The international human rights organization Amnesty International found an Azerbaijani court’s decision – to imprison Qiyas Ibrahimov for ten years – to be an infringement on the freedom to express one’s opinion. The head of the National Centre of Strategic Thought, Isa Qambar, compared the activist’s sentence to the sentencing of dissidents in Soviet times.
We remind readers that Qiyas Ibrahimov and a N!DA Movement activist, Bayram Mammadov, were detained in Baku on May 10, 2016, accused of an illegal narcotics transaction. On October 25, a Baku court pronounced Qiyas Ibrahimov guilty of serious crimes.
A N!DA representative stated that Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bairam Mammadov were detained after graffiti turned up on the base of a monument to Heydar Aliyev in Baku; the graffiti read “Qul bayramınız mübarək!” (Happy slaves’ day!) and “F…k the system!” Ibrahimov and Mammadov didn’t admit guilt, declaring that they provided testimony when being tortured. Amnesty International previously recognized them as prisoners of conscience.
A document from Amnesty International stated that imprisoning a 22 year-old activist for ten years as punishment for graffiti on a monument is a shocking insult to freedom of expression; the organization is disturbed by “how far the Azerbaijani government is going in order to force its critics to be quiet”.
The words of Amnesty International’s director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev, are included in the statement, “Qiyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute caricature of justice. He was arrested simply because of the fact that he wrote slogans on a monument. He was subsequently tortured in order to get him to admit to committing serious crimes. Now the government wants him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on the basis of these fabricated accusations”.
“We call for this sentence, based on fabricated charges, to be annulled, and for Giyas Ibrahimov to be released without delay, and also call for an independent investigation into torture and other forms of cruel treatment to which he was subjected”, says Amnesty International.
The statement noted, “The police demanded on several occasions that the activists publicly apologize for insulting Heydar Aliyev and subjected them to cruel beatings when they refused. Their lawyer says that they were covered in bruises after questioning and that they were also threatened with rape. Additionally, they were forced to clean the toilets in the police station and this form of degradation was recorded”.
The document says that human rights defenders, political activists, independent journalists and other dissidents in Azerbaijan are under threat of blackmail, torture and physical violence.
“We call on our international partners to exert pressure on the government of Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations to international law, and also to ensure that the government respects the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”, stated Denis Krivosheev.
“He wrote a call to freedom on a symbol of the regime”
Isa Qambar, head of the National Centre of Strategic Thought, believes that Giyas Ibrahimov was convicted for political reasons. “Qiyas wrote a call to freedom on a symbol of the regime and was accused of a crime that he did not commit, and received ten years in prison”, Qambar told a correspondent from
He compared Ibrahamov’s and Mammadov’s actions to “the acts of dissidents”, who, in 1957, raised the tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan People’s Government (1918-1920) on the Maiden Tower in Baku. “The deceitful, hypocritical Soviet regime sentenced them to ten years in prison for “theft”. And what we now have before us is, by nature, a Bolshevik regime”, said Qambar.
Cultural expert Rahman Badalov also pronounced judgement regarding Ibrahimov’s sentencing. “I don’t make excuses for Qiyas’s actions. But I marvel at his audacity”, Badalov told a correspondent from
In turn, the deputy chair of the parliamentary committee for human rights, Yevda Abramov, said that it was not for nothing that Ibrahimov was convicted. “I don’t have information about this process, I don’t sit in every court and don’t keep tabs on how the decision is made. But if he (Ibrahimov) was arrested, then he committed a crime. If the judge dictated ten years’ imprisonment, it means that there were weighty arguments. The judge graduated with a law degree, not a degree in botany”, said Ibrahimov.