Azerbaijan: Recently re-jailed prisoner of conscience says he’s being tortured
NIDA civic movement member Bayram Mammadov, who was recently sentenced to 30 days arrest after receiving amnesty, has complained of being tortured in the remand prison.
Mammadov was arrested on 30 March, just two weeks after he was released from prison under amnesty. He was accused of disobeying a police order, and was sentenced to administrative arrest several hours later.
His lawyer, Elchin Sadiqov, filed a complaint against the administrative arrest. However, it was rejected on 2 March. Mammadov said during the trial that the police had tortured him.
Who is Bayram Mammadov?
In 2016, activists Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov were sentenced to 10 years each on charges of drug trafficking.
Immediately prior to their arrest, they wrote anti-government slogans on the pedestal of a monument to Heydar Aliyev – the ex-president of Azerbaijan and the father of the current president.
Amnesty International recognized both of them as prisoners of conscience. They were released on 16 March 2019 under amnesty along with 397 others, about 50 of whom were political prisoners.
Arrest and torture
Mammadov says that after he was detained on 30 March, he was severely beaten in the detention centre.
He showed the judge bruises and also pointed out those who had beaten him, as they were also present in the courtroom. This was reported after the trial by another former political prisoner, famous blogger Mehman Huseynov. Huseynov shot a video in which Bayram was asked: “How are you?” to which he replied: “Bad.”
The judge dismissed the appeal, but accepted the torture complaint, writes the Caucasian Knot.
Sadiqov said that he was not allowed to visit his client in the detention centre, as Mammadov was supposedly undergoing a ‘disinfection’ process to enter the prison.
Journalists and opposition argue who is to blame for the arrest
Mammadov’s arrest provoked a fierce dispute between the press and the opposition.
On the eve of his arrest, Mammadov was interviewed by Turan, during which he spoke about the motives that caused him and Ibrahimov to “sign” the monument for which he would later be imprisoned.
Excerpt from the interview:
“Would you have done the same thing to the monument had you known how you would be punished for it?”
“If I had known that the torments I experienced would return many times over, I would still have no doubt or fear, and I would have gone there again, to the monument, even with my eyes closed. Just next time I would try to do more than I could in the past.”
It is this statement that many considered the true reason for his most recent arrest. They accused the journalist of provoking him with this question and, in fact, set him up without thinking about his safety.
This opinion is shared, for example, by the leader of the opposition Republican Alternative party, Ilgar Mammadov.
“A lot of journalists in Azerbaijan behave as if they live in a democratic or at least a relatively free country. They seem to think that they have the moral and professional right to ask any questions to people struggling with the regime. But in the present conditions it may cost the respondent their freedom.”
Ilgar Mammadov was targeted by some journalists who began to defend their anonymous colleague (the interview was not signed).
“If, in order to find the truth, it is necessary to overcome obstacles, it must be done. News and interviews aren’t meant to be respectful of politicians,” wrote journalist Sevinj Vaqifqizi on her Facebook page.
There were also some journalists who sided with Ilgar Mammadov:
“Bayram is not a politician, but a young activist. He did something that no one was capable of. What did our society do? They tore him to pieces,” wrote Aynur Heydarova.