Three more political prisoners in Azerbaijan
On 2 October a Baku court convicted Arif Hajili, Chairman of the Musavat Party, Tural Abbasli, head of Musavats youth wing and Mahammad Majidli of the Popular Front Party to two and a half years in prison. They were convicted for “promoting social unrest” in connection with the 2 April pro-democracy protests. Their convictions adds to an already long list of political convictions in Azerbaijan in 2011, and comes just days after the Norwegian Helsinki Committee called for the release of Azerbaijani political prisoners at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
In Azerbaijan, there are currently some 70 political prisoners.
Other political prisoners in Azerbaijan include:
On 4 May 2011 youth activist Jabbar Savalan was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for alleged possession of drugs, a charge we recognise from a number of politically motivated convictions in Azerbaijan.
On 18 May 2011 29-year-old Harvard graduate Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, officially for having evaded military service. Hajiyev organised the “Great Peoples Day" Facebook action on 11 March in protest against the authorities. He was a candidate for the Popular Front opposition party in the parliamentary elections in November 2010.
On August 27, 2011, Goychay District Court sentenced Vidadi Isganderov, a human rights defender, to three years in prison. He was found guilty of interfering with the November 2010 parliamentary election. Isganderov was a candidate in the elections for the Agdash-Goychay electoral district. After the elections he submitted a complaint to the police and prosecutor’s office alleging vote rigging in his district. He provided materials, including video footage, in support of his allegations, but the authorities failed to investigate them. Instead, they brought charges against him.
Arif Alisli, Elnur Israfilov, Elsan Hasanov, Sahib Karimov, Zulfugar Eyvazli, and Babek Hasanov were arrested on April 2 and convicted to terms ranging from 18 months to 3 years for participating in unauthorized protests.
Ruslan Bashirli was a young activist and leader of a youth organisation called Yeni Fikir – New Thinking – was inspired by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2005 and hoped to gather support for a corresponding scenario. He was lured into a trap during a meeting in Georgia and was filmed accepting a small sum of money from someone who was later presented as an Armenian. This was enough for Ruslan to be sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for treason in the summer of 2006.
Mamedali Aliyev, a 70-year-old man was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment in 2008 for involvement in a so-called attempted coup in 1995. He had been in hiding for many years and several others who were convicted much earlier in the same case, called “The case of the generals”, were regarded as political prisoners by the Council of Europe. Aliyev is now very ill and has undergone a heart operation.