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Azerbaijan
27.02.03
Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan: release of several Nardaran detainees

Case AZE 060602.9
Follow-up of Case AZE 060602
Releases / Fair Trial / Arbitrary detention

Geneva, February 27th, 2003

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

New Information

The International Secretariat of the OMCT has received new information from the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, a member of the OMCT network, regarding the status of the demonstrators that were arrested on February 5th, 2003 in Nardaran, Azerbaijan.

According to the information received, the district court of Sabunchu ruled that the following four detained demonstrators were released from detention but still are to stand trial: Yakhshibeyov Hamid Ibrahim oglu, Huseynov Aliakbar Hummat oglu, Hasanov Seyid Azer Hamza oglu, and Talybzade Niyazi Ahmadaga oglu. The trial’s next hearing is scheduled to take place on February 28th, 2003. Despite their release, there remain concerns that they may not receive fair trials and might receive prison sentences as a result of this, in violation of their rights.

In a further development, Alimammed Azimov, who sustained injuries on February 5th, 2003, has been hospitalized on the order of the Minister of Public Health. In addition, it has also been reported that the remaining four residents of Nardaran that were arrested on February 5th, 2003 have been released from custody. These men are: Rahibzade Alibbas Safqulu oglu, Alhsov Mikayi Hadjiali oglu, Hashimov Anar Farhd oglu and Abbasoc Ali Miryasif oglu. According to information received, 15 people remain still remain in detention in relation with the events in Nardaran that began with a demonstration on May 7th, 2002.

The International Secretariat of OMCT welcomes the release of the afore-mentioned men. OMCT calls on the government of Azerbaijan to ensure that these men are given a fair and impartial trial, in line with the internationally recognized standards of fair trial. OMCT, however, remains concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of those people who are still being detained. In addition, 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 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 organizing 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 have led to further demonstrating in Nardaran (see previous appeals for more information concerning these situations). Many persons have engaged in demonstrations 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.Yakhshibeyov Hamid Ibrahim oglu who was on a wanted list for not voluntarily turning himself in to be tried as part of the afore-mentioned trials. Claiming that they had found weapons on some of the demonstrators, the police then reportedly opened fire on them, resulting in injuries to 17 people, including the afore-mentioned Alimmamed Azimov and Rahibzade Kazym Safiqulu oglu.

Although the formal reason of the operation was to arrest Mr. Hamid Yakhshibeyov, eight people were also arrested and were 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). All eight of these persons have now been released, but 15 persons who were arrested prior to them still remain in detention.

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 and order their immediate release;
ii. guarantee the procedural rights of the afore-mentioned defendants 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 27th, 2003

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