Demonstration in support of Azerbaijani blogger on hunger strike in prison: fines and arrests
Four demonstrators have been sentenced to three weeks in prison on charges of organising unauthorised gatherings. The demonstrators recently protested the launch of a new criminal case against well-known Azerbaijani blogger Mehman Huseynov.
Among the arrestees are two journalists and two members of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA).
Another four participants were fined 300 to 400 manats (approximately 177 to 236 dollars).
Huseynov has gone on a hunger strike in protest against new charges of “attacking a prison guard” that are being levied against him.
Several dozen journalists and activists gathered on 3 January near the Neftchiler metro station on the outskirts of Baku, shouting “Freedom for Mehman!” and “Freedom for political prisoners!”.
Five minutes later the police stopped the rally and detained 15 people.
Seven women were released at the police station, and the rest were taken to the Nizami District Court. Three other women were released there, and five men were left in custody until a court decision was made.
On 4 January the court sentenced journalist Afgan Sadigov to 22 days in prison, while journalist Nurlan Qahramanov and PFPA members Elmkhan Agayev and Sakhavat Nabiyev were sentenced to 21 days in prison.
Mehman Huseynov is an Azerbaijani video blogger who has actively criticised the wealth and corruption of certain officials.
In early 2017 he was detained by the police. After his release, Huseynov complained that the head of the police station had tortured him. He was again arrested and received two years in prison on charges of defamation.
Local journalists, opposition activists and human rights advocates have spoken out in his defence, considering him a victim of political repression.
On 26 December 2018, with just a few months of his prison term remaining, Huseynov was accused of attacking a prison officer. A new criminal case has now been filed against him. In response, the blogger has gone on hunger strike.
The Caucasian Knot writes that on 30 December his condition worsened, and at the insistence of his brother, agreed to drink water.
The head of the public relations department of the Prison Service, Mehman Sadiqov, stated that Huseynov was not on a hunger strike and that he had no health problems.
Huseynov’s father tried to meet with him in the detention facility, but was refused access. His lawyers are also unaware of his current condition.
Mehman Huseynov has received outspoken support from Reporters Without Borders.