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Human Rights Club (HRC) strongly condemns the two year prison sentence issued on May 18 for Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, former parliamentary candidate in the November 2010 elections, and deems it an officially sanctioned ‘punishment’ for his political activities.
Hajiyev strongly criticized the authorities during the 2010 parliamentary elections, via social networking sites, particularly Facebook. As a result, he was on several occasions prevented from leaving the country for education purposes. Hajiyev was also one of the organizers of the youth protest arranged on Facebook (March 11th Great People’s Day Campaign), in the aftermath of which he was immediately jailed.
HRC states that Hajiyev has been deprived of his right to alternative service, enshrined in the Constitution of Azerbaijan. The fact there is no relevant legal structure for the realisation of this right, is not Hajiyev’s responsibility but the government’s, as the country undertook obligation before Council of Europe to ensure an alternative to military service.
HRC believes that the torture and inhumane treatment of Hajiyev, the non-implementation of his motions during the trial, and his being sentenced to maximum ‘punishment’ envisaged in the said Article, indicates that the sentence is politically motivated. With this decision, the investigative agencies and courts have demonstrated once again that they are dependent on the authorities and unable to make independent decisions.
HRC reiterates that this behaviour is an indicator of the authorities’ intolerance of dissidents and criticism. Thus, the government has once again defied its international obligations.
HRC calls upon the Azerbaijani government to release Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and other recently arrested youth activists, and to put an end to these arrests. HRC calls on the international community to ask the Azerbaijani govenrment to abide by its obligations for protection of human rights, and to speed up efforts for release of the said activists.
*Human Rights Club is a human rights organization founded on December 10, 2010 by several human rights defenders (including Idrak Abbasov, Emin Huseynov, Sabuhi Gafarov, Rasul Jafarov, Zohrab Ismayılov, Natiq Jafarli).