March 7-8, 2013 – Opposition youth detained — Three activists were detained before the March 10 protest against Death of Military Conscripts. On March 7, 3 members of the youth opposition group N!DA, Bakhtiyar Guliyev, Shahin Novruzlu, and Mahammad Azizov. According to the witnesses, plainclothes men dragged one of the activists towards a black SUV. Later that day Ministry of National Security investigators searched these men’s homes and allegedly discovered illegal drugs, Molotov cocktails, and large amounts of money. Family members of detainees claim that all of the seized illegal items were planted by the authorities.
On March 8th the Ministry of National Security and the Chief Prosecutors office issued a statement where they claim that they have detained 3 persons who are responsible for excitation of violence and civil confrontation (planning on giving protesters drugs) during the upcoming rally.
According to the statement, the detainees were on Facebook calling for more violent forms of protest and were actively discussing preparation and usage of smoke grenades and Molotov cocktails during the rally.
Reportedly, 23 bottles of Molotov cocktails; approximately $100,000 in cash; 507.67 grams of hashish; 190.02 grams of marijuana was confiscated from the homes of the activists.
The 3 men are now facing criminal charges on Articles 234.1. Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity (amount) exceeding necessary for personal consumption and Article 228.1 Illegal purchase, transfer, selling, storage, transportation or carrying of … explosives.
The activists are facing up to 3 years in prison.
According to a statement issued by the N!DA Movement, this is politically motivated with the purpose of silencing and frightening protesters.
ANS TV prepared a video report on the arrest of the three NIDA activists, which aired on March 9. The video includes statements the activists gave to law enforcement officials. It’s not clear if the statements were coerced or not, but the statement of Azizov has evidence of editing/splicing at the 43rd second.
In the video, first detained NIDA activist Mammad Azizov speaks. Then detained NIDA activist Bakhtiyar Guliyev speaks. TRANSLATION COMING SOON.
Shahin Novruzlu, the other detained NIDA activist, is not present in the video disseminated by ANS.
In an interview to Turan News Agency (Contact.az), relatives of arrested NIDA activists Shahin Novruzlu denied the charges. According to them, law enforcement officers brought the drugs and Molotov cocktails to the apartment. They added that Novruzlu is under 18 y/o and does not smoke cigarettes. However, the 94,000 AZN (nearly 120,000 USD) seized belongs to Novruzlu’s father and was earmarked for a business venture.
Rasim Azizov, the father of arrested NIDA activists Mahammad Azizov, has also denied the accusations his son is facing in an interview to Turan News Agency. The father said he does not know where his son is being held. “I have not heard anything about it, except for messages on television. I live in Sheki. Hearing the information on television, I came to Baku. My son did not even smoke cigarettes and I never saw him consume alcohol. I believe him more than myself,” said R. Azizov.
Also, on March 8, Mahir Bayramli, the Musavat activist who was detained by police in Ganja on the same day the NIDA activists were arrests, was reportedly sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Bayramli’s wife Gulbaniz Uluturk told RFE/RL that it is unclear what charges Bayramli has been convicted on.
According to Turan News Agency, two of the three NIDA activists, Bakhtiyar Guliyev and Shahin Novruzlu, have been sentenced to three months pretrial detention. The activists were reportedly represented at the hearing on their pre-trial detention by lawyers provided by the government, however activists’ families and their own lawyers were not information about the hearing. According to the father of detained activists Mammad Azizov, he still has no information about his son’s whereabouts.
Bakhtiyar Guliyev and Shahin Novruzlu are accused of violating articles 234.1 and 228.1 of Azerbaijan Criminal Code. Mammed Azizov is accused of violating articles 234.1.
Reports and Commentary:
The apartments of NIDA activists planted drugs and Molotov cocktail. March 8, 2013. Contact.
Azerbaijani Youth Activists Detained Ahead Of Public Protest. March 8, 2013. RFERL.
«Nida»çı gənclərə cinayət işi açıldı. March 8, 2013. RFERL.
Bakıda insanları zorakılığa və vətəndaş qarşıdurmasına təhrik edən 3 şəxs saxlanılıb. March 8, 2013. Trend.
Azeri Government Carries Out Stalin-Era Arrests and Kidnapping Ahead of Youth Protest on March 10. March 8, 2013. Azeri Report.
Father of Detained Activist Rejects Charges of Drug Possession. March 9, 2013. Contact.
Relatives of NIDA Activist Shahin Novruzlu Reject Charges against Him. March 9, 2013. Contact.
3 student activists arrested in Azerbaijan before protest. Associated Press. March 9, 2013.
ANS TV Video Report.
Saxlanılan NİDA -çı gənclərə 3 aylıq həbs qəti imkan tədbiri seçilib. Contact.az. March 10, 2013.
Azeri police briefly detain 20 participants in OSCE training in Baku. March 10, 2013. Turan.
Azeri news agency says activists’ detention politically motivated. March 10, 2013. Turan.
Statement on kidnapping of three members of Nida Civic Movement
UPDATED MARCH 12