Police tell Azerbaijani activist he cannot be protected from ‘president's admirers’
Photo: Voice of America
About 30 people, most of whom were journalists, gathered in front of the main city police department of Baku earlier today where activist Qiyas Ibrahimov was taken to have a “preventive conversation” with the police.
Those who gathered wondered if Ibrahimov would be detained like his associate Bayram Mammadov, who was recently sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Who is Qiyas Ibrahimov?
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 had left anti-government graffiti on the pedestal of a monument to Heydar Aliyev, the ex-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 16 March 2019, Ibrahimov and Mammadov were released as part of a pardon of 399 people, among whom there were about 50 political prisoners.
On 30 March Mammadov was again detained and sentenced to 30 days of administrative arrest on accusations of disobeying a police order.
What happened to Ibrahimov?
On 3 April, Qiyas Ibrahimov was called several times to appear at the main police department of Baku.
Ibrahimov refused, and requested that a formal summons and reason be supplied.
Later, two policemen went to his home and tried to bring him in, but he again refused. The police left and returned a couple of hours later, this time with a summons, but without an explanation.
Ibrahimov then went to the main police department, accompanied by journalists.
Thanks to a live broadcast on social media in which he spoke about what was happening, the case immediately received a lot of publicity.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported to the Azerbaijani service of the BBC that they wanted to talk to Ibrahimov and will let him go home afterwards. The ministry said that the summons was a standard procedure, as many of those pardoned by the recent amnesty decree were apparently being called in for such a conversation.
Ibrahimov came out after half an hour and said that the reason for the summons was a recent Facebook post he made in defence of Bayram Mammadov. The police claim the post contained insults which were aimed at the president.
Ibrahimov insisted that it was all speculation, that there was no mention of the president in his status update, and that the last name Aliyev, which he used in the post, is one of the most common in Azerbaijan.
He was eventually released, and was warned by the police that they could not help him if the president’s numerous fans decided to “reason with him on the street”.