The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the brutal attack against Mr. Ilqar Nasibov, a human rights defender and journalist working for the Resource Centre for Development of Democracy and NGOs in Nakhchivan City, Azerbaijan. Mr. Nasibov has been involved in the support of rare cases of ECtHR related to the torture and ill-treament of local residents by the branch of Ministry of National Security.
According to the information received, on August 21, 2014 in the evening, Mr. Nasibov was called by a frequent visitor of the Resource Centre for Development of Democracy and NGOs. Later in the evening, his wife Ms. Malahat Nasibova, Head of the Resource Centre for Development of Democracy and NGOs, was informed that her husband had been found seriously wounded, and that the office had been destroyed. Mr. Nasibov was placed in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
According to Ms. Nasibova, her husband sustained a severe concussion, broken cheekbones, nose and ribs, bleeding wounds in the head and body, and lost sight in one eye. Doctors reportedly stamped more than a dozen stitches on his face and head, and feared that Mr. Nasibov could also suffer intracranial haemorrhage. When Mr. Nasibov regained consciousness, he reported that his assailant had rushed at him, with something like brass knuckles in his hand. He also told that a group of several people subsequently burst into the room, and began to choke him.
On August 24, 2014, Mr. Nasibov was transferred from the hospital to his home in a decision that his wife considered as premature given his serious medical condition. Moreover, on August 30, 2014, Mr. Nasibov went to Turkey accompanied by his wife in order to receive further medical treatment.
The police started a preliminary investigation, arrested a suspected assailant, searched the office and took some material evidence. They also heard the testimony of Ms. Nasibova. In addition, on August 25, 2014, a forensic examination was conducted, and the results should be known within a week.
However, as of issuing this urgent appeal, no decision on whether to open a criminal case has yet been adopted, despite the serious injuries sustained by the victim. Moreover, the Observatory is concerned that the police reportedly already published its version of events, based on the version given by Mr. Nasibov’s suspected assailant, alleging “an ordinary conflict between friends as a result of alcoholic intoxication”, and arguing that “both parties are injured”. According to recent reports, police would now even be accusing Mr. Nasibov of “provoking the other party”.
A few weeks before, on August 6, Ms. Malahat Nasibova and Mr. Ilgar Nasibov had reported that unknown individuals had tried to open and unlock the door of their apartment, damaging the mechanism .
This attack occurs in the context of a massive wave of repression targeting human rights defenders in Azerbaijan since July 2014.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the above-mentioned events, and fears that Mr. Nasibov was attacked as a result of his human rights activities. The Observatory calls for an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the beating of Mr. Ilqar Nasibov, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law.
The Resource Centre for Development of Democracy and NGOs, also often named as the Human Rights Resource Centre, is de facto the only human rights NGO in the Azerbaijani enclave known as the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Ms. Nasibova is the Rafto Prize 2009 laureate. Both Mr. Ilqar Nasibov and Ms. Malahat Nasibova work for the Azeri service of Radio Free Europe – Radio Liberty (RFE-RL - Azadliq radiosu). Over the past years, their human rights work was met with hate speeches by local authorities, physical attacks and even forged criminal charges.
In December 2007, after the authorities had arrested Mr. Ilqar Nasibov, the official propaganda had portrayed him as an Iranian spy. In the end, he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment on a totally different accusation of “slander against the chief of Nakhchivan city police”.
In January 2010, Ms. Malahat Nasibova as well as Mr. Hakimeldosu Mehdiyev, Mr. Elman Abbasov and Mr. Mehman Mehdiyev, employees of the Resource Centre for Development of Democracy and NGOs, were reportedly attacked and prevented by local authorities from shooting footage while investigating reports of police abuse in Heydarabad village. Mr. Hakimeldosu Mehdiyev reported he was beaten by the local police, forced into his car and expelled from the village .
Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ilqar Nasibov and Mrs. Malahat Nasibova as well as of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;
ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the beating of Mr. Ilqar Nasibov, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; Article 5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, and participate in non-governmental organizations; and Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Azerbaijan.
· Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 25, (+994) 412 92 28 68, E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Zakir Garalov, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prosecutor’s Office, 7 Nigar Rafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 82, (+994) 12 492 26 63, E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Eldar Mahmudov, Minister of National Security, Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Parliament Avenue 14, Baku AZ1006, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 493-76-22, E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Ramil Usubov, Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic, Fax: (+994) 12 492 45 90
· Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Fikrat F. Mammadov, Minister of Justice in Azerbaijan, Inshaatchilar Prospekti, 1 Baku, Azerbaijan, e-mail: email@example.com; Fax (+994) 12 430 09 81
· H.E. Mr. Murad N. Najafbayli, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the United Nations in Geneva, Route des Fayards 237, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland, Fax: (+41) 22 901 18 44, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of Azerbaijan in Brussels, Avenue Moliere 464, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 2 345 91 85
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Azerbaijan in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Azerbaijan.
Paris-Geneva, September 2, 2014
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.