of Azerbaijani civil society activists and representatives
to the UN Committee Against Torture and European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
on the cases of politically motivated torture in Azerbaijan
For the attention of:
The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Azerbaijan
The United Nations Human Rights Council
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
We – Azerbaijani civil society representatives – are witnessing the increase of political
persecution and pressure in the country in the last month by various authorities, including law
enforcement bodies, against those who are peacefully expressing their political views. We are
deeply concerned about public smearing campaigns against political activists, their groundless
administrative detentions, and physical and psychological tortures. For instance, the peaceful
rally planned by the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) on the 19th of October in
central Baku was accompanied by brutal interference of the police which resulted in scores of
citizens getting bodily injured, detained and arrested.
Those who were detained by police, including Ali Karimli, the leader of the Popular Front
Party, Tofig Yagublu, a prominent member of the Musavat Party and a board member of
NCDF, his and dozens of rally participants were brutally beaten and faced inhumane treatment.
Moreover, in the run-up to and after the 19 October rally, politically-motivated criminal cases
were filed against two opposition activists and another 17 people faced administrative
detention. In total, 31 people have been detained during the rally.
In another rally a day later on 20 October, the police again used excessive force against peaceful
rally-goers and journalists resulting in bodily injuries. The rally participants protested violence
against women. We have received information that the authorities harassed participants and
their family members a day before the rally.
The protection of freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression is crucial for
ensuring the citizen-state dialogue and for creating a space for political parties and civil society
organizations to function. We have repeatedly called Azerbaijani Government to guarantee the
political freedoms stipulated in the national legislation and international documents.
Unfortunately, the authorities continue to systematically restrict these freedoms through
various forms of pressure including torture.
We declare that, currently, the situation of human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan is in crisis.
We believe this necessitates the intervention of international organizations in order to bring an
end to the use of inhuman methods, including torture, against political activists and to ensure
the enjoyment of freedom of assembly. Therefore, we are calling for the following actions:
- The UN Committee Against Torture and European Committee for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment should launch fact-
finding missions into Azerbaijan and investigate the above-mentioned cases by the end
of this year.
- The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan should ensure
that local human rights defenders and international organizations can monitor the
detention facilities and prisons in a transparent manner.
- The statements of law-enforcement bodies of Azerbaijan should be closely examined
to check the level of impunity for those officers who are mentioned in the complaints
of victims of torture, including political activists.
We condemn the arrest, torture and other inhumane treatment that citizens face for enjoying
their right to peaceful assembly. We express our regret that the relevant bodies of the UN, the
OSCE and the Council of Europe remain silent on the violations of human rights mentioned
above. We hope that the intervention of these organizations will result in the release of those
who were arrested or detained because of their participation in peaceful rallies and police
officers who have taken part in violent and inhumane treatment of political activists and
journalists will be held responsible for their actions.
The list of signatories:
- Arzu Abdullayeva, Azerbaijan National Committee of Helsinki Citizens Assembly
- Anar Mammadli, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
- Akif Gurbanli, Institute for Democratic Initiatives
- Bashir Suleymanli, Institute for Citizens’ Rights
- Fuad Hasanov, Democracy Monitor
- Intigam Aliyev, Legal Education Society
- Khadija Ismayılova, Investigative Journalist
- Khalid Aghaliyev, Media Rights Institute
- Qubad Ibadoglu, Public Initiatives Center
- Leyla Aliyeva, The Center for National and International Studies
- Mehman Aliyev, Turan Information Agency
- Mehman Huseynov, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
- Rasul Jafarov, Human Rights Club
- Rovshan Hajibayli, Democratic Journalism School
- Samad Rahimli, Human Rights Lawyer
- Samir Kazimli, Human Rights Defender
- Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development
- Shahvalad Chobanoglu, Column writer
- Yalchin Imanov, Human Rights Lawyer
- Ulvi Hasanli, Nida Civic Movement
- Zohrab Ismayıl, Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy
November 7, 2019