Baku / 23.11.19 / Turan: The Committee against Repression and Torture made statements in connection with the latest events in Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani authorities have long turned torture into one of its main tools in ‘investigation’. The Nardaran case, the Ganja case, and the numerous cases of torture in Tartar which took place in the recent years are known to the Azerbaijani public. The public is similarly aware of the numerous cases of tortures committed against people in a number of prisons, police departments and offices, especially the Organized Crime Department of the Interior Ministry ("bandotdel"). This is why a few months ago, many well-known human rights defenders and members of the public united behind a new organization called the Committee Against Torture and elected as its coordinator a human rights activist and member of the National Council’s Coordination Center, Ogtay Gulaliyev. Unfortunately, Mr. Gulaliyev became incapacitated as a result of a suspicious car accident on the 29th of October this year, posing a serious threat to his life, where he has not been able to wake up from coma for quite a long time now. Under these circumstances, we, as Mr. Gulaliyev’s colleagues, considered it crucial to continue this work, which began with his exclusive leadership. Particularly because the authorities started using torture more widely during a rally initiated by the National Council on the 19th of October of this year. It was during the 19th of October rally that prominent opposition figures - the chairman of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli, members of the National Council’s Coordination Center Tofig Yagublu and Ibrahim Ibrahimli - were tortured on a scale unprecedented even in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of protesters were similarly faced with police violence. All of this make the fight against torture even more relevant in Azerbaijan. If prior to the 19th of October rally torture was reserved for those members of the public who were not well-known, after that day, by subjecting the country’s world-renowned political figures to torture a clear indication was made that torture has become a state policy of the Ilham Aliyev regime.
The incidents of torture during the 19th of October rally - PFPA chairman Ali Karimli’s beating in the special police bus, the tortures of members of the National Council’s Coordination Center- Tofig Yagublu (at the Nasimi District Police Office) and Ibrahim Ibrahimli (while detained), as well as other activists, including the beating of Tofig Yagublu, who was threatened with torture and with killing his son during his 30 day administrative arrest in a temporary detention facility - strongly shows that the Azerbaijani community must mobilize to stop torture. We, as members of the Committee against Torture, call on the Azerbaijani society, and above all, the well-known public and political figures of the country, human rights defenders and supporters of democratic change: help our voice be heard and show us the support we need to shape the public opinion against torture in the country. As members of the civil society we need to be at the forefront of promoting public opinion and resistance against torture in the country. Each of us should do our best to draw the world's attention to the policy of torture in Azerbaijan.
We would like to appeal to the political forces of the country: the coordination of activities among political forces is essential in the current context. We urge all of you to participate in helping form a united attitude towards torture, regardless of any differences in opinion that you may have elsewhere. Solidarity against torture in the Azerbaijani society should become a key national task today.
We would also like to appeal to international organizations: please do not remain silent as the Azerbaijani authorities turn torture into a political tool. Please do not remain silent in the face of President Ilham Aliyev using torture against his political opponents, turning torture into a state policy in a country that is a member of the Council of Europe and has a strategic partnership agreement lined up with the European Union. Urge the Azerbaijani authorities to fulfill their international obligations, including their commitment to oblige with the articles regarding torture and ill-treatment.
We would finally like to appeal to the Azerbaijani people: please do not remain silent as the country’s administrative torture apparatus attempts to silence fellow citizens. All citizens should express their criticism of the policy of torture. We must condemn those who gave the orders and carried out tortures through a united and unequivocal public opinion. The government must be faced with the fury and condemnation of the citizens everywhere. The relatives and family members should feel ashamed for the actions of those who ordered and carried out the tortures. Only the general and harsh criticism of Azerbaijani society can stop this inhumane process.