Center for National and International Studies



“The political authorities, through systematic and extensive repressions, aim not only to physically punish and wear us down but also to discredit us in the eyes of the public by resorting to all sorts of slander and false accusations…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

On Thursday another detention was carried out in Baku. Economist Farid Mehralizadeh was detained, as reported by journalist Aytaj Tapdig, who noted on her social media that police officers took Mehralizadeh away in a black car in front of his house. Also, his wife, women’s rights researcher Nargiz Mukhtarova, could not be reached for information. Nargiz Mukhtarova is five months pregnant. There was also no news from activist Mesud Asger. The Ministry of Internal Affairs Press Service later reported that Farid Mehralizadeh was invited by the police and an investigation is underway. Later, it was confirmed that Nargiz Mukhtarova and activist Mesud Asger had not been detained, but their phones had been confiscated by the police. Both of them try to get information about Farid in front of the Baku City Main Police Department, as reported by journalist Ulviyya Ali.

Activist Elgiz Gahraman has once again been summoned for questioning at the Baku City Main Police Department (BCMPD). Gahraman himself has confirmed this. He disclosed that he received a summons to appear at the BCMPD on May 28th to undergo questioning as a witness, without being provided any explanation for the repeat summons. Previously, on May 2nd, Gahraman was summoned to the BCMPD to be questioned as a witness in the ‘Abzas Media case,’ a high-profile case involving the arrest of several individuals, including leaders and employees of ‘Abzas Media,’ on charges of ‘smuggling.’ They deny these charges, asserting their arrests are linked to their professional activities.

Since November of last year, a number of journalists and civil society representatives have been detained and brought in for questioning by the police in Azerbaijan under various criminal pretexts. Most recently, on April 18th, Imran Aliyev, the head of the ‘meclis.info’ website, which monitors parliamentary activities, and on April 30th, Anar Mammadli, the head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, was arrested on charges of ‘smuggling.’ The police allege their involvement in the ‘Abzas Media case.’ Earlier, 6 individuals, including leaders and employees of ‘Abzas Media,’ were arrested on similar charges, which they deny, asserting their arrests are linked to their professional activities. Both local and international human rights organizations view these arrests as politically motivated.

A group of political exiles hold a protest in front of the Azerbaijani embassy in Berlin on the occasion of Republic Day. The participants of the protest are demanding the release of political prisoners and the protection of the rights of Azerbaijani citizens.”

On May 27, the Baku Court of Appeal did not grant the complaints against the one-month extension of the detention periods of Aziz Orujov, the head of ‘Kanal 13‘ Internet TV, and Shamo Eminov, an employee of this media outlet. This was reported to Turan by Orujov‘s wife, Lamiya Orujova, and Eminov’s lawyer, Alibaba Rzayev. The defense considers the detention of the journalists and, in general, their prosecution to be baseless.”

During his court hearing, political detainee Akif Gurbanov delivered touching and impactful remarks addressing human rights infringements in Azerbaijan. Gurbanov: “Dear court, although we have not committed any violations of the law or engaged in any actions that would harm our society and country, the authorities have subjected us to their repression machine. The political authorities, through these systematic and extensive repressions, aim not only to physically punish and wear us down but also to discredit us in the eyes of the public by resorting to all sorts of slander and false accusations. In doing so, they do not hesitate, feel ashamed, or have any red lines in involving not only ourselves but also our family members, those close to us, who have no involvement in our public activities and are simply in personal relationships with us. Of course, by stating these thoughts, I do not intend to scare people or suggest that these actions have shaken us. These steps do not deter us for even a moment from our beliefs, values, and principles that we draw moral strength from. I simply want to convey the mindset that leads our country and controls our society, and at the same time, express my pity for them. Just as everyone acts in a manner that suits them, I intend to draw public attention to what these actions reveal about their character.”

Nigar Hezi, the daughter of opposition figure Tofig Yagublu, remarked that despite her father’s month-long detention, the investigation finally comes to an end without yielding any results. Hezi: “Since the investigation period in the case of Tofig Yagublu has concluded, the lawyers have filed a petition in court to replace his detention with house arrest. The court hearing will be either tomorrow or the day after. As the investigation has ended, I will now publicize the details that prove the criminal case is fake and fabricated. Until now, I deliberately refrained from writing anything related to the criminal case. I can say that to accuse Tofig Yagublu of forging documents, investigator Abdulla Jalilli has prepared a substantial amount of false documentation.”

