Human Rights Concerns Mount as Crackdown Intensifies in Azerbaijan

Bakı/30.10.23/Turan:  In the past month, Azerbaijan has witnessed a surge in pressure on public activists and opposition figures, with an increasing number of administrative arrests drawing attention to a growing human rights crisis. The crackdown has been particularly pronounced in the capital, Baku, following the brief military operations in Karabakh on September 19-20.

A wave of arrests, both on criminal and administrative charges, has targeted public and political activists. Concerned relatives and human rights advocates argue that these individuals are being persecuted for their criticism and public engagement.

On October 24, a photograph of Mehman Gabibov, a member of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), circulated widely, revealing visible signs of injuries. The image sparked widespread discussion and raised further alarm about the treatment of detainees.

Rufat Safarov, a human rights activist and co-founder of the organization Line of Defense, shared his insights on the situation in a program titled "Difficult Question." According to Safarov, repression has become a distressing routine in Azerbaijan.

"Today, it is impossible to imagine Azerbaijan without repressive measures, persecution, violence, and intimidation aimed at suppressing freedom of speech and the right to freedom of thought. Regrettably, the situation has become even more severe," he acknowledged.

Safarov noted that the military successes achieved by Azerbaijan have boosted the authorities' popularity, leading to the abuse of power against dissenting voices and critics. The most concerning aspect of this persecution, he emphasized, is the reported use of torture and degrading actions.

Moreover, Safarov highlighted a recent trend of repression against religious believers. He mentioned that several individuals were arrested on charges of advocating for the establishment of the state of Karim. While the veracity of these claims remains unclear, Safarov personally knows one of the detainees named Suleiman. He revealed disturbing details about their treatment while in custody.

"These individuals were taken to the Department for Combating Organized Crime, stripped naked, and threatened with sexual assault in front of cameras. Approximately 7-8 months later, another detainee, Mail, was arrested on false drug-related charges. Suleiman was also detained recently on similar charges," Safarov disclosed.

Safarov emphasized the need for authorities to provide concrete evidence if they are genuinely combatting separatist or terrorist organizations. He insisted that accusations of anti-state activities and serious crimes should only result in imprisonment when supported by incontrovertible proof.

"We would welcome measures to protect the sovereignty and national security of the country. However, people are being accused of anti-state activities and grave offenses, yet they are being incarcerated on drug charges," the human rights activist concluded.

The mounting concerns over human rights violations in Azerbaijan underscore the urgency of addressing these issues and ensuring the protection of fundamental freedoms and due process in the country.--0--

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