Prosecutor’s Office launches criminal case under ‘incitement to suicide’ article" />

Opposition activist dies in Baku prison under questionable circumstances and buried in secret

Prosecutor’s Office launches criminal case under ‘incitement to suicide’ article

“Mehman Qalandarov, 40, an opposition activist and blogger, who was found dead in his cell in the Kurdakhani pre-trial detention facility, was buried in secret from the public, early on 30 April,” Ogtay Gulaliyev, a human rights activist, reported on his Facebook page. Gulaliyev was the first who beat the alarm upon learning about Qalandarov’s death.

“Mehman Qalandarov’s life was put to an end at Kurdakhan pre-trial detention facility, and he was secretly buried near that very facility. But let not those, who caused his death and secretly buried him, think that they will be able to sweep it under the carpet. Let no one doubt that we will do our best to expose and punish them,” Gulaliyev’s Facebook post reads.

The human rights activist managed to find Qalandarov’s grave days after his burial.

Qalandarov was arrested for drug trafficking on 7 February.

Gulaliyev reminded the public that Qalandarov organized several rallies under the slogan: ‘We don’ want the king!’; ‘Let’s be like Qiyas!’. He was referring to Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov, activists of the ‘NIDA!’ (Outcry) opposition youth-wing movement, who were arrested for writing protest slogans on Heydar Aliyev’s monument. They are now serving sentences for drug possession.

At first, Penitentiary Service officials denied social media reports that Qalandarov had allegedly committed suicide. However, 2 days later, the Sabunchi district prosecutor’s office instituted criminal proceedings under Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan (incitement to suicide).

‘Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), believes that the responsibility for the blogger’s death rests solely on Azerbaijani authorities’ – Turan news agency reported.

The arrests for criticizing the government on Facebook have become more systematic. Intellectual deviants and bloggers are mostly accused of ‘possession of and trafficking in drugs’. That’s exactly what they did to Mehman Qalandarov,” the IPD statement reads.

As a person, who spent more than 16 months in cells in Kurdakhani-based pre-trial detention facility #1, I testify that it’s impossible to hang oneself in those cells without someone’s assistance,” Turan quoted Leyla Yunus, IPD Director, as saying.

“Qalandarov’s relatives refused to communicate with journalists and called on mass media representatives to leave them alone, saying the blogger ‘doesn’t deserve to be commemorated’ ” – a publication reads. Local activists didn’t exclude that the relatives could be subjected to certain pressure.

The blogger didn’t have his own personal family. Therefore, his body was transferred to his sister’s family.

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