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After a 2-minute deliberation, the court announced the decision. According to the decision, the judgment of the lower court was upheld.

Lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev said he would submit a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights after obtaining a copy of the Supreme Court decision.

Background: APFP activist Zeynalabdin Bagirzade was convicted under Article 315-2 (use of violence against a civil servant) of the Criminal Code, and was sentenced to 8 years in jail under Babak District Court’s judgment of 2 February 2016. The Supreme Court of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (AR) upheld the lower court’s decision.

Bagirzade was detained on 16 November 2015. After employees of the Social Protection Fund had come to his house and used indecent words against his wife, Bagirzade went to SSPF and expressed his objection to those people because of this, and filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Instead, a criminal case was launched against Bagirzade, and he was arrested.

Zeynalabdin Bagirzade had also been arrested before. He was accused of obtaining a fake disability certificate related to Chernobyl accident, i.e. excess of power and document forgery, and handed a 7.5-year suspended sentence under Nakhchivan AR Grave Crimes Court’s judgment of 2 March 2012. The remainder of his suspended sentence has been added to his current sentence, resulting in a cumulative 8-year prison sentence for Bagirzade.

The relentlessly brutal political repression has reached a point of no return after at least eight prominent activists have been thrown behind bars in the weeks leading up to the controversial appointment of the First Lady of Azerbaijan to the newly created position of First Vice President, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) said today.

The organisation condemns the Azerbaijani regime for aggressively restricting the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, cracking down on dissidents and anyone considered a threat to the ruling regime.

This crackdown has preceded the illegal consolidation of power in the hands of the ruling regime on 21 February when President Aliyev announced that his wife, Mehriban, would become the First Vice President of Azerbaijan.

The ruling family, the Aliyevs, have held onto power in Azerbaijan for the past two decades through a combination of fraudulent elections, silencing dissenters and tightening the laws. » » » »

On 22 February, Baku Court of Appeal chaired by Judge Hasan Ahmadov considered the appeal filed against Nasimi District Court’s decision of 18 February 2017 ordering the pre-trial detention of journalist Elchin Ismayilli. According to lawyer Elchin Sadigov, the motion was not granted, and Nasimi District Court’s decision was upheld.

Sadigov quoted Elchin Ismayilli as saying that he was arrested for his critical articles about the head of Ismayilli region executive power.

Ismayilli-based freelance journalist Elchin Ismayilli was detained on 17 February. On 18 February, Nasimi District Court ordered him held for 24 days.

A criminal case has been initiated against the journalist under Articles 182 (extortion) and 308 (abuse of office) of the Criminal Code.

Background: According to the lawyer, Elchin Ismayilli is accused of extorting money from an employee of Ismayilli Region Culture and Tourism Department. The person in question appealed to the State Security Service, and the journalist was arrested when taking the money. “The journalist has said that his detention is staged and is related to his professional activity,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer further noted that Elchin Ismayilli had known that employee of the Culture and Tourism Department for 14 years. Some time ago, he asked him for a loan of AZN 1,000 as an old acquaintance. Elchin was arrested two days ago while receiving the money. The journalist is held in Baku Detention Centre #1.

Elchin Ismayilli has collaborated with different media outlets, including the Radio Liberty and the now-closed Azadliq newspaper. He has authored articles on negative developments in Ismayilli region and problems faced by the residents. He was one of the first persons to cover the protests held in Ismayilli on 23-24 January 2013. In the wake of those events, his brother was arrested as a protest participant.

Elchin Ismayilli himself has been detained by the police on various occasions and faced physical pressure. In all those cases, he associated it with his journalistic activities.

Elchin Ismayilli is a member of the Supreme Assembly of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party.

The broadcast of Turkey’s FOX TV on Azerbaijan’s cable TV providers was stopped in the evening hours on 22 February. The channel has become inaccessible in all formats, including analogue, digital and IPTV broadcasting. https://www.irfs.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=18184&action=trash&_wpnonce=d0efa1b4ca

One of the providers, Aile TV, ascribed this move to an instruction by the National Television and Radio Council (NTRC), which has remained silent on the issue.

