Activist detained in Baku and forced to delete posts on social networks
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev detained in Baku
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev disappeared in the center of Baku around noon. He managed to start a live broadcast on Facebook, but the stream stopped almost immediately. Six hours later it became known that Hajiyev had been detained by the police. After his release, the activist held a press conference in which he said that he was forced by the police to delete his latest posts on Facebook. He also announced the intention to renounce Azerbaijani citizenship.
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On August 22, 2022, around noon, activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev began a live broadcast on Facebook, but the broadcast lasted only two seconds. Users managed to hear that Hajiyev was yelling at someone, “Let me go!” After that, the broadcast ended.
The video went viral immediately on Azeri social media, where users suggested that Hajiyev had either been kidnapped or detained.
Four months ago, in April 2022, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was abducted near his home in Baku. After managing get free, the activist said that a bag was put on his head and he was brought to an unknown location. The kidnappers urged Hajiyev to drop accusations against the Minister of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan. After being physically beaten, he was released.
For six hours nothing was known about Hajiyev’s whereabouts. There were also no official announcements. Toward evening, human rights activist Rufat Safarov announced Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s release.
Immediately thereafter Hajiyev held a press conference in his office.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on his detention
“Today I was walking to my office and I noticed that two men were watching me from a car parked on the side of the road. I walked on a little, and suddenly a man in civilian clothes ran in my direction and accosted me. I was afraid of being abducted again, as I didn’t know who it was, so I tried to get away, but he attacked me, and several people tried to force me into the car. Somehow I managed to start a live broadcast on Facebook, and the public learned of the incident,” Hajiyev said.
“I was brought to the “hooligan department” (Main Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan), and as soon as they took me out of the car they began beating me up. A little later, I found myself in the office of Abulfaz Rzayev, head of the department.
“Rzayev demanded that I delete posts on social networks. He said that we are a power structure, we are talking to you from a position of strength, demonstrating our strength, and if this happens again, I will arrest you.
“Then they brought me to the top floor, brought in Fuad Muradov [pro-government activist – JAMnews], he taught me a lesson in statehood, held a “preventative conversation”. I asked for a lawyer; they refused.
“They demanded that I remove posts about Vilayat Eyvazov [Minister of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan – JAMnews]. They also forced me to delete posts about Fuad Muradov.
“Four months ago, when I was kidnapped, they also forced me to delete posts about Muradov and Eyvazov.
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“When I deleted the posts, one of the operatives checked my page through some fake Facebook account. The profile photo for this account was of Ali Karimli [chairman of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan – JAMnews]. Probably, with this photo, he gained the trust of the “front-line soldiers”, made friends with them and followed their publications.
“After that, I was again brought to Rzayev, and he once again threatened me that if I write unflattering things about the police, the minister, we will show you our strength in a different form. I replied that neither he nor the government is eternal, and that I wish for a long life to see them get what is coming to them.
“After that, the agents from the car brought me to their office.
“In fact, the state behaves with a citizen like a hooligan. The day will come when they will answer for what they have done,” the activist said.
Renunciation of citizenship
At a press conference, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev said that he had decided to renounce citizenship of Azerbaijan, and when this happens, he will apply to the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for citizenship there.
The activist, surrounded by human rights activists and journalists, then went to the presidential administration of Azerbaijan with a statement of renunciation of citizenship.
Hajiyev’s detention has become the number one topic on Azeri-language social media. Here are just a few typical comments:
“In this country, even crime is a monopoly,” wrote lawyer Agil Laich.
“Why does the Ministry of the Interior, not respecting the laws of the country, take statements from a citizen without official notification, without a lawyer and by force?
“Do we live in a mafia state, or will we ever see law enforcement itself respect the law?” asks journalist Khadija Ismail.
“With regret I followed what was done to Bakhtiyar Hajiyev.
“Treating citizens this way does not comply with any law, and is equally indicative of the prevailing environment of impunity.
“Political institutions and socio-political activists do not have enough strength to stop this. Authoritative state structures are silent, or taking a biased position in the process, they prove their involvement in what is happening,” wrote the leader of the opposition Umid (Hope) party.”
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev detained in Baku