A call to the Azerbaijani society

The signatories of this appeal to the Azerbaijani government, the Azerbaijani people and the democratic global community are making it due to serious concern that torture and violence are becoming a political tool in Azerbaijan.

Unfortunately, in our country, the practice of “punishing” social and political activists, whom the government wishes to discredit, are subjected to physical violence, either by law enforcement (often by the police) or by unknown civil groups. The worst part of it all is that no legal action is taken against any of these illegal acts.Another such crime, which shocked the civil society of Azerbaijan, was committed on April 21, 2022 against political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. He was practically abducted and taken to an unknown address, where he was threatened, insulted and humiliated for his critical remarks about Interior Minister, Vilayat Eyvazov. He was pressured into deleting several of his posts on social media criticizing president Ilham Aliyev and Minister Eyvazov. Hajiyev himself made public statements about what happened. Following Hajiyev’s public statement, Interior Minister Eyvazov met with him and said he had nothing to do with the case, promising to find and punish the perpetrators. Although the poor examples we have seen so far prevent us from being optimistic about the minister’s promise, as a society, we expect the perpetrators of this crime to be found and brought to justice.

Otherwise, the crime will be seen to be silently confessed, as is the case with previous similar incidents in which the political authorities were responsible.

We would like to remind you that well-known public figures of Azerbaijani politics – chairman of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli, member of the National Council and Musavat Party Tofig Yagublu, and late independent MP Ibrahim Ibrahimli were severely tortured by police during a rally on October 19, 2019, but the prosecutor’s office and other government agencies had disavowed these facts which the whole of our society had witnessed. Tofig Yagublu was brutally beaten both inside and outside the police station after being detained during a rally demanding the release of political prisoner Saleh Rustamli in December 2021, and authorities tried to close the case with a ridiculous allegation that Tofig Yagublu had beaten himself. The facts of violence and torture against public and political activists before and after them were similarly covered up at the state level.

As the representatives of Azerbaijani civil society, we call on the country’s political leadership to stop anti-human acts such as physical violence and torture against its opponents and critics. If, as claimed by the authorities, the political authorities and official structures are not behind these actions, then the question of why the perpetrators of these crimes have not been found and brought to justice must be answered. Deceiving peopleby hiding behind general statements and buying time to get people to forget is not the way out. The Azerbaijani government must understand the challenges of a changing world, finally come to terms with the existence of a real opposition and civil society, independent media in the country, respect fundamental rights and freedoms, and refuse to see violence and repression as a political tool.

We also call on the democratic global community to take effective measures to remove violence and repression from Azerbaijani politics. Regrettably, the international community also has a role to play in the Azerbaijani government’s ability to treat its rivals and critics the way it does. The fact that violence and repression was set to become state politics became apparent starting with the Nardaran operation against people of faith, against the military during the Tartar incident (at least 12 of them were tortured to death) and the severe torture of dozens of social activists, starting with the torture of PFPA chair and members follwoing the Garabagh rally of 2020.

That is when the international community should have reacted decisively and managed to dissuade the Azerbaijani government from repeating such actions. Unfortunately, the international community did not condemn the continuing restriction of human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan, a European country – nor the elimination of political competition, free media, independent judiciary and advocacy, the constant falsification of elections, corruption in public policy, the unresolved political prisoners issue – enough to reform it.

On the contrary, despite such a flawed environment that undermines the values ​​and principles of the democratic community, it has worked closely with the Azerbaijani government, which has given it a perceived licence to strengthen authoritarianism in the country. As a result of this process that we have witnessed, physical force and torture is freely being used against any critic of the government, regardless of their status or position within society, without fear of any repercussions.At least now, the global democratic community must show that it is willing to protect its values ​​and principles in Azerbaijan, and demand the Azerbaijani government to build its relations with society in accordance with its obligations to the world.

Finally, we call on the people of Azerbaijan to take an active civic stance at this stage in a more mass, more organized manner, for a brighter future and a place amongst the free and democratic countries of the world. Generally, we are currently in such a difficult situation that the struggle of one or more groups of political activists is insufficient to the establishment of the fundamental rights and freedoms that are indispensable for our people and state as a whole. The broader population must recognize their civic responsibility to the state and the nation, and join and contribute to this work as best as and to the extent that they can.

*This petition is open for signing, and the names of the signatories will be addressed to international organizations by adding the names of the signatories in the coming hours.

Mehman Aliyev, Director of Turan Information Agency

Anar Mammadli, human rights activist

Natig Javadli, journalist Annagi Hajibeyli, lawyer

Shamshad Aga, journalist

Chingiz Sultansoy, journalist

Rovshan Hajibeyli, journalist

Arif Shahmarli, diplomat

Rustəm İsmayilbeyli, activist

Zafar Ahmadov, human rights defender

Shahveled Chobanoglu, journalist

Elnur Sadigov, activist

Dashgin Agalarli, activist

Gullu Jahangir, activist

Keramet Boyukchol, writer

Alex Raufoglu, journalist

Rufət Safarov, human rights

defender Zaur Akbar, human rights defender

Afgan Muxtarli, journalist Rauf Mirgadirov, journalist

Ahmad Mammadli, D18 Movement, chairman

Ramil Sadigli, activist

Huseyn Melik, activist

Khayyam Chelebi, activist

Beytulla Valiyev, activist

Mushfig Hasanbeyli, activist

Baba Suleyman, activist

Avtandil Mammadov, human rights defender

Asif Kazimsoy, activist

Emil Salim, politician

Kavkaz Jafarov, politician

Elchin Hasanzade, journalist

Fikret Faramazoglu, journalist

Yusuf Abulov, activist

Samir Pashayev, activist

Elsever Heydarov, activist

Sarvan Rizvanov, activist

Bahman Azad, activist

Esmira Askerova, activist

Nijat Nizamov, activist

Natig İsbatov, journalist

Vusal Teymurov, activist

Gadir Jabbarov, activist, economist

Mehman Shirinov, activist

Aziz Mamiyev, political activist

Huseyn Rzayev, activist

Yaver Mammadov, activist

Anar Amralizade, activist

Mehdi Nagiyev, activist

Ulviyya Khalil, activist

Araz Shukurov, activist

Emil Mammadov, human rights defender

Javanshir Agayev, activist

Beydulla Manaf, journalist

Elturan Rustamli, activist

Najafali Jahangirli, activist

Bahram Rahim, activist

Namig Telmanoglu, activist

Zahid Salahov, activist

Alik Gafarov, activist

Farid Mammadov, activist

Nazim Baydamirli, businessman

Saadat Jahangir, poetess, political activist

Latafat Malikova, human rights defender

Natiq Adilov, journalist

Samira Agayeva, human rights defender

Ali Shamil, scientist

Fuad Hasanov, human rights defender

Saday Shakarli, poet

Saygin Rustamli, human rights defender

Hafiz Babali, journalist

İlham Hasan, politician

Gulu Mammadli, pedagogue

Jamil Mammadli, journalist

Fuad Ahmadli, human rights defender

Vidadi Mammadov, journalist, writer

Araz Gunduz, literary translator