A group of public figures called for the release of Saleh Rustamov and an end to the problem of political prisoners

November 22nd, 2021

A group of public figures published a position document calling for the release of the Karabakh war veteran Saleh Rustamov, solve the problem of political prisoners and carry out judicial reform to put an end to unfair court sentences.

The document says:

We, representatives of the civil society, are concerned about the state of health of the former head of the Gadabay region, a veteran of the Karabakh war, Saleh Rustamov, who is on hunger strike. He was detained on May 8, 2018 by the verdict of the Baku Serious Crimes Court for 7 years, 3 months, 15 days. According to his lawyers and relatives, Saleh Rustamov’s hunger strike has already led to dire consequences for his health and poses a real danger to his life.

From the moment Azerbaijan gained independence until today, the country’s parliament has adopted 11 acts of amnesty, and the head of state has signed 67 decrees on pardon. In total, this led to the release of about one hundred thousand convicts or the mitigation of their punishment. Although such acts eliminate the consequences of unfair judgments against many convicted persons, unfortunately, this does not mean the victory of justice in general.

Analysis of the majority of cases in which acts of pardon and amnesty are applied shows that the existing judicial and legal system is a serious problem, many of these cases are the “product” of these problems. Also, a consequence of the problems of this system is that arrests of a political nature are still taking place in our country, and the problem of “prisoners of conscience” continues to remain. Such problems negatively affect not only the internal socio-political situation, but also play the role of a source of tension for our country in the international arena.

The decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on complaints from Azerbaijan also clearly indicate problems in the judicial system. These decisions confirm that arrests for political views are widespread in our country, decisions of local courts are made with serious flaws. The persecution of people for their political views, dubious court decisions made – this negative picture, which has formed in the international arena, indirectly affects the main problems of Azerbaijan, including the political and diplomatic situation around the Karabakh issue.

Against the background of all of the above, those of us who wish the prosperity of our country, work for this, support all efforts and steps on this path, are seriously concerned about the fate of people convicted of numerous unfair court decisions, the threat to the health and life of Saleh Rustamov, as well as new persecution of citizens. We believe that the earliest release of all political and prisoners of conscience, in particular Saleh Rustamov, elimination of the reasons giving rise to the problem of a “political prisoner”, creation of a favorable legal environment for civil society structures, ensuring freedom of expression, and the beginning of reforms in the judicial and legal sphere, would be one of the main steps in the name of a prosperous, progressive future of our country.

Signature:

1.Nasimi Mammadli – a political commentator

2.Khalid Agaliev – lawyer, expert on media law

3.Akif Gurbanli – lawyer, expert on electoral law

4.Azer Mehdiyev – economic expert

5.Rovshan Agayev – economic expert

6.Mehman Aliyev – journalist, director of Turan news agency

7.Alesker Ahmedoglu – lawyer, expert on media law

8 Kamran Mahmudov  – an investigative journalist

9.Seymur Kazimov – journalist

10 Ruslan Izzetli – politician

11.1 Bahtiyar Hajiyev – public figure

12.Bashir Suleymanli – Head of the Institute of Civil Rights

13 Aslan Ismailov – a lawyer

14.Khagani Jafarli – political Scientist