ReAl Has Issued a Statement on Arrest of Its Members

August 18th, 2016

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The Board of the ReAl Movement has issued a statement on the flyers which have led to the arrest of its members.

The statement reads:

“June 14 was the birthday of Ilgar Mammadov, ReAl Movement’s Chairman who has been illegally jailed for about four years for political reasons. On this occasion, ReAl Board planned to hold a campaign called “One million people” and to distribute more than one hundred thousand flyers to this end. We approached the Ganun Publishing House for the printing of the flyers, and after the price and other details were specified, we signed a contract and the flyers were printed. However, Baku City Main Police Department conducted a search at the Ganun Publishing House under the pretext of “bomb operation” and as a result the “real bomb” – Ilgar Mammadov’s flyers – were illegally confiscated. After the scheduling of the referendum in July, we decided to participate in this process as ReAl and to campaign against the amendments to the Constitution. To this end, we set up an initiative group named “Republican Alternative”, presented relevant documents to the Central Election Commission and passed the initial stage of the registration. As the next stage, we decided to print flyers, which along with information about Ilgar Mammadov would also represent our position on the referendum, in an attempt to get across our stance and our message on these amendments’ detrimental effect to the society. In view of the past experience with the Ganun Publishing House, we decided to print the flyers in a publisher we did not know. On August 12 (the day ReAl Executive Secretary Natig Jafarli was arrested), our activists reached a deal with a publisher located on Istiglaliyyat Street after negotiations and we put in an order for the flyers. On August 15, the publisher contacted us, saying that the materials were ready for pickup. Our activists were detained as a result of an “important operation” on their way to collect the flyers and were sentenced to seven days of arrest which was completely unjustifiable. On both cases, the decision to print flyers was made by ReAl Board; in the first case, it involved a little more than 100,000 flyers (worth 1,200 AZN), and in the second case also, 100,000 flyers (worth 2,000 AZN) were at stake. The money paid for the printing of the flyers had been raised and paid by ReAl Board. Due to the confiscation of the flyers related to Ilgar Mammadov’s birthday, ReAl’s Board members have sued the Baku City Main Police Department. However, as Nasimi District Court dismissed the suit, an appeal was filed with Baku Court of Appeal. In addition to the complaint filed over the court decision on the administrative arrest of our activists, we are in the process of appealing to local courts with regard to the confiscation of the flyers. If both lawsuits are turned down by local courts, we will apply to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Background: Togrul Ismayilov, head of opposition Republican Alternative (ReAl) Movement’s Sabail-Nasimi Assembly, and Elshan Gasimov, deputy head of ReAl’s Binagadi Assembly, have been sentenced to 7-day administrative arrest by Sabail District Court’s decision, ReAl’s Board member Rasul Jafarov has said. The youth activists are charged under Article 535 (wilful disobedience to lawful requirements of a police or military officer) of the Code of Administrative Offences.
The youth activists were apprehended by unknown men in Sabail district of Baku on August 15 and were taken to an unknown destination. Togrul Ismayilov and Elshan Gasimov were arrested on their way to pick up the newly published promotional materials (flyers) about ReAl’s jailed chairman Ilgar Mammadov. ReAl Board, the youth activists’ family members and lawyer Elchin Sadigov tried unsuccessfully to find out their whereabouts. They even called the 102 service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but to no avail.