Target: Zakir Qaralov, Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan
Goal: Launch a full investigation into an imprisoned journalist’s allegations of torture and ensure that his rights are respected as long as he remains in custody
It sounds like a scene from a dystopian film: a prisoner is escorted into court blindfolded, accompanied by masked guards. However, this was a real-life scene in Azerbaijan, as journalist Parviz Hashimli was brought to one of many hearings that will determine his fate. Hashimli has brought multiple allegations of torture against his jailors, but the government has failed to heed his cries for help. Sign the petition and demand justice and fair treatment for Parviz Hashimli.
Amnesty International believes that Hashimli, who is “a columnist for the independent ‘Bizim Yol’ newspaper, owner of the Moderator.az news website and the Director of the NGO Defense Center for Political and Civil Rights (DCPCR),” is being held solely due to his outspoken politics. The government of Azerbaijan maintains that Hashimli is being detained on charges of possessing smuggled weapons; he was traveling with Tevekkul Gurbanov when Gurbanov’s car was searched and found to contain contraband guns and bullets. Hashimli denies these charges.
During his detention, Hashimli alleges that he has been tortured and subjected to secret interrogations within the military complex in which he is being held. He claims that he has been blindfolded before being brought to these interrogation rooms, so he is unable to identify their locations. Notes in which he detailed instances of torture he suffered have been confiscated by prison officials, and Hashimli’s lawyer was detained for nearly an hour before he was forced to surrender the notes. The lawyer also claims that Hashimli’s calls for medical evaluations have been ignored.
All prisoners–no matter what their crime or where they are being held–are entitled to basic human rights such as unfettered access to legal counsel, necessary medical treatment, and freedom from torture or ill-treatment. Sign the petition and raise your voice in support of Parviz Hashimli.
Dear Prosecutor General,
I am writing to express my deep concern over the treatment of Parviz Hashimli, who has been held–in defiance of legal protocol–at the Ministry of National Security (MNS) Investigative Detention Center since September 17, 2013. I fear for his safety and do not believe that his rights are being protected and honored by government forces. I urge you to ensure that Parviz Hashimli is being treated in accordance with international human rights standards, and I demand a full, impartial, and public investigation into his multiple allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
Hashimli claims that he has been blindfolded on multiple occasions and led to secret interrogation rooms. While a full investigation is required to absolutely verify his claims of secret and illegal interrogations, there is photographic evidence to back up his claims regarding the use of a blindfold; videos taken as Hashimli was led into earlier hearings have shown him with a hood over his head, escorted by masked men. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture steadfastly opposes the use of blindfolds, which constitute a form of psychological torture and provide a means for torturers and interrogators to violate legal standards with impunity.
Furthermore, prison officials have done everything they can to silence Hashimli’s repeated claims of torture, confiscating written allegations and even going so far as to detain his lawyer when he tried to take the notes out of the prison. Hashimli’s lawyer also claims that Hashimli’s requests for medical evaluations have been denied. These are not the operations of an open, fair, and just legal system. They are shady back-door dealings that reflect poorly upon the prison system and the government of Azerbaijan as a whole.
The world is watching, and it wants justice for Parviz Hashimli. Ensure that he is treated fairly, is safe from torture and ill-treatment, is provided with medical care and legal counsel, and is not subjected to secret interrogations and blindfoldings.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: steph68a via DeviantArt