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AZERBAIJAN’S TOP PROSECUTOR EXPLOITS AZERI JOURNALIST’S PHOTO WITH SAAKASHVILI TO EXTRADITE HIM FROM UKRAINE

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Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan Zakir Garalov is concerned about the delay in extradition of the journalist of “Turan TV” channel Fikret Huseynli, who, due to persecution at home, received refugee status and Dutch citizenship, stated his letter to Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, a copy of which is available to the Ukrainian edition of the Center for Information on Human Rights.

“Delaying the decision on his extradition concerns us , because his so-called defenders resort to all measures to evade justice.” Besides, the rights of defrauded victims of his fraudulent actions both in Azerbaijan and abroad are violated,” wrote Garalov in a letter on January 12, 2018.

In addition, he assures that “reliable facts are established” that Fikret Huseynli flew to Ukraine to destabilize the situation of the country and takes part in rallies and other political events that contradict the national interests of Ukraine.

However, which kind of peaceful assembly he visits – the Prosecutor General does not specify. In the attachment to the letter, he adds a joint black-and-white photo of Fikret Huseynli and Saakashvili.

The Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan complains that officials of a number of embassies of Western countries interfere with the process of considering the extradition of journalists through the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, but which Garalov does not even mention.

In the attachment to the letter, the Prosecutor General also added material from the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” with reference to “the publication of haqqin.az, which cooperates with the Azerbaijani authorities to produce fakes.”

The Center for Information on Human Rights reported that on February 19, Pechersky District Court of Kiev for the second time postponed the trial on the case of Fikret Huseynli.

Fikret Huseynli worked in Azerbaijan for the opposition newspaper Azadlig. In March 2006 he was kidnapped and beaten by masked men in the village of Patamdar in Baku, as a result of which he received severe injuries, including knife wounds. On May 8, 2008, the journalist emigrated from Azerbaijan. He received refugee status in the Netherlands and is now a citizen of this country.

Fikret Huseynli spoke about the phone call in March 2017 from a man who called himself a representative of the presidential apparatus. The man promised free entry to Azerbaijan if the journalist removes his Facebook page, stops his work on Turan TV and visits the Azerbaijani Embassy in the Netherlands.

“Then you can safely visit your parents, and if you refuse, we will look for you through Interpol,” he said. On October 14, 2017 Ukrainian border guards detained Huseynli at the airport “Borispol” on the basis of Azerbaijan’s request. In Kiev, the journalist flew to open a branch of the satellite TV channel “Turan TV”.

The Azerbaijani authorities filed a lawsuit against the journalist, accusing him of illegally organizing the emigration of Azerbaijanis and obtaining refugee status abroad. The journalist rejects all charges of investigators and says that he has not been in Azerbaijan for 10 years.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands informed the lawyer of the journalist in The Hague about the removal of the red card in the Interpol database about the search for Huseynli because of the discrepancy between the request of Article 2 (1) and 3 of the Statute of Interpol.

The journalist previously addressed, in particular, to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “to help return to the Netherlands.”

“Unfortunately, I remain in Ukraine as a political hostage of Azerbaijan, a hostage to those forces that are managed from the Kremlin.” I have no right to leave Kiev, my passport was taken away, I turned into a man without rights. “I lost my job in the Netherlands, and I have to make debts to live in Kiev, I ask you to help me to return my passport and return safely to the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” Fikrat Huseynov wrote in his appeal.

 

Azerbaijan

Laza, the land of waterfalls – Photo Gallery

The Azeri Times

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Originally published by Caucasian Knot

The Azerbaijani village of Laza, about 200 km from the capital, Baku, is situated on a high-altitude plateau, Shah Yaylag. At the end of March when the snow starts to melt, tourists flock to Laza to see the waterfalls for which the area is famous. The locals, who are mostly ethnic Lezgins, earn a living by renting out cottages to tourists and offering visitors transportation in all-terrain vehicles in the winter.

Azeri Times presents this photo essay from Laza by Aziz Karimov, republished from Caucasian Knot.

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Azerbaijan

Opposition activist sentenced to 6 years in Azerbaijan

The Azeri Times

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On 18 September, the Baku Court for Serious Crimes sentenced a member of the youth committee of the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party (PFAP), Orkhan Bakhishli, to six years in prison.

Bakhishli was detained by men in plain clothes in downtown Baku on the evening of 7 May. On 10 May, the Yasamal District Court in Baku charged the youth activist with drug possession and ordered his detention for four months.

The PFAP has claimed that the charges against Bakhishli are trumped up and politically motivated. Several days before his arrest, on 3 May at a World Press Freedom Day event at the grave of journalist Elmar Huseynov, who was shot and killed in 2005, Bakhishli accused the Azerbaijani government of Huseynov’s murder.

