Leyla and Arif Yunus Spread Truths about Azerbaijan

January 20th, 2017

On 20 January, Arif Yunus, who has lived in exile with his wife human rights defender Leyla Yunus since April 2016, gave an interview about their situation in jail and after their release.

Recounting the torture inflicted on him in custody and being held secluded in the Ministry of National Security (MNS), Arif Yunus expressed a belief that he would be acquitted. Arif Yunus recalled how his health would frequently deteriorate during court hearings due to the torture he had been exposed to, and how the doctor would sit next to him inside the enclosed glass dock. According to Yunus, the medications given to him were sleep inducing, because of which he could not hear most of what was said during the trial. He was sleeping when the judgment was read out and heard it later from the doctor that he had been sentenced to 7 years.

He underlined that they had not left their homeland voluntarily, but were forced to go, and they were effectively deported from the country. Yunus said the torture had left him with a tumour on the back of his head.

The prominent conflict analyst also spoke about his meetings abroad. Reminding that Leyla Yunus was a member of the General Assembly of the World Organisation Against Torture, Arif Yunus said they had made a detailed presentation about the Nardaran case during an event held there. Arif Yunus added that they had also made speeches at the European Parliament and in Luxembourg, where they shared comprehensive information about the situation in Azerbaijan, arrests, political prisoners, and torture cases. Yunus also stressed that they presented a petition relating to jailed youth activists Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov to the delegation of Azerbaijani Parliament during their visit to Luxembourg on 19 January, and informed them of their list of 160 political prisoners. However, the Azerbaijani delegation refused to accept the petition.

Arif Yunus also noted that he began writing a book about their ordeal whilst in MNS custody. He stated that MNS and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were engaged in trafficking in women and he had witnessed many nasty things in MNS. Arif Yunus said lawlessness and inconsistency were prevailing in the country, and law enforcement agencies needed a systematic change.

Speaking of when they would return to the country, Arif Yunus said it did not depend on them. He said it was tough to live away from their homeland at the age of 60.