Law 17:28 28/03/2014

FIDH and World Organization against Torture call on Azerbaijani authorities to release editor of Talysh newspaper

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization against Torture (OMCT) in the framework of the program of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders have issued a joint statement in which they call on the Azerbaijani authorities to release the editor of the Talysh newspaper Tolyshi sado Hilal Mammadov.

The statement published on the website of FIDH reads that the authors of the statement share the opinion of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and consider Mammadov's detention as arbitrary.

According to the statement, the opinion of the UN WGAD was adopted during its 68th session held in November 2013. It is noted that the government of Azerbaijan did not provide any satisfactory explanation to the allegations put forward by WGAD concerning the arbitrary character of the charges and detention of the editor. “The response from the Government does not adequately address the source’s allegations of ill-treatment (…) in detention, its concerns for his health (Halil Mammadov ed.), nor the groundless rejection of his application for an audio-visual recording of the hearing,” it is stated in the document.

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the verdict against Hilal Mammadov was the result of f exercising his right to freedom of expression.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders call on Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Hilal Mammadov as his conviction and detention is a mere attempt to silence his efforts to report human rights violations and defend minority rights in Azerbaijan.

Note that the editor-in-chief of the only Talysh newspaper in Azerbaijan Tolishi-Sado Hilal Mammadov was arrested by Azerbaijani police on June 21, 2012. He was accused of drug possession, while later the Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan accused him of state treason and espionage. On September 27 2013 Azerbaijani court found him guilty on all charges and sentenced him to 5 years imprisonment. Among other things, Mammadov is famous for his video placed on the internet “Who the hell are you? “. In summer of 2012 in front of the Azerbaijani embassy to Moscow 3 protest actions took place demanding to stop ethnocide and release Mammadov.

Note that the former editor- in- chief of Tolshi sado newspaper professor Novruzali Mammadov was arrested by Azerbaijani Special Forces in 2008. He as well was accused of espionage and in summer 2009 died in the Azerbaijani prison: he was denied a medical care, as Reporters without Borders emphasize. Two sons of Mammadov who had been subject to Azerbaijani government pressure also died: one of them got into a car accident, while the second was regularly beaten during his visits to his father.

The Talyshs are the indigenous people of the region. They are settled mainly in the southern regions of Azerbaijan and northern provinces of Iran. In Azerbaijan the Talysh are harassed because of their ethnicity. Their number in Azerbaijan, according to official data, reaches up to 112 thousand, however the Talysh believe that the official data is not valid and that their number is much higher.

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