Since the 2 April protest took place, Azerbaijani TV stations have incessantly been showing reports about the events. Reports that in no way reflect reality, but reports nonetheless. They show “ordinary citizens” (who are, in fact, members of pro-government ‘NGO’s) making statements about how wrong it is for Azeris abroad to call for protests, how un-Azeri, unpatriotic it is, and that we should all sit down and cry about Karabakh instead.
We see bandaged policemen in hospital beds, speaking with uncharacteristically fragile voices and pitiful faces, making generic statements about injuries and struggling to remember anything. Like scenes from a bad high school play.
Here is RFE/RL’s report about what the poor injured policemen had to say:
[Original in Azeri]
“They were shouting, beat the police! Hit the police! They had pieces of metal in their hands. They were out of control, attacking us.” Afat Nabiyev, sergeant of Nasimi district post patrol detachment, says he was injured during the 2 April protest organized by Ictimai Palata (Public Chamber, a coalition of opposition parties).
The sergeant refuses to consider that those who injured him were groups of saboteurs:
“No, no! There were even well-known people, you know, people we repeatedly see at these protests. They were at the head of this. Personally I have seen the person who hit me in the newspapers. I knew him. He was instructing people – beat the police, beat the public.”
Afat Nabiyev describes the person who attacked him: “He was bald, not too short, but not tall, normal [the interviewee says this and takes a deep breath – like a student who is having problems reciting the text he memorized]. They had broken glass, rocks in their hands. Metal pipes. They broke people’s shop windows, cars, with whatever they could get their hands on.”
A little later, Afat Nabiyev says that the person who attacked him was Arif Hajili, head of Musavat Party executive body. But he says this name laughing, so it is hard to tell whether he is joking or serious. The sergeant also does not know whether the person who beat him has been arrested or not.
Arif Hajili’s lawyer Asabali Mustafayev says that the policeman’s words are “inadmissible accusations”. According to him if Afat Nabiyev has any evidence, it should have been shown when Hajili was being arrested. Mustafayev adds that there was also no mention of this when Arif Hajili was being questioned in court. But Asabali Mustafayev does not rule out that his client could face more accusations:
“Arif Hajili was not part of the organizing bodies the protest. So it is ridiculous to accuse him of organizing it. Perhaps they want to change the charges.”
We ask the police sergeant Afat Nabiyev: “So how is it that the policemen are able to immediately catch all these protesters that were peacefully chanting slogans, but not those who attack the police or order people to attack them? How is it that this person was able to escape this encirclement of police?” The answer: “Nobody escaped us out of the people we detained. There was a big crowd. We couldn’t fight them all. It was a bit difficult.”
Afat Nabiyev recalls what happened: “I was injured during the unrest on the 2nd [of April]. They kicked me in my back, I was on the floor. Right next to the Conservatory, near the park. Where the crowd was gathering. That’s where they kicked me. My back was hurt. I fell to the ground. Seeing this, my coworkers took me away. When I woke up, I saw that I’m in the emergency room. My back was hurt, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t feel my legs.”
Elshan Nuriyev, operations representative of Nasimi district 22nd police station, says:
“On the 2nd, while I was on duty, someone at Fountain Square suddenly attacked us. As they attacked they shouted, the police have to be attacked, they have to be beaten. We were injured as a result of their attack, I mean a few policemen. And I was one of them.”
The police major cannot tell what he was hit on the head with: “It was a crowd. They had pieces of metal wrapped in newspaper in their hands. With a rock… They hit me on the head with something. But I can’t tell what with, exactly.”
Elshan Nuriyev also excludes any possibility that the attackers were saboteurs:
“It was an unsanctioned rally. There couldn’t be sabotage there.”
Sergeant Majid Yusifov, who is being treated in hospital, has an almost identical story: “There were about 30-40 of them, in front of “Nizami” theater. We were trying to stop it. As we entered the crowd, they hit us with something from behind. I didn’t even know what. When I woke up I was already at the hospital. My head was injured, I’ve had six stitches. I’ve been in resuscitation for three days now.”
On 2 April, 24 policemen went to the hospital at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 13 of them were hospitalized. Head of the traumatology department at the hospital Vitaly Maharramov told Azadliq Radiosu (RFE/RL Azeri service) that two of them were in a serious condition and were taken into resuscitation and that the patients are now in satisfactory condition.
Head of the Azerbaijan Committee Against Torture Elchin Behbudov says that he followed the proceedings on 2 April along with his coworkers – at Nizami street, Fountain Square, and near the Jafar Jabbarli monument.
He says that during the monitoring, he only saw one policeman with injuries to the head, but did not see who injured the policeman.
Deputy head of Musavat Party Mehman Javadoghlu says that no calls were made on people to attack policemen or show resistance to them.
According to information given by Ictimai Palata, there were also plenty of protesters who were inured: Tofig Yagublu, Musafa Hajili, Ahad Mammadli, Tazakhan Miralamli, Tural Abbasli, Khalig Bahadir, Yashar Turkazar, Ramin Bakhish and others. A full list has not been prepared yet. But some of this information was registered at the temporary detention center.