Elcin Sadiqov, the lawyer of two youth activists arrested in Baku on alleged drug possession charges – Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov – wrote on his personal Facebook page that Mammadov has been subjected to torture in police custody.
The two activists
disappeared on the night of May 10th
after drawing political graffiti on a statue of Heydar Aliyev in the center of Baku, the former president of Azerbaijan and the father of the current president Ilham Aliyev. Flower Day, celebrated annually on May 10th, also marks the birthday of Heydar Aliyev: the father of the current president, Ilham Aliyev.
The graffiti read “Happy Slave Day” instead of “Happy Flower Day” – a play on the similarity of the words “flower” (gül) and “slave” (qul) in Azerbaijani.
In the same status update, Sadiqov wrote that he had finally been admitted to see his clients after being repeatedly refused entry to the pre-trial detention center. In his post, Sadiqov noted signs of torture on their bodies – particularly visible on Mammadov.
Amnesty International has also
to the ill-treatment experienced by the youths.
The lawyer’s statement on Facebook continues: “Qiyas Ibrahimov told me that he drew the graffiti and Bayram Mammadov took photographs and later shared them on Facebook. They told me that it was a protest against the celebration of May 10th (Flower Day) and a call to end soldier deaths and injustice in the country.”
This year, May 10th also falls on the 40th day of mourning after the four-day conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh that left almost 100 Azerbaijani soldiers dead.
The lawyer also published a photo of a letter written by Bayram Mammadov, in which he describes the torture to which he has been subjected while in police custody.
Meydan TV presents his testament below:
“On May 10th, 2016, in between 14:00-15:00 o’clock, 3 men in civilian clothes forced me into a white jeep and took me to Sabuncu Police Department and Temporary Detention Center. They brought me to the office of the chief officer, where there were 7-8 officers in civilian clothes. They immediately began punching, slapping and kicking me and asking me why I had taken pictures of the graffiti, who was my associate and so on. However, I was not able to answer their questions as I lost my hearing and shortly thereafter lost consciousness. They then took me to Baku City Police Department in a car whose make and model I cannot remember, as I was unconscious.
There, I was beaten again as they tried to force me to accept the drug charges. I told them that I had
never seen narcotics in my life
and they could not arrest me simply for having taken a photo. As a result, they beat me harder and demanded that I accept the charges. They swore at me and insulted me. They took my pants off and threatened to ‘immorally’ use a bat on me – that is, to rape me. I had no choice but to accept the charges. ‘confessed’ and signed the testimony that was provided for me.
Then, they brought me to the general’s office and told me that
if you put flowers in front of the statute
[of Heydar Aliyev], talk to AzTV and apologize to the statue with your head bowed, you will be released”.
I refused their offer, and they started beating me again. Around 00:30, they brought me to Narimanov District Police Department and Temporary Detention Center. On May 11th, in the early morning, the chief officer ordered me to clean the yard and pick up cigarette butts. I refused. He started beating me, but I refused to give in. He then ordered his men to take up the bat again and threatened to have them rape me with it and take pictures – I was forced to agree to his demands. They gave me a broom and a dustpan and took pictures of me cleaning up the yard.
These beatings have since become a regular occurrence.
After returning from the court hearing on May 12th, they took me to the office of the chief officer of the Temporary Detention Center. There were 2 people in civilian clothing in addition to the chief officer, and they ordered me to give names of other people who had cooperated with me. They demanded that I put flowers in front of the statue, talk to AzTV and ask for forgiveness from the statue itself. They told me if I did so, they would release me before it was too late. I refused. They phoned someone and told him: “take care of him for a while.” They took me into the basement, where I was handcuffed as they continued to beat me with punches, kicks and bats.
They even shackled my feet, and taped my mouth so that no one would hear me scream.
They saw that the handcuffs and shackles had left signs of abuse, so they took them off and taped my hands and legs to my back. They put me on the ground and whipped my feet. Then they lifted me into the air, and threw me onto the ground several times. After 4 or 5 throws, the tape was torn off and they started to trample my hands with their feet while my own feet were still being whipped. Then they struck me in the chest and knees with a bat. I was losing consciousness, and so they put me down.
They were tired, too, it seemed.
While resting, they put a piece of paper on my face and told me that if it were to fall off, they would continue beating me. The paper fell.
After a while, they demanded that I clean the toilet. When I refused, they hit me again. This time, they were filming me with a camera.
I lost consciousness after that. They woke me up by pouring water on me. They took me barefoot to my cell. Right now I have many bruises on my arms, legs and knees because of the torture. I have open bruises are on my hands and wrist. I still have head trauma. I have open wounds on my legs, too. My urine is mostly bloody, my jaw hurts when I chew. I plead with you to help me bring the people who tortured me to justice. I wrote this letter myself.