Women’s Rights NGOs React to Torture of Female Activist

Women’s rights organizations are demanding Kamala Bananyarli’s release.

Member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), Kamala Bananyarli, arrested earlier this month has been reportedly tortured while in custody in the Police Precinct of Nasimi District.

After Kamala Bananyarli’s lawyer, Asabali Mustafayev released information about the torture to the press, the press officer of Internal Affairs, Orhan Mansurzada, denied the accusation. However, Kamala Bananyarli confirmed the statements of her lawyer in a letter.

In her letter Kamal Bananyarli stated that before being sentenced to 30 days of imprisonment, she was subject to torture: “On May 7 I showed the swelling on my head to the lady examining me as I was being placed into the Binaqadi jail. She told the employee working during that shift that there was a swelling between my head and my neck. I wrote this down in a document, the two people who brought me were afraid to sign, the person accepting me signed it himself. However, the document that was shown to me today is not the same document. The document has been changed, replaced with a forged one. After that Orhan Mansurzada said that, supposedly, by stating that people are getting beat up at the police precinct, attorney Asabali Mustafayev is attempting to influence public opinion.”

Chairman of the “Clean World” Social Organization, Mehriban Zeynalova considers the actions of the police to be illegal: “Most likely, after her release, Kamala Bananyarli will present the public with evidence of her torture.  After that, the police must be punished according to the law.” Ms. Zeynalova intends to meet with Kamala Bananyarli: “In any case, I am going to defend her.”

Novella Jafaroglu, Chairman of the Women’s Rights Defense Organization, stated that the police’s main allegation against Kamala Bananyarli is that she was swearing: “I told the chief of police that, fine, she cursed, sue her. But, what is with raising a hand at a woman? The policemen torturing Kamala Bananyarli have to be kicked out of the Ministry Internal Affairs, and the she must be freed. Because the international conventions demand that an officer torturing a citizen be fired and punished.”

According Ms. Jafaroglu, the case of Ms. Bananyarli proves that not only men, but women too are subjected to torture in police precincts: “We will keep this recklessness on the agenda and free Kamala.”

Chairman of Women’s Association for Rational Development, Shahla Ismayil, said that, as soon as she was informed of the incident, she proposed to hold women solidarity event: “Our demand is for the policemen torturing Kamala to be punished. I think that we need to prepare better and host a good rally.”

Ms. Ismayil expressed her regret for lack of solidarity among organizations defending women’s rights: “I find it difficult to give a reason for this myself. Our work should not be limited only to projects. The organizations defending women’s rights need to take certain steps, give reaction to violations of law. Such issues are approached in rather odd manner, and whoever shows initiative, their work is put aside and their identity is discussed instead. In general, there is no solidarity within the NGOs, there is an unhealthy competition taking place.”

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