Political prisoners in Azerbaijan
In Azerbaijan, an activist arrested on charges of drug trafficking complains about the conditions of detention in a detention center. According to him, he is held together with 21 other arrestees in a cell for ten people.
Aikhan Israfilov, a jailed functionary of the Trade Union Confederation “Workers’ Table”, is dissatisfied with the conditions of detention. This was reported by his sister Sevindzh Israfilov. The activist is held in pre-trial detention center № 3.
Aikhan Israfilova’s sister said that the last time she and her brother met on September 16:
“I saw him behind the glass. He said he was dissatisfied with the conditions of detention, there are 21 arrestees in a cell for 10 people. The conditions are very bad. He has no opportunity even to read, the cell is too cramped. We appealed to the administration of the detention center and the Ministry of Justice,” she said.
Sevinj Israfilova also added that Ayhan’s arrest is illegal: “He doesn’t even drink energy and doesn’t smoke. It is absurd to blame him for using and dealing drugs. In our country, a fictitious accusation in connection with drugs is already considered a norm of life.”
The Penitentiary Service did not comment on journalists’ questions about Aykhan Israfilov’s complaint.
Aykhan Israfilov was detained on August 11 this year by officers. A day later by court decision he was sentenced to 4 months of pre-trial arrest. He was charged under Article 234 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan (illegal manufacture, production, acquisition, storage, transportation, forwarding or sale of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their precursors).
The Confederation of Trade Unions considered the arrest of Aikhan Israfilov, who works as a courier and is also involved in the defense of workers’ rights, as a political order. As he is not the only representative of the organization who was arrested.
The chairman of the confederation Afiaddin Mammadov served 30 days of administrative arrest. Another member of the confederation Elvin Mustafayev – also a courier – was also arrested on charges of drug trafficking.
The persecution of activists began after a protest of food couriers on August 1. The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the seizure of their scooters due to innovations in traffic regulations.
Following changes in the law, the police require category A driver’s licenses from couriers under the pretext that the engine capacity of mopeds exceeds 50 cc. This rule came into effect from December 16, 2022 due to changes in the Road Traffic Act.
After the release of the confederation’s chairman Afiaddin Mammadov, it was announced that the “D18 – Democracy 1918” movement, which included the Confederation of Trade Unions, was dissolved.
The movement’s chairman Ahmed Mammadli said that after the arrests of the chairman and members in the confederation, the lack of local and international reaction to these arrests, the partial withdrawal of some activists from the movement and the lack of resources, it was decided to suspend activities.
“Political stagnation and the impossibility of expanding the ranks of the organization led us to the decision to stop the activities of the movement. The majority of members also supported this idea. By a majority of votes at the extraordinary congress, we decided that the activity should be stopped. We will continue our activities to protect the arrested members of the movement, but now individually,” he said.
The “D18 – Democracy 1918” movement was founded in 2014. The movement was later joined by the Workers’ Table Confederation of Trade Unions, the Center for Student Power, and a number of regional labor groups.