URGENT APPEAL OF SOUTH CAUCASUS NETWORK OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ON ASSAULT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN AZERBAIJAN

December 22nd, 2009
On December 15, human rights activists Ilgar Nasibov and Vafadar Eyvazov were severely beaten by a group of students and teachers of Nakhchivan State University.

The representatives of “Democracy and NGO Development Resource Center” were conducting a survey among teachers and students near the Nakhchivan State University about the facts of corruption as a part of the project “Fight against corruption – the application of anti-corruption mechanisms in the high schools of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic” funded by the Norwegian Embassy when the leadership of the University and about 50 sportsmen of the Sports faculty insulted the activists and demanded that they left the territory. The activists left. However, later the teachers and the students from the sports faculty beat them near a building where Ilgar Nasibov lives. Elman Abbasov, a correspondent of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety in Nakhchivan, who came to the site of the incident, was insulted and even threatened.

As a result of the assault, Ilgar Nasibov and Vafadar Eyvazov received heavy injuries on abdominal cavity, spine and ribs. According to Malahat Nasibova, the wife of Ilgar Nasibov and 2009 Rafto award-winning journalist of radio «Azadliq» (Azerbaijani service of RFE/RL), who is also a head of the “Democracy and NGO Development Resource Center”, Ilgar Nasibov and Vafadar Eyvazov were hospitalized. However, the doctors refused to render them medical aid. Malahat Nasibova assumes that the doctors were intimidated by local officials to refrain from providing medical help to the activists.

The same day, the victims of the assault submitted an appeal to Nakhchivan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs with a request to identify and punish the perpetrators. However, the authorities did not accept the appeal stating that working time has been over when they submitted the appeal. Later the victims sent the appeal by post to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Nakhchivan.

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls upon the Azerbaijani authorities

    * to investigate the incident comprehensively;
    * to provide medical assistance to assaulted human rights defenders;
    * .to punish those responsible for heavy bodily injuries;
    * to ensure protection of NGO representatives and journalists during implementation of their professional duties .

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls upon the international community

    * to pay particular attention to the facts of harassment of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;
   * to urge the authorities of Azerbaijan to promptly investigate the assault of Ilgar Nasibov and Vafadar Eyvazov.