Center for National and International Studies



“As you know, the regime does not favor such persons of courage, such brave individuals. No, it doesn’t just dislike them—it, in fact, hates them…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

According to reports, Niyamaddin Ahmadov, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), initiated a hunger strike at Detention Facility No. 12. The party spokesperson indicated that Ahmadov commenced the strike on March 15 and has been fasting for 7 consecutive days. “Ahmadov is in need of specific dietary supplements. However, the supplements sent to him were withheld, with authorities claiming they were prohibited. Furthermore, there have been obstacles in arranging visits with relatives. Additionally, the requested book, deemed to violate prison regulations, was denied to him. Ahmadov was placed in solitary confinement (disciplinary cell) for objecting to these limitations.” The APFP highlighted that upon his release from solitary confinement, Ahmadov‘s head was forcibly shaved. The party asserts that Ahmadov resorted to the hunger strike as a direct protest against these conditions. However, there has been a significant decline in Ahmadov‘s condition as he continues his hunger strike in prison. “Based on the information we’ve gathered, the situation of Niyamaddin Ahmadov, who is on hunger strike, has deteriorated. We call upon legal representatives and the public to take notice of Niyamaddin Ahmadov‘s plight. He has been on hunger strike for 13 days,” stated Saadat Jahangir, deputy chairman of the APFP.

The chair person of the APFP Ali Karimli commented on Ahmadov’s condition syaing that the regime takes revenge on Ahmadov for his firm belifes and strong character. “They are taking revenge on Niyamaddin Ahmadov. The young member of APFP, who has been my bodyguard, is now being subjected to revenge for his bravery, honesty, and principles. Niyamaddin endured severe torture during the interrogation period. However, neither the torture he endured nor his unjust 13-year imprisonment could force him into silence against injustice. Niyamaddin remains the same rebellious, courageous. Even in the penitentiary institution, he refuses to “suffer in silence,” protesting against the unlawful acts and injustices inflicted on other inmates. As you know, the regime does not favor such persons of courage, such brave individuals. No, it doesn’t just dislike them—it, in fact, hates them. Therefore, they do not leave Niyamaddin alone in prison. They provoke him, assault him, and even break his arm. To draw attention to the injustices he faces, Niyamaddin started a hunger strike.”

On March 23, Alaskar Mammadli, the co-founder of “Toplum TV” and an expert in media rights, currently detained at the Baku Investigative Detention Center, was granted a meeting with his brother, Nasimi Mammadli. Nasimi Mammadli shared details of the meeting with Meydan TV, revealing that it lasted for 12 minutes and marked their first encounter since Alesker‘s arrest. Nasimi Mammadli was allowed to communicate with Alesker Mammadli through glass. He emphasized, “Alesker has been unjustly detained on fabricated charges. His arrest solely stems from his initiative in establishing an independent, impartial, fair, and unbiased media platform free from censorship. As the founder of Toplum TV, he introduced an exemplary media outlet to society, where government, opposition, and independent voices could express themselves freely. Toplum TV swiftly became a platform for diverse viewpoints. Regrettably, sustaining such a vital media resource became impossible.”

Alesker Mammadli is among several media figures who were arrested in early March, marking what human rights activists describe as a new wave of repression in Azerbaijan. On March 6, law enforcement conducted a raid on the premises of “Toplum TV” and carried out searches at the residences of several staff members. It was reported that 30,000 euros were found at the office of the III Republic Platform, and 2,700 and 3,100 euros were found at the homes of several detainees. Akif Gurbanov, the spokesperson for the III Republic Platform, and employees of “Toplum TV” – Farid Ismayilov, Mushfig Jabbarov, Ali Zeynal, Ramil Babayev, Elmir Abbasov, and Ilkin Emrahov – are facing charges under Article 206.3.2 (smuggling) of the Criminal Code. Khatai District Court ordered pre-trial detention for “Toplum TV” video editor Mushfig Jabbarov for four months. Ali Zeynal was also sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention by court decision. Journalist Farid Ismayilov, associated with “Toplum TV,” and NIDA member Elmir Abbasov were released under police supervision. Lawyer Agil Layich stated that Alesker Mammadli, the founder of “Toplum TV,” was detained on March 8 by plainclothes individuals in front of the “Istanbul” Clinic. Ruslan Izzatli, a member of the III Republic Platform, was also taken from the Khatai District Police Department in a black car. Subsequently, searches were conducted at both individuals’ residences. Lawyer Agil Layich stated that an accusation report mentioned finding $7,300 in Alesker Mammadli‘s house. However, Alesker Mammadli claimed that the money was planted by operatives. Earlier, Alesker Mammadli‘s wife and brother, Nasimi Mammadli, reported that 60,000 euros were placed in their home, emphasizing that the money did not belong to Alesker Mammadli. On March 9, Alesker Mammadli was sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention for the initial investigation phase at the Khatai District Court.

Mammadli’s lawyer has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the decision of the Baku Court of Appeal. On March 15, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Khatai District Court dated March 9 to deprive Alesker Mammadli of his liberty for four months. Mammadli considers the decision unjust and demands that the custodial measure be replaced with house arrest. This information was provided to Meydan TV by Mammadli‘s brother, Nasimi Mammadli. According to him, Alesker Mammadli‘s detention prevents him from undergoing medical examinations recommended by doctors to assess the severity of the identified swellings: “A complaint has been filed with the ECHR pursuant to Article 39, which provides for urgent consideration of cases related to the serious illness of the complainant.”

Journalists held at Baku Detention Center No. 1 have voiced their discontent with the detention conditions. Sevinj Vaqifgizi (Abbasova), the chief editor of “Abzas Media,” raised this issue during the proceedings at the Baku Court of Appeals on March 19. However, the court did not address the journalist’s appeal regarding the extension of her four-month detention by an additional three months. According to a post on Lawyer Elchin Sadigov‘s Facebook page, Sevinj Vaqifgizi stated in court that the conditions at Baku Detention Center No. 1 are deplorable: “The situation in the cell where I am detained is dire. There is virtually no heating. The heating system in the cell has malfunctioned, resulting in flooding,” Vaqifgizi stated during the hearing. Journalist Nargiz Absalamova, also detained in connection with the “Abzas Media case” at the same detention center, has developed an eye infection. “Nargiz has contracted an eye infection and is also suffering from a cold. It appears that her immune system is compromised. The doctor has prescribed medication, and she is undergoing treatment,” wrote lawyer Shahla Humbatova on her Facebook page.

March 26, 2024