A day ago, on 21 February, host of FOX TV’s Ana Haber (Main News) program Fatih Portakal presented the news on the appointment of President Ilham Aliyev’s wife Mehriban Aliyeva to the post of first vice-president in a critical tone. Referring to the constitutional changes in the system of presidency adopted through the 2016 referendum in Azerbaijan, the newscaster called the new appointment a “system [where power] passes within a family”.

“If your democracy is this much, you’ll have such a system. There can be no talk of protesting masses. How much this move is democratic and respectful of human rights and freedoms is debatable,” the presenter commented with an ironic smile.

FOX TV’s this footage evoked heated debates amongst social networkers in Azerbaijan and criticisms of the appointment. The predictions about the suspension of the channel’s broadcast proved right because another Turkish channel Kanal D’s transmission had also been stopped in Azerbaijan two years before following a critical video.

FOX TV and Kanal D are very popular among Azerbaijani viewers.

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS)

September 2016

Analysis of the Draft Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan

SUMMARY

Azerbaijan’s slide toward a family-run order is gathering momentum: on 26 September, voters will decide on constitutional changes that would hand additional powers to long-standing President Ilham Aliyev.
On 18 July 2016, President Aliyev signed a decree submitting the draft Referendum Act “On Amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan Republic” to the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court approved the Referendum Act on 25 July 2016, following which President Aliyev set the referendum for 26 September 2016. Each amendment will be listed on the ballot paper, and voters will approve or reject each one separately.

IRFS believes that the proposed amendments are aimed at enhancing and prolonging the ruling family’s dominance in the public, political, and economic spheres. Furthermore, IRFS considers these amendments to be a clear violation of human rights standards. Specifically, these proposals run counter to Azerbaijan’s obligations before the Council of Europe.

The amendments would extend the presidential term from five to seven years. They would also create the powerful new position of First Vice President, along with several other vice-presidencies. In the event that the president is incapable of discharging his duties, authority devolves to the First Vice President (rather than to the Prime Minister, as under the current Constitution). » » » »

Journalist Sues APA Holding

February 21st, 2017

Farahim Ilgaroglu, an exiled journalist, currently living in Germany, has sued his former employer APA Holding media organisation once again, the journalist himself reported on 21 February.

Ilgaroglu put the blame for the court dispute’s failure so far on lawyer Khalid Aghaliyev and noted that he had signed contracts with two new lawyers. “They have put the judicial and legal systems of our country into such a terrible condition that it will be difficult for me to sue Emergency Minister Kamaladdin Heydarov’s holding and demand my rights,” the journalist said, noting that two court hearings have already been held on the case.

“The case is being heard by Khatai District Court. According to what my lawyers have told me, the opposite party has claimed in court that I had been warned about my dismissal one month earlier. This is ridiculous. The signature and handwriting on that application are not mine. The application has been forged on the instruction of Vusala Mahirgizi, head of APA Holding. Three days before my dismissal, I received instructions from Vusala Mahirgizi regarding PR work. Also, on the same date, I was on duty for APA TV, which is part of the Holding, and I took part in filming. Of course, we will present all these facts to the court,” the journalist said.

Ilgaroglu added that Mahirgizi was trying to ‘shrink the scope’ of the matter, but won’t succeed. “Seems like, Mahirgizi had forgotten her phone conversation with me when she told me that she fired me because the Presidential Administration said to, so she won’t be able to protect me, that she feared the leader of an opposition party, and that my posts relating to opposition put her at risk. The conversation was recorded because I was behind the wheel when talking to Ms Mahirgizi,” Ilgaroglu said.

Background: Journalist Farahim Ilgaroglu was sacked after sharing his views and posting photos on Facebook about the protest rally held by the National Council on 11 September 2016. Authoritative international organisations such as European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), IDEX, ARTICLE 19, Reporters without Borders, International Press Institute (IPI), Association of European Journalists (AEJ), and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a joint statement and criticised the Azerbaijani authorities for the politically-motivated dismissal of Farahim Ilgaroglu.

