Azerbaijani leftists call for solidarity with Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov, anarchist activists that have been detained by the Azerbaijani authorities for painting a graffiti, saying “Fuck the system” and “Happy slaves’ day”, on the monument to the deceased former president Heydar Aliyev in an act of protest against the continued injustices perpetuated by the ruling elites. This was done on the eve of Heydar Aliyev’s birthday on May 10, 2016, which is annually being celebrated by the government in a wasteful manner. Given an absolute personality cult of Aliyev, such an act was severely condemned by the government (under the leadership of his son Ilham Aliyev) and the activists were arrested on May 10, 2016. Police have planted drugs on them to avoid charging them on the grounds of hooliganism.
The latter is punishable by imprisonment only up to a year (which for the Aliyev’s regime is “too mild” of a punishment), while the charges on illegal possession of heroin are punishable by up to twelve years of imprisonment. The fact that the police have “discovered” nearly three kg of heroin in each of the detainee’s possession at the moment of arrest testifies to the fact that the case has been fabricated (a sane person wouldn’t be hanging around the city with that much heroin hidden in pockets, would he?). On May 12, a court ordered their detention for a period of four months. However, if convicted they face up to twelve years of imprisonment. Bayram and Qiyas have been severely tortured both before and after the court hearing. Their lawyer Elchin Sadigov has shared via Facebook Bayram’s detailed statement on tortures continuously faced by him at the 12th Police Department in Baku and the Baku City Police Center. Below is the translation of Bayram’s statement:
“On 10 may 2016, around 14-15:00 3 person with civilian outfits forced me to get on white “Jeep” model car and took me to 12th Police Department. They brought me to chief officer’s office. There were 7-8 officers in civilian outfit. They immediately began to punch, slap and kick me. They were asking me why I took picture of graffity, who is my associate and so on. However, I weren’t able to answer their questions as I lost my consciousness. They brought me to Baku City Police Center by an unknown car. I’ve been beaten again and told to accept the narcotic related charges. I told them that I’ve never seen narcotics in my life and you can’t arrest me for taking a photo, this caused them to beat me harder and demand to accept the charges. They were cursing and insulting me. They took my pants off and threatened me with using baton “immorally” on me, that’s why I had to accept the charges. And I had to “confess” a testament what they wanted.
Then, they brought me to a general’s office and told me that “if you put flowers in front of state and talk to AzTV, apoligize to statue you will be released”.
I refused this, then they beat me again. They brought me to Narimanov TDC (Temporary Detention Center). On 11 May morning, chief officer ordered me to clean the yard, pick up the cigarette butts. I refused and he started to beat me with punching and slapping. I refused again and he ordered his men to pick up a baton and force it into me and then took photo. I had to agree again. They gave me a broom and a dustpan, took my photo. These beatings began to be daily.
After court hearing in 12 May, they took me to TDC chief’s office. There were 2 people in civilian clothes, they told me to spell some names and accuse them to work with me. They told me to put flowers in front of statue, talk to AzTV and they would release me until it’s not too late. I refused this and they phoned someone and told him “take care of him for a while”. They took me to lower floors. I was handcuffed as they were beating me with punches, kicks and batons.
They even shackled my foots, they tamed my mouth so no one would hear me while they beating.
They saw that handcuffes and shackles made a torture sign on me, so they taped my hands and legs to my back. They put me on ground, one of them was holding my foot while the other one was making bastinado. Then they took me higher and releasing me suddenly, causing me to fall several times. After 4 or 5 times, tapes were torn apart and this time they started to rumple on my hands with their legs. Other one was still foot whipping me. Then they punched my chest and knees with back of a baton. I was losing my consciense and they put me down. They were tired too. They put a white paper on me and told me that if they see this one falling they will beat me again. They did so afterwards.
After a while, they demanded from me to clean the toilet. When I refused this, they started to beat me more harder, this time while filming me with a camera.
I lost my consciousness after that, they woke me up by pouring water on me. They took me to my cell while I was barefooted. Right now I have many bruises on my arms, legs and knees because of torture. Open bruises are on my hands and wrist. I still have head trauma. I have open wounds on my legs too. My urine is mostly with blood, my mouth causes me heavy pain while I eat, my chest, ribs, arms, legs… every part of me hurts.”
It is not the first time that the authorities are demanding from the activists in Azerbaijan to apologize for their acts in front of Heydar Aliyev’s monuments and lay flowers to it. As James Scott has mentioned “Remorse, apologies, asking forgiveness, and generally, making symbolic amends are a more vital element in almost any process of domination than punishment itself… What all these actors offer (through the apology) is a SHOW of discursive affirmation from below, which is all the more valuable since it contributes to the impression that the symbolic order is willingly accepted by its least advantaged members.” The Aliyevs have been impoverishing the nation and exploiting the people as well as the country’s resources for their own benefit for more than two decades. Meanwhile they have been intolerant of any political dissent, severely oppressing the dissenters through their massive security apparatus.
We call on our comrades in Europe and elsewhere to stand for solidarity with Bayram and Qiyas and protest against their illegal imprisonment and torture in front of Azerbaijani embassies and consulates in your countries, demanding for their immediate release. Please also disseminate this call among as many people as possible.