Monday, October 26

Life in a prison cell of a political prisoner

Prison is a terrible place. It is worse if you are there not because of a particular crime you have committed but because of the crimes others have committed but trying to frame you. In Azerbaijan this phenomenon is called political prisoner and have many of these folks. In fact, we have more political prisoners than in Russia.

One of these prisoners is Ilgar Mammadov, presidential candidate, leader of a political movement. He was arrested after a visit to a town Ismayilli. In 2013 mass riots broke out there with people demanding attention to their grievances. And they had many. Poor infrastructure, corrupt administrative officers and so on. 

Mammadov went to see what was going on. The two was surrounded by the military (yes, the government in Baku was that afraid this might end up having a domino effect on other nearby regions as well). There was little information coming out. 

Mammadov was arrested shortly after his visit into Ismayilli. He was accused of organizing mass riots against the government and sentenced to seven years. 

But that is the story of many political prisoners. All sentenced on trumped charges, with no proof. 

People of Ismayilli would have never protested if they had better life standards, if they had better access to social services, and proper infrastructure. They would have not went on the streets had their administrative office was not a place of corruption and bribery but a place that actually dealt with people's problems and addressed their issues. But no, it was easier to jail political activists especially in the run up to the presidential elections to get red of competition and teach others a lesson. 

Mammadov's imprisonment however wasn't an end to silencing him and preventing him from continuing his political work. He has been beaten too. 

But in Azerbaijani prison, when a political prisoner is beaten, threaten, intimidated- it means golden stars for prison guard and the head of the prison from Baku's prosecutor office. Its as if they are assigned special homework. And beating is just one of the exercise assigned by the ruthless teacher. 

Mammadov's lawyer complained but it means nothing. 

It means so little that he was only seen by a doctor 5 days after he was beaten. 

Mammadov however thinks there is a reason behind these numerous attacks- to force him into signing a letter of pardon, apologizing. 

But apologizing for what? For wanting to change Azerbaijan for a better? For standing up for his rights and for the rights of others? For being an honest man? 

Official Baku proved on many occasions that none of the above really matter. It is only about consolidating more power, crushing down on more independent voices, and making sure people live in a constant state of fear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While you're telling us your story, I started to scroll through your blog and I'm shocked about how much we are missing. Aserbaidschan isn't really present in Europe, at least not if you don't search for informations and articles specifically to this topic. I think I can speak for all the students who are attending the lecture right now when I say: You impressed us deeply and we thank you for giving us new insight on this topic.
Keep up your good work and continue fighting!
Love from JGU Mainz ;)