Former Azerbaijani political prisoner plans to pay state debt with small change
Former prisoner of conscience Qiyas Ibrahimov has started a campaign to collect small coins on Facebook.
He needs the amount to pay the state 73 manat [about $43], which he ‘borrowed’ three years ago for a forensic examination when he was accused of drug trafficking. In repaying the debt in this way – that is, with a bunch of coins – Qiyas wants to express his attitude towards the state.
Who is Qiyas Ibrahimov, and what debt does he have to repay?
In 2016, activists Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were sentenced to 10 years each on charges of drug trafficking.
According to the official version of events, more than a kilogram of heroin was found in their homes.
Immediately prior to their arrest, Qiyas and Bayram wrote an anti-government slogan on the pedestal of a monument to Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan and the father of the current president.
Amnesty International recognized them as prisoners of conscience. In Azerbaijan, they are called “prisoners of the monument.”
On March 16, 2019, Qiyas and Bayram were released as part of a pardon for 399 people, among whom there were about 50 political prisoners.
On April 23, Qiyas received a court order, according to which he is obliged to reimburse the state for the costs of the examination of the very heroin for which he was sent to prison three years ago. Otherwise, Qiyas faces charges of not repaying a state debt.
Qiyas Ibrahimov decided to turn this situation into an “instrument of ideological propaganda.”
He wrote a post on his Facebook page inviting all those who wish to give him five qepik (about three US cents) to do so.
“Let’s deliver at least a bit of trouble to the state, which is not worth a penny,” Qiyas writes in his post.
He stresses that he needs exactly five qepik coins, because one of the goals of the action is to attract as many people as possible to it. The activist has calculated that 1,460 people will have to contribute to collect the required amount.
More than 100 people have already agreed to join in.
In 2017, a similar action was conducted by video blogger Mehman Huseynov. He was accused of resisting the police and fined 200 manat. Mehman paid this fine with small coins collected through social media.