Target: Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan
Goal: Release an activist held incommunicado on flimsy charges
Faraj Karimov, a youth activist in Azerbaijan, has never used drugs, his family claims. However, he was recently arrested for possession of drugs–and held incommunicado, without access to a lawyer or contact with his family. Authorities in Azerbaijan have a history of using trumped-up drug charges to harass and imprison activists, and Karimov’s family fears that this is the case here. Sign the petition and urge authorities in Azerbaijan to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Faraj Karimov, allow him access to a lawyer and communication with his family, and ensure that he is safe from torture and ill-treatment.
Faraj Karimov has been an outspoken critic of the government, blogging and participating in the youth branch of Musavat, the opposition political party in Azerbaijan, Amnesty International reports. The last time his family heard from him was the day of his arrest, when he called his father to report that he was being followed by plainclothes officers. His phone went dead shortly thereafter and his family had no idea of his whereabouts for several hours, until the authorities publicly announced his arrest on drug charges.
In addition to using trumped-up drug charges against activists, Azerbaijan has an unfortunate reputation for treating detainees poorly. Torture and ill-treatment are very real possibilities for prisoners, and Faraj Karimov’s family fears that this will be his fate as well. Sign the petition demanding that Faraj Karimov’s whereabouts be disclosed, that he be allowed access to a lawyer and contact with his family, and that he be protected from torture and ill-treatment.
Dear President Aliyev,
I am writing to demand the whereabouts of youth activist Faraj Karimov, who is being held incommunicado after his arrest for drug charges. I echo his family’s fears that he may be facing torture or ill-treatment, and I urge you to allow him immediate access to a lawyer and contact with his family.
Faraj is not the first Karimov to be arrested recently; his brother Siraj was arrested just days before him, also on drug charges. The family claims that neither brother has ever used drugs, and they, along with human rights activists, suspect that it is Faraj’s activism that has prompted the arrests. Freedom of expression is an internationally-recognized human right, and if either Faraj or Siraj’s arrests are connected to Faraj’s peaceful activism, then the brothers are considered prisoners of conscience and must be released immediately.
Furthermore, Faraj’s detention–without access to a lawyer or contact with his family–violates a number of other human rights standards. Azerbaijan’s less-than-stellar record when it comes to torture and ill-treatment has left Faraj’s family worried that he is being tortured.
I urge you to do what is right; immediately disclose Faraj Karimov’s whereabouts and allow him access to legal representation and his family. I also urge you to open a full and impartial investigation into the supposed drug charges against him, and I demand that, whatever his crime or legal status, he be protected from any and all instances of torture and ill-treatment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons