"Defense Line" press conference on 30 April 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Source: Meydan TV

Caption: "Defense Line" press conference on 30 April 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

"Defense Line": Human rights violations in Azerbaijan are on the rise

Article was updated on :  3 May 2021

"In order to silence socio-political activists, the private lives of their family members are also secretly filmed and spread"

In recent months, the rights of respect for family and private life, freedom, personal inviolability, property, fair trial, non-torture and discrimination have been increasingly violated in Azerbaijan. These were the conclusions of monitoring conducted by the "Defense Line" human rights organization in March and April.

The organization's executive director Rufat Safarov, and co-founders Zaur Akbar and Zafar Ahmadli held a press conference to announce the results.

Rufat Safarov said that the human rights situation in Azerbaijan was difficult in March and April, and a smear PR campaign was conducted against public and political activists.

"Violations are on the rise", he said. "Repression has intensified. Opposition figures and critical citizens are arrested in best case scenarios, and in worst case scenarios are prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms. In order to blackmail and silence public and political activists, the private lives of themselves and their family members have been secretly filmed and spread. This is a great blow to the interests of the state and society", said Rufat Safarov.

"Freedom of expression is already a crime in Azerbaijan" (In Azerbaijani)

The human rights activist said that Akif Niftaliyev, a resident of Shamakhi, was immediately detained by the police for his video criticizing traffic police, was pressured and sent to administrative detention for 10 days by a court decision. "Although it is reflected in our constitution and laws, in fact it is formal. Not only the opposition, but also ordinary citizens do not have the right to express a different opinion. Free speech and criticism are considered a crime and punished immediately. Instead of investigating negative developments, such as torture, the authorities simply refute such claims. ”

Speaking about the detention of soldiers in Tartar on charges of espionage and their horrific torture in 2017, where at least 11 people were killed, Rufat Safarov said that the issue was addressed at the UN level, but the Azerbaijani government does not want to conduct a real investigation. "The executors should not go unpunished. Several low-ranking servicemen were arrested, given light sentences, and released before the end of their sentences. Yesterday, the head of state awarded those same people who took part in the Karabakh War."

Zaur Akbar, co-founder of the "Defense Line", said that given the gravity of the human rights situation in the country, they plan to announce the results of the monitoring at the end of each month. The results will be sent to the Azerbaijani public, international organizations and embassies.

"On the eve of Ramadan, we will appeal to President Ilham Aliyev, the Pardon Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Human Rights to release political prisoners," said Zaur Akbar.

Zafar Ahmadli responded to the remarks about the presentation of a number of people as political prisoners, as well as the publicization of violations against some former MPs and officials: “As an organization, we do not prepare a list of political prisoners, we do not play a role in recognizing anyone as a political prisoner. Our goal is not to restore individuals, but to restore violated rights. We created this organization to register violated rights, to protect those rights, and to try to solve the problem. As for political prisoners, there are specific criteria set by the Council of Europe.

Rufat Safarov also commented on this issue, stating, "For example, we are criticized for condemning the events against Huseyn Abdullayev, who once served the regime. We still condemn the illegal actions of his time. But we cannot ignore the fact that he was mistreated. Even a reputable organization, such as the United Nations, has confirmed in a document that he was arrested for political motives and bias. Defending someone's violated rights does not mean justifying their past actions”.

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Article was updated on :  3 May 2021
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