Dr. Leyla Yunus’s speech on the meeting of Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament on 17 June 2021

June 17, 2021

Azerbaijan cannot be a partner of the European Union

Dr. Leyla Yunus

Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

In April 2021, the EU resumed negotiations with the Azerbaijan Republic in the framework of the Eastern Partnership regarding the human rights situation in this country. Violations of the human rights and democratic freedoms in Azerbaijan are ongoing, and in recent years the situation has become even more dramatic. We”ll illustrate it with the existence of political prisoners in the Republic. As of today, there are hundred eleven political prisoners within the country with a population of ten million people. All the information concerning these prisoners is available on the website of our Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), right here:

Political prisoners for 5 april 2021

The number of political prisoners in the country never falls below 100 people. Today they are divided into 7 groups:

This list consists of 7 groups and includes 111 people:

  • Group № 1 Journalists and Bloggers – 7 persons
  • Group № 2 Members of Opposition Parties and Movements – 6 persons
  • Group № 3 Arrested after the rally on July 14-15, 2020 – 3 persons
  • Group № 4 Peaceful Believers – 18 persons
  • Group № 5 Convicted in Tartar case – 25 persons
  • Group № 6 Convicted in Ganja case – 38 persons
  • Group № 7 Life Term Sentenced – 14 persons

The group #1 includes 7 journalists and bloggers convicted for criticizing the authorities or the President Ilham Aliyev. The IPD website displays a number of legal studies of the trials, which show that innocent people were sentenced on trumped-up charges with illegal and unreasonable sentences that deprived them of their liberty:

– Analysis of the trial against the journalist and human defender Elchin Mammad – https://www.ipd-az.org/elchin-mamed/

– Analysis of the trial against the journalist Polad Aslanov – https://www.ipd-az.org/polad-aslanv/

– Analysis of the trial against the journalist Afgan Sadigov, who immediately after receiving an unlawful sentence declared a hunger strike and fell into a coma:

Afghan Sadigov, a journalist, went on a hunger strike immediately after being illegally convicted and in 82 days he fell into coma…

– Analysis of the trial against the journalists and civic activists Elchin Hasanzade and Ibrahim Salamov: https://www.ipd-az.org/there-is-no-freedom-of-speech-in-azerbaijan/

The IPD had no opportunity to monitor and analyze all the trials that had been arranged by means of political persecution. Yet, the violation of the national Azerbaijani legislation and International Law throughout all the trials analyzed by the IPD lawyers clearly indicates there is no independent judicial system in the country and political repression prevails.

We analyzed the trial of Saleh Rustamov, Aqil Maharramov and other from the group Members of opposition parties and movements: https://www.ipd-az.org/baku-city-court-on-grave-crimes-passed-a-sentence-on-5-defendants-on-so-called-case-illegal-financing-of-azerbaijani-popular-front-party/

Also, trial of Pasha Umudov: https://www.ipd-az.org/pasha-umudov/

The repression against peaceful believers in Azerbaijan has been a constant problem. Currently, there are 18 individuals in the Peaceful Believers group. The beatings, torture, unjustified long terms of imprisonment (for 17-20 years) lead only to the forced radicalization of peaceful believers. Meanwhile, the courts simply ignored the appeals to the court regarding prisoners’ torture, as they rejected the appeal about torture of Abbas Huseynov in the Gobustan prison. A legal analysis of this trial here: https://www.ipd-az.org/the-court-rejected-the-complaint-of-abbas-huseynov-about-torture/

The worst crime of the Aliyev regime in recent years is Terter case.

In 2017, without a court decision, about 2.000 people were arrested, mainly military personnel in Terter region. Most of them were charged with treason. According to information, gathered by IPD, in May 2017 the investigators of Military Procurator’s Office in Terter region, in Azerbaijan, killed 11 citizens of Azerbaijan, under tortures:

  •  Mehman Huseynov was arrested on May 7, his body was buried on May 16, 2017.
  • Sahavat Bunyadov was arrested on May 7, his body was buried on May 17, 2017.
  • Saleh Gafarov was arrested on May 4, his body was buried on May 14, 2017.
  • Elchin Quliyev was arrested on May 11, his body was buried on May 18, 2017.
  • Tamkin Nizamioglu was arrested on May 12, his body was buried on May 21, 2017.
  • Dayandur Azizli was arrested on May 12, his body was buried on July 20, 2017.
  • Suleyman Kazymov was arrested on May 4, his body was buried on May 7, 2017.
  • Elkhan Agazade was arrested on May 1, his body was buried on May 10, 2017.
  • Elchin Mirzaliyev was arrested on May 7, his body was buried on May 25, 2017.
  • Ruslan Odjaqverdiyev was arrested in the morning on May 16, 2017. The body of beaten to death Ruslan Odjaqverdiyev was given out in the evening on May 16, 2017.
  • Adil Tehran oglu Sabirli was beaten to death on May 5, 2017

