Arbitrary treatment of civilians in Nakhchivan

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders strongly condemns the actions of law enforcement organs of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic against peaceful civilians. On December 27, 2009, during a religious ceremony, the residents of Julfa district Bananiyar village in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic were subjected to physical pressure by the police.

Several people were taken to the police station where also they were subjected to physical pressure. Then the police wanted to take them to a psychiatric hospital. In protest against this arbitrariness, the son of one of the detainees, 34-year-old father of three children Aliyev Yunis committed self-immolation. Before committing this action, he warned the police that he would pour petroleum on himself and burn himself. And the police told him, “go ahead.” Yunis took out the match and began burning himself. 

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders reminds that the law enforcement agencies should be prosecuted under article 125 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Bringing a person, who is taking place in material, service or other dependence from guilty, to suicide or to attempt at suicide by threats, cruel treatment or regular humiliation of his dignity – shall be punished by restriction of freedom for the term up to three years or imprisonment for the term from three up to seven years.) and article 143 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Wittingly leaving without help of a person whose life or health is in danger and deprived from opportunities to arrange he self-preservation in cases, if guilty had an opportunity to assist this person and was obliged to take care, or had resulted by putting the life or health of the person in danger – is punished by fine of up to three hundred nominal financial unit, or by corrective work for the term of up to one year, or imprisonment for the term of up to six months).

On January 5 a new wave of arrests began in the village during which women and old were arrested and sent to psychiatric hospital. The fate of many of the missing villagers is not known to their own families. 

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders noted that this is not the first time completely healthy people were placed in a psychiatric hospital in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. In 2008, as a result of protest against the tyranny of the police the parents of arrested young people, against whom torture was used, were placed in the psychiatric hospital. Subsequently, some time after his release from the psychiatric hospital, 70-year-old father of one of the young people died. The perpetrators were never brought to responsibility. The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders points out that this fact was discussed during the hearing of the report on Azerbaijan in the United Nations Committee against Torture, and provoked sharp denunciation from the members of the committee.

Journalists and local human rights activists, including the Rafto Awarded journalist Malahat Nasibova from the Democracy and NGO´s Development Resource Center, who attempted to be familiar with the situation on the ground were not let in the village. Also, when trying to get information from the villagers both the journalists and human rights defenders were subjected to insults and threats over the phone by unknown individuals. All communication channels were ceased in the village for 36 hours.

 The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders points out that these actions fall under article 163 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic (Impending journalists in their legal professional activities. 163.1. 163.1. Impending journalists in their legal professional activities by forcing them to disseminate or refuse to disseminate information, with use of violence or with threat of its application – is punished by the penalty at a rate of from hundred up to five hundred of nominal financial unit or corrective works for the term up to one year. 163.2. The same act committed by official with use of the service position – is punished by corrective works for the term up to two years or with imprisonment for the term up to one year with deprivation of the right to hold the certain posts or to engage in the certain activities for the term up to three years or without it.) and demands from law enforcement organs to punish those responsible for these actions in accordance with the law. In the Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture, CAT/C/AZE/CO/3, 19 November 2009 it states that the Committee is concerned about numerous reports of forced confinement in psychiatric hospitals in Nakhchivan, of persons for reasons other than medical (art. 11 and 16). Further they recommend the authorities to "take measures to ensure that no one is involuntarily placed in psychiatric institutions for reasons other than medical."

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls on Azerbaijani authorities to end lawlessness and arbitrariness in the territory of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and give journalists and human rights defenders unrestricted access and let them to continue to operate without interferences

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders urges the international community to pay special attention to the incidents in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

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