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Urgent Interventions

Azerbaijan : repression against human rights defenders


AZE 002/1003/OBS 058
Arbitrary detentions
28 October 2003

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme off the FIDH and the OMCT, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA) of serious acts of repression targeting against human rights defenders in the aftermath of the 15 October presidential election. The announcement of the election of Ilham Aliev, the son of the former President, as the new President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as the numerous irregularities and acts of intimidation observed by international and local observers, gave rise to numerous movements of protests in the country. These movements have been very severely repressed by the authorities (massive arrests of political opponents, beating up of journalists,…) resulting in hundreds of victims.

In this context, human rights defenders, who have denounced these violations and taken position in favour of a democratic regime have also been victim of the repression.

On 16 October, the police beat up Mr. Azer Hasret, the chairman of the Journalists’ Trade Union of Azerbaijan, a national trade union, as he was monitoring a forbidden meeting protesting the result of the election in Baku.

On 17 October, Azer Mammedov and Ramil Djarchiyev, two human rights activists of the Qazakh Human Rights Resource Center – a project of the Association of Protection of Women's Rights - were arrested in Qazakh, and are still detained.

On 17 October, the Police came to the Cuma Mescid Mosque, Baku, in order to arrest Mr. Azer Ramizoglu, the chairman of the Center for the Protection of Conscience and Religious Freedoms (DEVAMM), as well as DEVAMM’s leading co-ordinator, Mr. Ilqar Ibrahimoglu. Fearing of being arrested, Mr. Ilqar Ibrahimoglu took refuge in the Norwegian Embassy from 17 to 19 October. These threats seemed to be directly linked with the participation of DEVAMM in the work of the democratic election coalition “Bizim Azerbaijan” (Our Azerbaijan), a coalition of around 30 political parties and NGOs in support of the candidacy of Isa Qambar, the chairman of opposition Musavat Party. DEVAMM is an NGO aiming at protecting religious freedom of all Azerbaijan citizens, irrespective of their religion, nationality, race or sex.

On 18 October, Mr. Ilqar Altay, the Head of the ad hoc Committee of Protection of Rights, established by a group of lawyers and politicians after the arrest of MP Iqbal Agazade, the leader of Umid (Hope) Party on 17 October, was arrested and sentenced to a 7-day administrative detention sentence. Mr. Altay, an independent forensic expert, also participates in fact –finding missions, such as the mission mandated by the Federation of Human Rights Organisations of Azerbaijan (FHROA) to inquire into the events that took place in Nardaran in 2002. His whereabouts are still unknown.

On 18 and 19 October, Mr. Mehdi Mehdiyevn the director of the Human Rights Resources Center in Baku - a project of 11 human rights NGOs aiming at providing local human rights activists with the necessary information and basic resources to start their work - was summoned to the Police, who called him and came to his house. On 20 October he received a night visit by policemen in plainclothes, who tried to break his door. He was threatened with arrest and torture in order to pressure him to make public statements on the TV about alleged “criminal actions’ of opposition leaders.

Finally, the house of Mrs. Nushaba Mammedova, the co-ordinator of the HRCA in Gandjabasar region and the founder of the only independent newspaper of the region “Gencebasar”, was visited on 21 October by a group of policemen. Just before, the Police had harassed her brother, a famous opponent, and had arrested her nephew. She was absent of her house at this moment.

At last, the Observatory is very concerned with regard to some public declarations made by pro-governmental members of Parliament since the beginning of the autumn session of Parliament, on 17 October. On 17 and 19 October, in several interviews with different pro-governmental TV channels, M. Huseynova and B. Muraodva made an appeal to sanction human rights defenders from Azerbaijan. The vice-chairperson of the Parliamentary Permanent Commission on human Rights, Mrs. Rabiyyat Aslanova even urged to exile them. On 22 October, in connection with the violent actions of October 15 and 16 in Baku, the spokesperson of the Ministry of the Interior, Sadiq Gozalov, during his press conference, stated that “some human rights defenders” slander the law-enforcement agencies.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Azerbaijani authorities and urge them to:

i. release immediately all human rights defenders arrested and detained since 17 October;
ii. put an end to any kind of harassment, violence, and difamation against them;
iii. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9th December 1998, in particular its article 1 which states that "every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level";
iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international instruments ratified by Azerbaijan.


· 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:,,

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

· 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 :, fax: +4122 901 18 44

Paris – Geneva, 28 October 2003

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

The Observatory, a joint FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the Emergency line
New coordinates :
Tel FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 OMCT : + 41 22 809 49 39
E-mail :
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