Azerbaijan
05.06.03
Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan: arbitrary arrests and attacks on demonstrators

Case AZE 050603

Arbitrary arrests and detention / Violation of personal integrity / Disappearance


The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, a member of the OMCT network, of the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in Azerbaijan.

According to the information received, on May 25th, 2003, a peaceful demonstration protesting events that had occurred in Parliament several days before was violently suppressed by the police, leading to multiple arrests, detentions and serious injuries. On May 23rd, 2003 Abiyev, a Member of Parliament and a governmental party member, insulted another Member of Parliament and member of the opposition, Ali Kerimli. A disciplinarian meeting was held afterwards to discuss the events of the earlier meeting and determine what action should be taken. During this meeting, however, the controlling party refused to hear the opinions of the opposition party, the ones insulted in the verbal attack. Members of the opposition party walked out of the meeting protesting their inability to speak and “lack of protection of their dignity.” When one of opposition MPs tried to submit a joint statement from opposition MPs to the Chairman of Parliament, Mr.Murtuz Alesgerov, the statement was not accepted and Mr. Alesgerov reportedly insulted him.

On May 25, 2003, approximately 150 demonstrators, by official counts, gathered in Baku to peacefully protest the treatment of opposition members in Parliament. The demonstrators were met by members of the police forces carrying batons. The police reportedly beat the demonstrators and verbally abused them. Reports indicate that more than 50 protestors were wounded as a result of this violent action. The crowd included human rights defenders, journalists with cameras, and members of Parliament. The police assaulted journalists and MPs, despite the fact that their status gives them protection. The police then arrested and detained many of the demonstrators. Some of the demonstrators have been warned, others fined, and still others sentenced to jail terms (see the following table for detailed information about the injured, arrested and detained demonstrators). The Minister of the Interior had reportedly stated that the officers who used excessive force were going to be dismissed.

Click here to download the list of victims of the repression of the May 25th demonstration

The Centre for the Coordination of the Opposition also held a demonstration on June 3rd, 2003, in order to protest against a new electoral law, which was attacked and broken up by the authorities. The police, who were equipped with riot gear and were assisted by a number of plain-clothes policemen, reportedly blocked off all access to the “Milli Mejlis” governmental legislative building that was to be the target of the demonstration. The police then attempted to disperse the 150 to 200 demonstrators around Baku. The most violent encounter occurred in Muchfinga street, where around 100 demonstrators were blocked by the police and violence broke out, in which 2 members of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party (ADP) were reportedly severely injured, leading to their being hospitalised. At least 20 persons were arrested, including 11 ADP members (including Deputy President Gasan Kerimli), and members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front (including Secretary General Sardar Djalaloglu), and members of the Musavat party. Several journalists were also attacked during this incident, including Politika’s Parviz Peshimli, Radio Liberty’s Natik Zeylanov, and Khurriet’s Midjad Daglar and Tair Tagiev. The demonstration reportedly ended at 1 pm on June 3rd, 2003.

Separately, there is still no further information concerning ADP-member Chansi Gakhramanova, who disappeared while on her way from Agstafa to Baku by train, and who never reached her destination.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned by these attacks on peaceful demonstrators, in which disproportionate force has been used alongside arbitrary arrests, as well as the disappearance of Chansi Gakhramanova. OMCT calls for an immediate enquiry into these events and the immediate release of all of these detainees, in the absence of valid legal charges that are in line with international law. OMCT calls on the government to ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are brought to justice and that adequate reparation is provided to all persons that were injured during as a result of these events.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the detained persons, notably Chansi Gakhramanova who has disappeared;

ii. order the detainees immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges, or, if such charges exist, and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;

iii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iv. guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to all persons that were injured as a result of these events;

v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· H.E. Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan, Fax: +994 12 92 06 25, +994 12 92 28 68, E-mail: office@apparat.gov.az, president@gov.az, root@lider.baku.az

· Prosecutor's Office, 7 Nigar Rafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: +994 12 92 06 82, +994 12 92 26 63, E-mail: prosec@azeri.com

· Minister of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic, Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov, Fax: + 994 12 92 45 90

· S.E. l'Ambassadeur, Rue de Lausanne 67, CH-1202, Genève, Suisse, e-mail : az.mission.unog@iprolink.ch, fax: + 4122 901 18 44

Please also write to the embassies of Azerbaijan in your respective country.

Geneva, June 5th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Click here to download the list of victims of the repression of the May 25th demonstration

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