, international organizations, and decision-makers is to sacrifice my life…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The prison term of the activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has been extended until February 28. The decision was made on January 21 by the Khatai District Court. The minor charge of hooliganism against him was replaced with “hooliganism by resisting a representative of authority or another person”. Hajiyev has been on hunger strike for more than 25 days in protest against his illegal imprisonment.
Lawyer Rufat Safarov said that he is extremely concerned about Hajiyev’s health as the hunger strike has already had a huge impact on him. Safarov’s Facebook post: Bakhtiyar sent me a few words from prison...Most of them are private, so I can’t share them all. But those that really touched me are: “I have wasted half of my 40-year life…I’ll start dry starvation and end everything once and for all…” He deserves to live, to work for Azerbaijan, to use his skills and competence as a patriot, Ilham Aliyev! We won’t let you kill him easily! In this gray and suffocating environment you have created, we are even ready to perish for the sake of public interests…”
“Defense Line” Human Rights Organization shared Bakhtiyar Hajiyev‘s letter to Azerbaijani society. In his letter, Hajiyev says: I am on hunger strike, for 26 days, in protest against all the injustice, moral-psychological, judicial-legal pressures, insult and slander campaigns against me for the last two years without and the illegal arrest and the false charges against me while they protect their accomplices, the criminals. Every day I feel the consequences of the hunger strike more and more. Doctors regularly inform me about the possible consequences of starvation. Of course, I am also aware that my life and health is at risk. No one would voluntarily go through a long-term starvation process that would result in physical and mental complications if they survive or end their life. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the courts in our country act as a notary of people who are maniacally trying to take revenge on me even while I am in prison, the only way to convey my voice to the public, international organizations, and decision-makers with a state mind, if there are any, is to sacrifice my life. Many times I have faced threats, pressures, and challenges due to my activities for the release of political prisoners. Now, considering all the risks to my life and health, I expect support from the public. In a country where the judicial system has become a toy in the hands of a gang, no one is immune to anything. In order to protect ourselves, our children, our parents, and our relatives from such unjust judgments, we must ensure the rule of law in Azerbaijan sooner or later. Undoubtedly, one day the society that the founding fathers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic wanted to see will be established. However, this will not be done with silence against the injustices that happen around us every day and are increasing day by day, but with a joint struggle against injustice.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that by arresting Hajiyev, the regime shows that it has no intention of democratic reforms. “The arrest of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev exposes the political course chosen by the regime. With this arrest, the regime conveys the message that the Azerbaijani authorities will not pay attention to the calls for democracy from the West and intends to turn the country into Belarus. Therefore, demanding the freedom of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev today also means protesting against Azerbaijan becoming Belarus.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that the member of APFP Anar Arkivan was kidnapped by people in civilian clothes after visiting the Alley of Martyrs. Arkivan’s friends said that they were being watched by the police in civilian clothes during and after their visit to the Alley of Martyrs. According to the bystanders, Arkivan was strangled by six police officers, put in a car, and taken away in front of about a hundred people.
Member of the NCDF Tofig Yagublu was released after 30 days of imprisonment. Yagublu was detained in the center of Baku on December 23 during a protest demanding the release of activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. On the same day, the Sabail District Court arrested him for 30 days on charges of hooliganism and disobeying the police. Tofig Yagublu, who started a hunger strike in prison, was later transferred to the hospital because his health deteriorated. He was on a hunger strike for 18 days.
Governance and Corruption
On the 33rd anniversary of the January 20 massacre, a few members of the opposition Party APFP were detained after the visit to the Alley of Martyrs. Chairperson of the APFP Ali Karimli wrote on Facebook that after waiting for hours, they were finally able to visit the Alley of Martyrs. Thousands of people were kept waiting for several hours and were told that disinfection measures were taking place. Karimli said that the regime, which tried all kinds of trickery to prevent the opposition, actually shows how it avoids free competition and exposes itself more.”
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that the president is personally responsible for the repression against the opposition and the arbitrary arrests. “Ilham insists on being the only hero in Azerbaijan. The slander against individuals who have an important place in the history of Azerbaijan is carried out to please Ilham’s ego. Yesterday’s humiliation, police brutality, and the arrest of activists were carried out at Ilham’s request.”
The war veterans complain that the YAŞAT Fund is no longer able to support them in paying their medical expenses. Donations by the public have significantly dropped as inflation grows.
January 24, 2023