The prison sentence of Azerbaijani political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has been commuted to probation
The Federal Government’s Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement in this connection:
I am very pleased about the release of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. Only a year ago I tried to visit him in a prison near Baku. However, the authorities refused to let me see him.
I hope other prisoners will be released, too. Regrettably, many people are still in custody because of their political activities. I call for their immediate release, as well.
Azerbaijan signed the European Convention on Human Rights, obliging it to guarantee freedom of opinion and demonstration. Detaining and sentencing people for voicing their dissent is incompatible with this obligation!
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is a political activist and ran for Parliament in November 2010 as an independent candidate. He was remanded in custody on 4 March 2011 and sentenced to two years in prison on 18 May 2011 as a conscientious objector (Art. 321.1 of the Criminal Code).
Although the indictment was based on applicable law, circumstances suggest that the conviction had a political background: Mr Hajiyev was detained shortly after he had co-initiated the Facebook youth protest of 11 March 2011.
Mr Hajiyev’s appeal was rejected on 6 July 2011. An action brought by him against the Baku Prosecutor’s office on the grounds that physical force had been applied during his interrogation was turned down on 20 July 2011. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan rejected a relevant complaint by Mr Hajiyev at the end of 2011.