Imprisoned chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, political prisoner Movsum Samadov has launched an open-ended hunger strike in protest at the referendum on constitutional amendments scheduled for September 26, his lawyer Yalchin Imanov has said. Chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan Movsum Samadov was sentenced to 12 years in jail by Baku Grave Crimes Court (presiding judge Eldar Ismayilov) on 7 October 2011. He was convicted under Articles 28, 214.2.1 (preparation for a terrorist attack by a group of persons acting in collusion, organised group or criminal association (organisation)) and 278 (violent seizure of power or violent retention of power) of the Criminal Code.
According to the lawyer, on August 30 he met with Samadov in Gobustan prison where he is held. “Movsum Samadov started the hunger strike on August 29. He has informed the prison management of his hunger strike’s demands in writing. Movsum Samadov stated that the Referendum act stipulated quite reactionary amendments to the Constitution, and once adopted those amendments would formalise the monarchical system in the country. Movsum Samadov said he was protesting against the amendments through hunger strike as he had no other options of protesting,” Imanov said.
“The authorities will conduct the referendum anyway. The important thing is that the society does not remain apathetic towards the political developments. I am concerned by the unquestioning attitude towards the referendum. Conducting referendum quietly and without protest would mean taking away the last ounce of dignity the Azerbaijani people have left. I call upon every Azerbaijani to protest against the amendments within the possibilities provided by the law. We want a fair state. Today Azerbaijani people need national unity. I turn my face to people and say: Are you not tired of living the same life? Let us live in unity. The first person to blame for the oppressor’s oppression is the oppressed,” Movsum Samadov said in a message relayed by his lawyer.
Background: The referendum on amendments to the Constitution in Azerbaijan will be held on September 26. The Draft Referendum Act stipulates establishment of the posts of first vice-president and vice-presidents of Azerbaijan. It also extends the term of office of the president from 5 years to 7 years. Minimum age requirements for the president and parliamentarians are removed. Besides, the president is granted the power to dissolve the parliament.