The latest complaint of investigative journalist Hafiz Babali, who was arrested in the ‘Abzas Media‘ case, has not been granted. The journalist, who was arrested on charges of currency smuggling on December 13 last year, stated that his detention was baseless and appealed to the Prosecutor General in connection with the unlawful criminal prosecution. The journalist’s relatives reported this to Turan. In his appeal, Hafiz Babali noted that investigator Toghrul Huseynov of the Baku City Police Department and prosecutor Mobil Shafiev of the Baku City Prosecutor’s Office unjustifiably ensured his arrest and later the extension of his initial detention period. In this regard, he demanded the termination of the criminal case. However, the Prosecutor General’s Office responded that ‘the investigation is ongoing, and an appropriate decision will be made based on its results.’

In the Abzas Media case, on November 20 last year, Ulvi Hasanli, the director of ‘Abzas Media,’ and his deputy, Muhammad Kekalov, were detained. On November 21, the chief editor of the site, Sevinj Vagifgizi, was detained. On November 30, reporter Nargiz Absalamova was detained. On December 13, investigative journalist Hafiz Babali was detained. On January 13, journalist Elnara Gasimova was detained. They were all charged under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code (smuggling committed by a group of persons in prior agreement), and preventive detention measures were chosen against them. Since February of this year, the detention period of the arrested journalists has been extended. Most recently, on May 25, the detention measure against journalist Nargiz Absalamova was extended for another 22 days for the second time. If the court considers the prosecution’s charges justified during the investigation, the journalists face up to 8 years of imprisonment. The journalists, however, reject the charges and link their arrests to the corruption investigations published on Abzas Media.

Teymur Karimov, the head of the internet television channel ‘Kanal 11’ and an imprisoned journalist, claims he was falsely arrested due to his reports about police misconduct. Teymur Karimov says that although he was beaten, he refused to admit to having drugs: ‘They told me that no one has failed to confess here, and you will too. Then they changed their minds. One said to the other that drugs don’t suit a journalist, so it’s better to charge him with 182 (extortion by threat). The colonel told them to hit in places where it wouldn’t show. When they took me to the investigator, he said, “The order came from above,” so it’s better for you not to get yourself beaten up, we’ll charge you under Article 182.1, which carries a sentence of 2 to 5 years. I still didn’t agree. They beat me a lot. Finally, one came and gave the order to rape me. I said, ‘If that’s the case, I’d accept the charges.’ Teymur Karimov also stated that when he said he would complain to the Presidential Administration about the illegalities against him at the Organized Crime Department, the deputy chief made inappropriate comments about the President.

The Gabala Police committed illegal actions against the journalist and activist Fatima Movlanli. She wrote about the accident on social media: “I have been in Gabala for several days now. I came both to relax and to prepare a report on household waste being discharged into the ‘Vendamchay’ river in the village of Vendam. Since I wrote about this on my page (yesterday), we have felt that we were being followed. Today, around noon, we were having lunch at one of the cafes near the river with animal rights activist Nijat Ismayil. At that moment, Nijat received a call from a friend, so he went out into the yard to talk. Suddenly, I heard Nijat’s voice saying, ‘Why are you using force against me?’ Two officers (visible in the video) from the Gabala District Police Department detained Nijat, claiming he was using inappropriate language in public. I approached and started filming the incident. Just as they did with Nijat, they neither introduced themselves to me nor explained the reason for my detention. When they tried to put me in the car, they attempted to take my phone away. I had to hide my phone inside my underwear to protect the material. Then they took us to the police station. They asked for my phone. I refused. This same officer rolled up his sleeve, showed his fist, and said, ‘You will have to give it now.’ Then he grabbed my arms from behind, and another officer put his hand inside my underwear and took out the phone. Then he said to me, ‘You are an Azerbaijani woman, our honor does not tolerate such incidents.’ I replied, ‘Does your honor allow you to stick your hand into a woman’s underwear?’ They wanted me to delete the video. I said, ‘Even if you smash the phone, I won’t delete it. Even if I do, the video has already been backed up, and I will publish it anyway.’ Because of this and the publicization of the matter, they released us.”

May 31, 2024