The prisoner

The prisoner

The recent tragic death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny while in prison has sent shockwaves across the globe, prompting concerns about the treatment and safety of political prisoners in authoritarian regimes. In Azerbaijan, a country known for its tight grip on dissent, similar worries loom large as reports of suspicious deaths and inadequate medical care within its penitentiary system surface.

The case of Faina Kungurova, an activist of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan who died in custody in 2007 under dubious circumstances, stands as a poignant example. Despite international recognition as a political prisoner, Kungurova's demise was officially attributed to food and heart failure, sparking allegations of foul play from her relatives who maintain she was healthy and well-nourished prior to her death. Similar suspicions shroud the deaths of other opposition figures such as Novruzali Mammadov and Mehman Galandarov, whose passing in custody raises questions about the adequacy of medical attention and the circumstances surrounding their demise.

Galib Togrul, brother of imprisoned Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party chairman Gubad Ibadoglu, has voiced grave concerns about his sibling's deteriorating health conditions behind bars in an interview with Azadlig Radio. Despite suffering from high blood sugar and complications necessitating insulin treatment, Togrul alleges that his brother's medical needs are being neglected, with falsified reports sent to international bodies tasked with monitoring human rights violations.

In response to these allegations, Azerbaijani authorities have maintained that the conditions of detention in penitentiary institutions comply with legal standards and that necessary medical care is provided to inmates. However, the lack of transparency and accountability in addressing concerns raised by family members and human rights organizations casts doubt on the veracity of these assertions.

Elman Nasirov, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on Human Rights, In an interview with Turan, asserts that government agencies closely monitor prison conditions and swiftly address any reported issues. He contends that recent reforms have significantly improved the situation within penitentiary institutions, refuting comparisons with the case of Navalny and insisting that Azerbaijan upholds the rule of law.

Similarly, Fazil Mustafa, another member of the committee, dismisses concerns over the safety and well-being of political prisoners, stating that they are kept in adequate conditions and have access to necessary resources. In a comment for Turan, he emphasizes that instances similar to Navalny's death are rare in Azerbaijan and urges against drawing parallels between the two cases.

However, Rufat Safarov, co-founder of the human rights organization "Defense Line," warns against complacency, citing the appeal of imprisoned activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev who expressed fear over the potential for similar tragedies to occur in authoritarian countries like Azerbaijan. In an interview with Azadlig Radio, Safarov highlights the systemic risks faced by political prisoners, pointing to the lack of access to quality medical services and the pervasive atmosphere of danger within penitentiary facilities.

Indeed, the parallels between Navalny's fate in Russia and the plight of political prisoners in Azerbaijan underscore the broader challenges posed by authoritarian governance. As Safarov aptly notes, the lives of individuals detained under politically motivated charges remain precarious, regardless of geographical location. In Azerbaijan, as in Russia, the urgent need for transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights within the penitentiary system cannot be overstated. Failure to address these fundamental concerns not only jeopardizes the lives of political prisoners but also undermines the legitimacy and credibility of the state.

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