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Stealing news from Azerbaijan.
Abdulla Taghiyev, an activist from “N!DA” Popular Movement, was sentenced to 4 days in prison. His friends, who found out about his sentence on 13 March, estimate that he was detained on 10 March. Neither the student activist’s friends nor his family have been able to get any news of him, though he should have been released by now.
His friend Elmar Murselli speaks about the situation before Abdulla went missing:
“On 13 March we tried to contact Abdulla. Our calls weren’t going through. We thought he went to the regions to see his family. In the end we looked at his Facebook status: he wrote, “I’m going to the police.” The police told him that there are illegal lodgers staying at his house, so they are searching for him. When he went to the police, they detained him on the spot, took his phone, sentenced him to 4 days and took him to Binagadi Temporary Detention Center.”
The information about Adulla Taghiyev being held at Binagadi Temporary Detention Center was given by Rashadat Akhundov, who was sentenced to 5 days on 8 March himself:
“We saw each other accidentally while we were out for a walk, on the 11th in the evening. He said, I’ve been sentenced to 4 days, police had been watching the area around my house for 2 days. They detained him on the 10th.”
Though Abdulla Taghiyev’s 4 day sentence has concluded, so far nobody has been able to contact him. Binagadi District Police Station has told RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service that nobody by that name is at the detention center now.
Orkhan Mansurzada, Head of the Press Office department at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, says that the parents of those detained or missing must call 102 or call the respective police station.
APFP activist Dayanat Babayev and Musavat activist Sakhavat Soltanli were secretly detained on 4 March and 8 March respectively. Information about their whereabouts was discovered later on.
The location of these activists was found out by Operational Reaction Group – a mobile group created by several lawyers.
Mahmud Hajiyev, former police chief and expert at Independent Scientific and Practical Legal Center, says that it is illegal to call somebody to the police station for different reasons: “If there is a lodger living at someone’s house illegally, a field inspector can come and clear up the question. You don’t call people to the police station for this. This is an excuse, they called him there with this excuse. It’s not right. Someone makes appeals about their son, their brother, and there is no news from them. Then they find out that this person has been detained for however many days, and is at this detention center.”
According to Mahmud Hajiyev, detaining people by these means is abduction. He says that if a citizen is sentenced for any number of days, his family must be informed unconditionally.
In its statement released on 12 March, Human Rights Watch also notes that in at least two recent cases, the families of online activists who were detained were uninformed of their whereabouts and that the authorities did not confirm their detention for several days. The statement stresses: “Refusing to reveal the whereabouts of a person who has been deprived of liberty deprives the person of the protection of the law and constitutes an enforced disappearance, a serious human rights violation.”