Target: Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan Zakir Garalov
Goal: Release youth activists and open an independent investigation into allegations that they were beaten in custody.
Two youth activists in Azerbaijan are facing long prison sentences based on fabricated drug charges, and have allegedly been beaten and threatened with sexual assault as a method of coercion. Giyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov were initially arrested for spray painting a political message on a monument, but when they refused to apologize they were allegedly beaten until they confessed to drug charges, confessions they later recanted. After they confessed, police searched their homes without their families present and produced several kilograms of heroin as ‘evidence’ of Ibrahimov and Mammadov’s alleged crimes. Furthermore, they were not allowed access to a lawyer until just before their pretrial hearing, a clear violation of their right to access to legal counsel.
Authorities in Azerbaijan have a history of using fabricated drug charges to target youth activists and silence dissent. Therefore it is important that there be an independent and transparent investigation into the alleged torture and threats of harm that the two activists endured. For the past three years, the government of Azerbaijan has jailed large numbers of political activists, journalists, lawyers, and other critics of the government. Giyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov, both students at Baku Slavic University, are members of different opposition groups and have both been vocal in their opposition to the government and President Ilham Aliyev. Sign our petition to demand that the drug charges against the young men be dropped, that they be released from prison, and that their mistreatment be independently investigated.
Dear Prosecutor General Garalov,
I was alarmed to hear of the charges laid against two youth activists as well as the allegations regarding their treatment in custody. If found to be true, their treatment would amount to a gross violation of their human rights. Therefore, I urge you to open an independent and transparent investigation of this matter to bring those responsible to justice. Furthermore, I urge you to drop all drug-related charges against them as it is clear that there are irregularities in the processes of obtaining confessions and the evidence.
Neither Mr. Mammadov nor Mr. Ibrahimov contest the minor offense that caused their initial arrest. However, there are clear consequences for their defacing of a monument, as outlined in the administrative code. Pursuing greater charges against them amounts to intimidation of other activists, and shows a lack of respect for free speech, freedom of expression, and other basic human rights. Furthermore, the alleged mistreatment of the activists during detention is not only illegal, but contrary to international conventions. Therefore, I must urge you to do everything in your power to see that the charges are dropped and that the allegations of human rights violations are investigated in an independent and transparent manner.
[Your Name Here]
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