Human rights activists consider Bakhishli a political prisoner. Previously, he served 30 days of administrative detention after being arrested ahead of a 31 March opposition rally.

In recent years, activists Ahsan Nuruzadeh, Murad Adilov, Bayram Mammadov, Giyas Ibrahimov, Elgiz Gahramanov, blogger Rashad Ramazanov and others have also been jailed on charges of drug possession.

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan a year after the LGBT raids: has anything changed in Europe’s most homophobic country?

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Azerbaijani society has never been tolerant toward sexual minorities, but no one expected the cruel and large-scale violence that occurred last year. At least a hundred people were humiliated, beaten and raped. People who were suspected of being gay were blackmailed and warned not to walk in the central streets of Baku. Meydan TV investigated the possible reasons for the police violence immediately after it happened last year and we now return to this topic to find out what has changed in Azerbaijan over the past year.

I felt like I had done something terrible

“I was absolutely desperate. I was leading a repulsive life: I drank a lot, I used drugs,” Ali recalls September 2017 (all names have been changed). He says that the “repulsive” life he led seemed to help him forget what he had experienced for a while: like many other gay Azeris, Ali was detained in a surprise raid in downtown Baku. He spent several days at a police station. It still is not easy for him to talk about what he experienced – in response to every questions he says that many people, for example, transgender people, had an even harder time than he did. “Not only did they call them the filthiest words and beat them, they also shaved their heads, which was the most humiliating thing for them,” Ali says.

Ali had never advertised his sexuality but it became obvious for people around him after police detained him. “I felt like I had done something terrible and that I was persecuted for it. My landlord kicked me out of the apartment I was renting, and my friends and loved ones turned away from me,” Ali recalls.

Ali gradually did manage to return to normal life – there were kind people who helped him while he was looking for a job. Unlike Ali, another gay man who was detained, Murad, had a certain amount of money which helped him flee the country. Murad left immediately after he was released from the police station and now lives in Turkey: “I wanted to move to Norway, but I was denied a visa.”

Murad has not been successful in finding a job and it seems he will have to go back home soon. “Of course I’m afraid, of course I don’t want to go back. I’d stay here if I could. At least there’s an LGBT community in Turkey, and they help each other,” Murad says.

 

Four brave lawyers

According to official statistics, police detained 83 people during the LGBT raids in Baku in September 2017.

“Thirty-three people filed lawsuits for illegal arrest and cruel treatment after they were released,” said Gulnara Mehdiyeva, a representative of the human rights organization Minority Azerbaijan and a member of the local LGBT alliance Nefes (Breath). Gulnara says that apart from physical and moral damages, those detained also incurred material damages:

“They were jailed for different terms, some for 10 or 15 days and some for 20 or 30 days. Many lost their jobs because their employers refused to take them back after their long absence,” Gulnara Mehdiyeva says.

Four lawyers agreed to defend the rights of the LGBT people affected. One of them, Samad Rahimli, says that judges rejected all the complaints. The same 33 people sent complaints to prosecution agencies, but prosecution agencies did not find any criminal wrongdoing.

Azerbaijani rights activist Kamala Aghazadeh believes that lawsuits will not produce results while the country has no law defending LGBT people from discrimination. “Society absolutely needs a law that would guarantee the protection of LGBT rights,” she said. Perhaps, the adoption of such a law would remove Azerbaijan from the list of the most homophobic European countries which Azerbaijan has led for four consecutive years now.

A month after the raids, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks sent a letter to Azerbaijan’s Interior Minister in which he called for “thorough investigations into serious allegations of human rights violations of LGBT persons recently arrested and detained in Baku”.
No reaction followed from the Azerbaijani government.

 

Four suicides and five murders

Samad Ismayilov, the director of Minority Azerbaijan magazine, said that four LGBT people committed suicide in Azerbaijan in 2017. Ismayilov said that specialized organizations recorded five murders which presumably were anti-LGBT hate crimes over the year. He said those were average annual figures.

“However, these are only cases that we have managed to learn about. In reality, there are many more crimes of this kind,” he said. According to Ismayilov, activists were not able to find out even an approximate number of members of the LGBT community in Azerbaijan because most people hid their sexual orientation.

Samad said no raids or large-scale assaults on gays had been recorded in Azerbaijan in 2018, but several trans people were at the police station the other day. “They were summoned to the police, asked several questions and released. However, we do not understand the reason for this interest, nor did we understand it last year,” Samad said.


Produced with the support of the Russian Language News Exchange

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