Doctors in Azerbaijan are no less dangerous than the policemen who inflict severe injuries torturing detainees

Doctors in Azerbaijan are no less dangerous than the policemen who inflict severe injuries torturing detainees

The conclusion of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

On October 29, 2019, at 17:20, a ” Hyundai Accent ” car hit a famous human rights defender Oktay Gulaliyev on a pedestrian zebra at the intersection of ” May 28″ and ” Pushkin ” streets in the center of Baku. It happened immediately after the press conference where Oktay Gulaliyev announced the plan of work of the Committee against Repression and Torture. The “Hyundai Accent”  taxi driver, Abdullayev, helped the victim and drove him to the Baku City Clinical Centre No. 1.

So, what did the doctors do? How did they help the victim? Actually, there was no any help provided, and on October 29,  at 21.40 Oktay was transferred to the City Hospital, but even there he had not been operated until noon of October 30. The surgery was performed from 13.00 to 15.00 on the 30th of October. That delay in medical treatment did in fact killed the remarkable human rights defender.

The struck of a well known human rights defender caused a stormy reaction in society and the authorities had to react.

On October 30, 2019, the Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan released information on the human rights defender’s health status  hit by a taxi driver:

“On October 30, after the operation, Oktay Gulaliyev’s family members requested to transfer the patient to the Republican Neurosurgery Hospital. Since Gulaliyev was operated by the doctors of the Republican Neurosurgery Hospital, his relatives wanted him to be under the supervision of those doctors. Therefore, on October 31, Oktay Gulaliyev was transferred from the City Hospital to the Republican Neurosurgery Hospital. The patient’s condition was evaluated as stable and serious.”

Gulaliyev’s wife, Firuza Gulaliyeva, said that her husband had been in a second-degree coma prior to the surgery and he has been in serious condition since then.

At the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a completely different statement regarding Oktay Gulaliyev’s condition.

“The patient’s condition while under medical supervision is considered to be moderate. The Nasimi police officers inspected the scene of accident and the vehicle. The driver Abdullaev was interrogated and tested for the presence of alcohol and drug in his blood. In fact,a criminal case under the Article 263.1 (violation of vehicle operation regulations, which resulted in negligent infliction of less serious injuries to victim’s health) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic was initiated in the Nasimi district Police department”, stated in the report of Interior Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As we can see, the reports of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs  concerning Gulaliyev’s state of health contradict each other. If the Ministry of Health states that the condition is “stable and serious”, whereas the Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that it “caused less serious injuries”.

However, two days later, it became known that the human rights defender was about to die.

On the 5th of November, it was announced that all expenses related to Guliyev’s treatment were covered by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation on the instructions of Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice President of Azerbaijan. The Vice President of Azerbaijan allocated finances, invited doctors from Turkey, and on November 6, Oktay Gulaliyev was taken to Istanbul on a special flight where, in “Avrasiya” hospital, he was treated by Turkish doctors with full financing of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Very thoughtful decision. The critical condition of the courageous human rights defender is well known to the authorities: even if he survives, he will not be able to function properly. The goal has been achieved; one more bright critic of the regime has been practically eliminated.

The actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are irrefutable evidence of deliberate collision. Law enforcement officials have not only provided absolutely inaccurate information about Oktay Gulaliyev’s health condition, but also refused to disclose information about the “Hyundai Accent” vehicle’s movement down the “28th of May” street to the intersection with “Pushkin” street prior  the hitting a pedestrian.  Actual statements of the Ministry of Internal Affairs protect the driver.

It is not difficult to predict what the “investigation” of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be like: the driver hit the human rights defender will be given a short term and released on parole by agreement. But the killers, medical doctors, will not be brought to justice at all. They have never been prosecuted for failing to provide medical assistance to the regime’s critics: either after the death of journalist Rasim Aliyev (who was brutally beaten in the street) on August 9, 2015 at the Baku City Clinical Centre No. 1, who was not provided with timely assistance, or after the death of writer and publicist Rafiq Taqi (he was stabbed several times in the street) on November 22, 2011, in the same clinical centre under similar circumstances.

Murders by doctors aren’t often used by the authorities. But  the instructions not to help or treat the opponents of the regime is well know to doctors in both public and private medical institutions. We learned of this explicit and secret instruction in December 2015. Indeed, in December 2015, one of the doctors clearly suggested to Arif Yunus that he should not waste his time and strength on going to all the clinics and hospitals in Baku, and that he would not be treated or welcomed anywhere. Arif sought help at the Central Hospital of Oil Workers, at the Tusi Clinic, at the Hospital No. 5, at the Cardiology Center… The authorities were confident that Arif would not survive when they let us out of the country. But German medicine was on the ball…

After assassination of a brilliant critic, Elmar Huseynov, on March 1, 2005, the authorities, who were unable to cover up this high-profile crime, adopted a new strategy and tactic to eliminate their critics, so they chose the indispensable tools such as doctors-killers.


Leyla Yunus

The Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

P.S. In 2019 Oktay Gulaliyev received threats from law enforcement officers several times.