Ilgar Mammadov, a prominent political prisoner in Azerbaijan, says he was attacked recently by three prison officials, and expressed fear for his life.
Mammadov was arrested in early 2013 and received a seven-year sentence following conviction on a charge of inciting violence. At the time of his arrest, he was a leader of the Republican Alternative (REAL), a group opposing the policies of President Ilham Aliyev’s administration. Rights activists assert the criminal case against Mammadov was politically motivated. Shortly after his conviction in 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that his arrest violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The Azerbaijani government has ignored at least two appeals by the Council of Europe calling for Mammadov’s release.
In a handwritten note dated October 20 and written from behind bars, Mammadov described being assaulted by three top prison officials in the facility where he is serving his sentence. The three officials “beat me up severely,” Mammadov wrote, adding that the episode occurred on October 16. He did not speculate about possible causes for the incident.
Mammadov’s letter urges rights activists and foreign diplomats to keep raising his case with Azerbaijani leaders. “The beating is in line with the death threats I had received earlier from top management of the Penitentiary Service,” he wrote. “The Council of Europe and other international bodies, as well as [the] local community, are aware of such threats.”
Rights watchdogs have documented a dramatic decline in individual liberties in Azerbaijani in recent years, and assert that authorities in Baku are holding roughly 80 individuals for political reasons. Azerbaijani authorities deny holding any political prisoners. The country is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on November 1.