Ilkin Rustamzadeh, a university student and member of the Azad Genclik [Free Youth] group, was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison in May 2014. He was originally charged with hooliganism and
disturbing public order
for his alleged involvement in a Harlem Shake video that was posted on YouTube. Rustamzade’s lawyer Khalid Baghirov has reported that shortly after the letter was published, Rustamzade’s prison cell was searched. Prison guards found a small bread knife and said this was illegal; as a result he was placed in solitary confinement for seven days.
Kurdakhani is the detention facility at which the majority of Azerbaijan’s political prisoners are currently held.
An address to the very respectable Working Group on Human Rights: what a wonderful group you are! Initially, I had no intention of writing to you. But once I had seen your random and arbitrary claims, I told myself I had to. This letter is to you.
With a few exceptions, the members of this group are part of an absurdist performance. Rather than a working group to monitor the protection of human rights at Kurdakhani detention facility, you are at best – with a few transfers – an amateur soccer team. Because you are intent on destroying the basic provisions of justice.
Let’s begin with the team captain, Fuad Alasgarov. Mr. Alasgarov means one thing for political prisoners: the butcher. With the exception of the “Facebook prisoners”, who are handled by the specialist “mob department”, Mr. Alasgarov is in charge of arresting political prisoners, their hearings, adjusting the conditions of their prison stays, and their sentencing. Putting this man in charge of the Working Group makes a mockery of the Council of Europe.
But let us continue. There are many state officials in this group. I have forgotten their names (in all honesty, their names are of little interest to me). Those who have been appointed to this group can simply be described as the “attackers of human rights”. These individuals are the fans who assail the basic standards of justice on the field, the territory of the Azerbaijani Republic. I must confess – the offense of your team is pretty strong.
The midfielders aren’t bad either. Here you have experienced chameleons – excuse me, I meant to say “legal midfielders”. Depending on the situation, on the game, the direction of the winds (West or North), they assist either the offense or defence. Because the majority of them have a particular preference for offensive action, there are issues with the team’s defence. There are only two nominal defence players on the team. Okay, in order not to upset some members of the Musavat party, let’s add Novella Cafaroglu to this list. Nonethetless, the defence is clearly the team’s most vulnerable area.
This is why your the public authority is shaky at best. This is why you need to make some transfers to strengthen your team. I’ve had a look at some of the available players, and I believe the following players would fit in with your team culture:
- Ibrahim Lemberanski and Elchin Guliyev. This uncle/nephew duo is highly professional when it comes to hunting down political prisoners. The uncle, head of the Anti-Terrorism Department at the Ministry of Defence, watches, reports, takes orders, arrests and then hands over to the nephew. Beautiful. Then, the nephew begins to construct the conspiracy theory. I think these two would be very well suited to a team headed by Fuad Alasgarov.
- Our second duo is a pair of brothers, Azer and Mirgafar Seyidov. These two also work very well together. The elder brother arrests, beats, and tortures detainees, before dispatching them to his younger brother at Kurdakhani. Here in Kurdakhani, Mirgafar tries to extract an apology or a false confession using intimidation and pressure. Surely, you could say Mr. Mirgafar was recently transferred to head the Baku’s Police Department. Even better, promotion would only motivate him to work better in the Working Group.
- Another valuable double act is the Usubov brothers, Ramil and Rustam. One of the brothers presents the political prisoners, the other cracks down on protest actions. The Working Group, I know, would find these two very useful.
- The team also needs a goalkeeper. I think you should take Siyavus Novruzov. He would refuse to accept that any goals had been scored, even if fifty cameras shot the game and he missed ten goals. He would say the judge is Armenian and so are the fans, the director and even the spectators behind their TV screens.
In conclusion, since I am familiar with the ways in which you work, I cannot tell you to resist “haggling”. You will do it anyway. I wish you success. What I am trying to say here – if in the end you lose, at least don’t raise the hopes of the spectators (the families and loved ones of political prisoners). That’s all. Take care.
See you next time.
Prisoner of Conscience Ilkin Rustemzade.
Joint Working Group on Human Rights
is comprised of:
Seven state officials, including Fuad Alasgarov, a top presidential aide, and Chingiz Asgarov, Azerbaijan’s representative at the European Court of Human Rights;
Two pro-governmental MPs;
One Constitutional Court judge;
Three members of the President’s Council on State Support for non-governmental organizations;
Seven NGO representatives.