Two More APFP Activists Arrested

February 20th, 2017

On 20 February, Masalli Regional Court sentenced activists of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’s (APFP) Masalli regional branch Elvin Bahramov and Farasat Ahmadov to 30 days of administrative imprisonment on charges of disobedience to lawful requirements of the police, APFP Deputy Chairperson Gozal Bayramli has said.

Both activists have reportedly been arrested for their critical Facebook posts.

Recall that, APFP’s Shaki branch chairman Islam Hasanov was sentenced to 25 days in jail on 7 February, Shaki branch youth committee chairman Samir Hasanov to 20 days in jail on 8 February, and APFP activist Amil Mammadzade to 30 days in jail on 20 February.

Netherlands-based prominent exiled blogger and political activist Ordukhan Teymurkhan’s sisters have been taken to the 32nd police station of Surakhani District Police Department, the blogger himself reported on 18 February.

According to Teymurkhan, he received a call from the phone number +994502113626, saying his sisters were in the hands of the police. An officer, who did not introduce himself, told the blogger ‘if you were a man, we would not have brought your sisters here’.

The political activist says his sisters have been intimidated. “They told my sisters that they would hurt them unless I quieted down,” the blogger noted.

The police have also threatened the famous blogger himself by saying ‘we will bring you here, too’.

Teymurkhan said he would inform international organisations of the incident.

Recall that, the blogger’s family members and other relatives have recently declared disowning him on the media.

Two relatives of blogger Ordukhan Teymurkhan, whose family members are persecuted for his political speeches, have been sentenced to 30-day administrative imprisonment on charges of resisting the police, human rights defender Ogtay Gulaliyev reports.

Having met with the blogger’s family members, the human rights activist says Ordukhan Teymurkhan’s relatives living in Baku were taken to Surakhani District Police Department en masse immediately after the blogger’s critical speech during the 18 February rally held in Cologne, Germany, under the slogan ‘Free Political Prisoners’.

Even 2-year-old fever-stricken Seljan was also taken to the police office and was kept there on the pretext of a ‘conversation with the chief’. Twelve relatives of the blogger were held in police custody overnight. They were not given a place to sleep, water or bread. Ordukhan’s relatives were demanded to get the blogger to stop his critical speeches.

The blogger’s relatives except for his elder brother Khanlar Dadashov and nephew Sabuhi Zeynalov were released on 19 February. Dadashov and Zeynalov were sentenced to 30-day administrative arrest on charges of resisting the police.

Khanlar Dadashov is 64 years old and suffers from diabetes. He works for First Aid Service. Sabuhi Zeynalov was not at home at the time of the incident. He went to the police office after being told that his mother had been taken there, and was accused of resisting the police. He had his wedding day scheduled for 12 March.

Background: Blogger Ordukhan Teymurkhan lives in Netherlands in exile. He makes critical speeches against the government of Azerbaijan. Recently, his close relatives publicly disowned him. But even after this, the pressures of the family have not stopped.

The health of writer and poet Saday Shakarli has worsened again. As reported by the writer’s family on 16 February, he has been moved from Prison #6 to the Treatment Facility of the Ministry of Justice and is currently under medical supervision.

Saday Shakarli suffers from diabetes. He previously received treatment in the Treatment Facility of the Ministry of Justice during the period of investigation, when his health declined while being held in Baku Detention Facility #1.
Background: Saday Shakarli was arrested in December 2015, being charged under Article 182.3.2 (extortion of a significant amount of property) of the Criminal Code on accusations of threatening to publish revelatory articles and disreputable information about a Tax Ministry official on mass media to (or “intending to”) obtain a large amount of property. On 16 May 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Baku Court of Appeal later reduced the writer’s sentence to 5 years. The Supreme Court did not grant an appeal filed against the decision.
Saday Shakarli is a member of Azerbaijan Writers’ Union. » » » »