Political prisoners and activists join ongoing hunger strike

A number of political prisoners and activists have joined the hunger strike of imprisoned blogger Mehman Huseynov, who has been refusing solid foods since 26 December in protest against new charges brought up against him just a few months before his scheduled release. Huseynov, a popular critic of the Aliyev government, has been imprisoned on fabricated charges since March 2017 and now faces up to seven more years behind bars.

Political prisoners Ilkin Rustamzade, Bayram Mammadov, Ahsan Nuruzade and Elchin Ismayilli released a statement saying they were joining Huseynov’s hunger strike, calling on other political prisoners to join their cause: “If we await our fate like sacrificial lambs, tomorrow they will 'find' drugs, weapons etc. under our pillow, or we will 'beat someone'.”

The statement further urges not to hope for reactions from the West: "We have seen how it will end. Once the dust settles, someone from the West will come and a deal will be made in exchange for the release several political prisoners [...] They will fill their suitcases with oil, euros and dollars, and go back and wink at the government, giving them the green light for new repressions."

Another political prisoner, Giyas Ibrahimov, plans to join the protest, his mother announced on her Facebook page.

Since 4 January, supporters of Huseynov’s hunger strike have also been gathering at the Musavat party headquarters since. Tofig Yagublu, Musavat's deputy chairperson and a former political prisoner, announced that he would go one step further, commencing a dry hunger strike by refusing even liquids.  

On 15 January, prominent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova joined the group of hunger strikers at the Musavat headquarters after publishing a list of demands on her Facebook page.

A rally in support of Mehman Huseynov is planned on 19 January, organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces and the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party.

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