Azerbaijan
10.02.03
Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan: further shootings and arrrests of demonstrators in Nardaran

Case AZE 060602.8
Follow-up of Case AZE 060602
Disproportionate use of force / Violation of personal integrity / Arbitrary detention / Fair Trial

Geneva, February 10th, 2003

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

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, a member of the OMCT network, of arbitrary arrests, beatings and shootings of demonstrators by the police in Nardaran, Azerbaijan.

According to the information received, on February 5th, 2003, at 4:15 in the morning, five busloads of police officers staged an operation in Nardaran in order to arrest persons responsible for organising or participating in demonstrations against the authorities. These events occur against a background of ongoing civil unrest in Nardaran since, on June 3rd, 2002, members of the police and the Ministry of Internal affairs (MIA) arbitrarily arrested and shot various demonstrators who had participated in a demonstration on the May 7th, killing one and wounding several others. The trials of 15 persons that were arrested at that time are currently under way and have led to further demonstrating in Nardaran (see previous appeals for more information concerning these situations). Many persons are engaged in an ongoing demonstration in Nardaran’s central square and even spend the night on site, sleeping in a large tent in a park.

The authorities were reportedly aiming to arrest Mr. Hamid Yakhshibeyov who was on a wanted list for not voluntarily turning himself in to be tried as part of the afore-mentioned trials. The police forces reportedly burst into a tent that houses up to 70 demonstrators, and 80 to 100 masked police officers began beating them with clubs, truncheons and the butts of their automatic guns and sprayed some of them in the face with an unknown substance.

Claiming that they had found weapons on some of the demonstrators, the police then reportedly opened fire on them, resulting in injuries to the following 17 people: Abbasov Ilqar Bibiqulu oglu, Ahmedov Djeyhun Rafiq oglu, Alakbarov Imran Tofiq oglu, Aliyev Selimali Asgar oglu, Aliyev Ziyad Muradali oglu, Alizade Mehrab Hasanaga oglu, Alizade Mursal, Alizade Seyfulla Isgandar oglu (one of defendants who has not turned himself in to be tried), Asgarov Kamal Alipasha oglu, Azimov Alimammed Gulmammed oglu, Djalalov Djalal Shirali oglu, Nuriyev Abdulkarim Alasgar oglu, Qasumov Azizaga Habib oglu, Quliyev Fikret Rafi oglu, Rahibzade Kazym Safiqulu oglu, Tagiyev Habil Malik oglu, Yakhshibeyov Hadjiali Hamid oglu (the son of arrested Hamid Yakhshibeyov).

Although the formal reason of the operation was to arrest Mr. Hamid Yakhshibeyov, the following eight people are also being held and are either being administratively detained having been charged with resisting the police or detained on criminal charges of possession of weapons (the police claimed to have seized 2 pistols and 7 hand grenades during the operation): Yakhshibeyov Hamid Ibrahim oglu, Rahibzade Aliabbas Safqulu oglu, Huseynov Aliakbar Hummat oglu, Hasanov Seyid Azer Hamza oglu, Alhasov Mikayil Hadjiali oglu, Hashimov Anar Farhad oglu, Talybzade Niyazi Ahmadaga oglu, Abbasov Ali Miryasif oglu.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the afore-mentioned detainees, given that there have been allegations of the use of ill-treatment and torture on persons that have been detained in the past in connection with the demonstrations in Nardaran, notably in the facilities of the Ministry of the Interior’s department working against organised crime, in which the afore-mentioned detainees are being held. There are fears that interrogations in which ill-treatment and potentially torture are being used, may be ongoing in these facilities, notably during the night. OMCT is particularly concerned for Mr. Hamid Yakhshibeyov's personal integrity, because of his reportedly poor health - he has already been released from prison in the past due to health problems. OMCT urges the authorities to ensure that the police immediately cease the harassment and use of disproportionate force against the demonstrators and people of Nardaran. Furthermore, OMCT calls on the authorities to ensure that all persons being tried in relation with these events receive a fair trial, as there are fears that these persons’ procedural rights are being violated and that the trial is being prejudiced by political motives.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, on May 7th, 2002, a mass demonstration in which an estimated one thousand residents participated, took place in the village of Nardaran, calling for an improvement of the social and economic situation, and for the dismissal of the current representative of the executive power in the village, Mr. Failet Mirzoyev. On May 15th, an investigation into these events began, since this action was considered as a criminal incident under the articles 221.2.2 (hooliganism), 233 (breaking of public order) and 315.1 (violence against the representatives of authorities). On June 3rd, 2002, members of the police and the Ministry of Internal affairs (MIA) arbitrarily arrested and shot various demonstrators who had participated in the May 7th demonstration, killing one and wounding several others.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan urging them to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all persons being detained in relation with the events in Nardaran;
ii. order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances these events, notably the allegations of arbitrary arrests, beatings and shooting of demonstrators, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iv. put an immediate end to the persecution and harassment of these demonstrators;
v. guarantee adequate reparation to all injured people;
vi. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses

· H.E. Heydar Aliev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku 370066, 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

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

Geneva, February 10th, 2003

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