OMCT did Statement on Terter case “Azerbaijan: 11 deaths in custody and other serious human rights violations in the “Terter case”: https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/azerbaijan-11-deaths-in-custody-and-other-serious-human-rights-violations-in-the-terter-case

But this terrible crime the Azerbaijani authorities hide. Our IPD has information about 25 citizens sentenced to long terms of imprisonment (from 8 to 20 years). However, the number of convicts is more – 78 men. All trials took place in closed military courts.

Nevertheless, the lawyers of the IPD having received the documents from the two Terter trials, made their analyses. See:

The trial of 7 persons involved in the so-called “Terter case”

Another unjustified accusation of “homeland treason”

The legal examination of those two trials revealed the absolute innocence of people sentenced to jail terms from 9 to 18 years on trumped-up charges.

There are 38 people in the Convicted in Ganja case group who had been also convicted on fabricated charges, and their trials were also studied by our lawyers.

The most regrettable is the group of Life Term Sentenced, 14 people. These are people who have been imprisoned since 1994-1995, and they were considered political prisoners by the Council of Europe experts at the time of Azerbaijan’s entrance into the CoE. However, over a quarter of a century their number has been decreasing due solely to those who have died in prison.

Political repression, torture and murder caused with torture are the Azerbaijani reality. There are no independent judicial system in Azerbaijan. All judges follow instructions from the President’s office.

And if the judge does not follow the instructions from above, he immediately ceases to be a judge. As it happened with the judge of the Sabunchi District Court of Baku Samir Talybov, who on April 1, 2020 made a fair decision and released Aqil Humbatov, who criticized president on Facebook, from forced placement in a psychiatric hospital.

The next day, the judge Samir Talybov, who had released Aqil Humbatov from the psychiatric hospital, was called from the presidential office and asked to write a statement about his voluntary resignation, which he did. Within one day, the Judicial and Legal Counsel of Azerbaijan dismissed Samir Talybov from his post of judge… Here: https://www.ipd-az.org/agil-gumbatov/

Law enforcement officers fabricate accusations against critics of government officials, first of all, Ilham Aliyev, and personally torture and kill people.

Since 2014, lawyers who have the courage to defend the rights of political prisoners have been expelled from the Bar Association, just as Alaif Hasanov, Khalid Bagirov, Yalchin Imanov, Muzafar Bakhyshev, Aslan Ismayilov and Elchin Namazov were expelled.

The installation of the ugly wax figures of Armenian soldiers in the so-called Victory Park in the center of the capital, city of Baku, can in no way contribute to the establishment of peace and good trustful relations between the nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan. It would be logical to expect a change of attitude towards Armenia following the victory in the Second Karabakh War: a cessation of Armenophobia, harassment of our own citizens who have family ties with Armenians, using the word Armenian as an insulting curse, etc. But that didn’t happen.

The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament should hold a special meeting to discuss the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.

There are no independent press in Azerbaijan, and freedom of speech is brutally suppressed. In fact, there are no officially registered independent NGO in Azerbaijan; the civil society was crushed in 2014. And currently, Ilham Aliyev has turned to suppressing independent voices outside the country.

The one of the first attack was carried out on 29th of January 2020 against the political emigrant from Azerbaijan blogger Qabil Mammadov (resident in Germany Bergkamen) . He was attacked and severely beaten by unknown persons who used tear gas against him.  His young son was present at the scene and is in the state of the psychological shock as the result of the attack against his father.

On March 14, 2021 there was an attempt upon the life of political emigrant from Azerbaijan, blogger Muhammad Mirzali. The attempt took place in France in Nantes City. Several unidentified attackers brutally beat, stabbed him multiple times and fled.

On May 2, 2021, Bayram Mammadov, a well-respected critic of the Aliyev regime, died under unclear circumstances in Turkey.

Unfortunately, Europe pays no attention to the crimes committed by the Aliyev regime.

Nowadays, a country such as Azerbaijan is not a reliable and worthy partner for the EU.

Dr. Leyla Yunus

Director of Institute for Peace and Democracy

Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor

Winner of International Theodore Hacker Award

Laureate of Polish Sergio Vieira de Mello Award

Winner of Battle of Crete Award

Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament Finalist

E-mail: yunus.arif.leyla@gmail.com

Website: https://www.ipd-az.org

Skype: arif.yunusov1

Tel.: +31 611 43 59 90