The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) called on the Azerbaijani authorities to disprison activist Saleh Rustamov, who has been on a long hunger strike.
“Saleh Rustamov, one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent political prisoners, has been on a hunger strike in prison for more than a week demanding from the authorities to release him. Family members and lawyers report that his health has severely deteriorated in recent days. Protesting against his politically motivated conviction, Rustamov stated he would continue the hunger strike until he died or released,” the NHC said in a statement posted on its facebook page.
It should be reminded that Rustamov was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment due to unfair politicized trial in 2019 on false charges of illegal business and drug crimes which the Azerbaijani government often resorts to justify arbitrary arrests of activists who criticize the government, the document added.
Note that the charges arise from allegations that Rustamov collected funds to help the families of political prisoners. “Following his arrest, the police held Rustamov incommunicado for 17 days and denied him access to a lawyer for a month. In court, he recounted how police brutally beat him during interrogations for several days and pressured him to confess. No investigations were carried out into the complaints of ill-treatment and detention,” Norwegian human rights activists said.
The NHC joins human rights groups and activists in calling on the Azerbaijani government to immediately and unconditionally release Rustamov.
“The government should not continue Rustamov’s unjust and unreasonable imprisonment and watch him slowly dying in prison,” the NHC statement concluded.
* PPFA supporter Saleh Rustamov was arrested in May 2018 and sentenced to 7 years 3 months of imprisonment in the so-called “illegal financing of the PPFA” case. Human rights activists recognized him as a political prisoner. Subsequently, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence by 2 months. Since November 6th he has been staging an open-ended hunger-strike demanding his release.