IHRC is gravely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Azerbaijan one year after bloody riots erupted in the country’s second largest city, Genje.
The unrest was triggered by graphic images posted on social media showing horrific injuries sustained by Yunis Safarov, a Russian national who was tortured after being arrested for the attempted murder of the city’s governor and his bodyguard.
Protestors’ grievances included the failure to see benefits of Azerbaijan’s petroleum wealth trickle down to its citizens and the regime adopting an iron-fist approach against political opponents. On 10 July 2018 hundreds of demonstrators gathered in one of the city’s main squares only for the regime to send in security forces. In the fighting that followed two policemen were killed.
In response the government embarked on a massive crackdown on the country’s opposition, killing several well-known activists. Reports of violence and violations are alarming.
The case of Serhani Agha Huseyn, who was a member of the Muslim Unity Movement is a case in point. His body has not been returned to his relatives a whole year after he was shot and killed by intelligence ministry personnel.
Following the July 2018 events, the government of Azerbaijan arrested over 70 people, employing brutal methods of torture towards detainees to extract confessions.
Since then the authorities have provided only superficial updates regarding the whereabouts of Yunis Safarov and other Azerbaijani citizens it has arrested.
In May 2019, local human rights activist Oqtay Gulaliyev, who had been exposing the forced confessions of those detained over the events of July 2018, was summoned to the General Attorney’s office and warned about ‘tainting’ the image of the Aliyev regime’s security apparatus.
IHRC has been monitoring of the post-Genje arrests and murders by Azerbaijan’s security forces. We are concerned that the regime has used the individual act of Yunis Safarov as a pretext to murder and detain Muslim activists. The government has specifically used the Genje events to crack down on a popular Islamic organization called the Muslim Unity Movement which has been engaged in peaceful political struggle against the Aliyev regime.
The fact that Yunis Safarov has been detained incommunicado for over one year and has not been brought forward for court proceedings is a worrying factor and a clear sign that the Aliyev regime fears transparency in relation to the events in Genje in July 2018.
IHRC is calling on all international organizations to apply pressure on the Aliyev regime to come clean about all those it has detained over the Genje events in July 2018 and immediately start investigating the torture complaints of all detainees.
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