Talysh: Prominent Journalists and Human Rights Activists Still Under Threat in Azerbaijan
Photo Courtesy of Meydan.tv
Two months ago, renowned Talysh journalist Hilal Mammadov was taken into custody by the Azerbaijani police officer for the second time. While the official reasons for his arrest remain unclear, Mammadov’s detention seems politically motivated, as were those of activists Farid Abbasov and Rafiq Jalilov. The editor-in-chief of the only Talysh newspaper in Azerbaijan, Tolishon Sədo, fighting for its survival . Hilal Mammadov was first sentenced to a 5-year imprisonment in 2012 for alleged espionage, fuelling inter-ethnic hatred and the illegal possession of drugs, but was released in March 2016 thanks to a decree by President Aliyev’s. Mamadov’s case is not isolated: the Azerbaijani Civil Society Working Group published a report in November 2016 highlighting the cases of 119 political prisoners in the country
To better understand the situation of the Talysh people and their struggle to keep their newspaper alive, read Chai-khana ‘s investigation.
The article below was published by Meydan.tv:
The editor-in-chief of Tolyshi Sado newspaper Hilal Mammadov was arrested in Baku today.
According to his brother Sabahadddin Mammadov, a police precinct inspector came to him and requested him to speak with a series of convicts for ‘preventative purposes’.
Later, Hilal Mammadov called home and managed to report that he was being taken to the police department and was under arrest.
Later, the editor of another Talysh-language newspaper, “Tolyshon Sado” and head of the Talysh Cultural Center Rafiq Jalilov was summoned to the Investigation Department of Grave Crimes of the Prosecutor General's Office.
Talysh activist Farid Abbasov was later detained in the Masalli region of Azerbaijan.
On June 21, 2012, human rights activist and journalist Hilal Mammadov was arrested by officers of the Department for Combating Drug Addiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
He was formally charged under Article 234 of the Criminal Code (possession of narcotic substances).
On July 4, new charges were brought against him, according to articles 274 (high treason) and 283.2.2 (incitement to national, racial, social and religious hatred, enmity, ethnic discrimination), in connection with his publications, social activities and contacts with the Talysh peoples living in Iran.
International organizations "Amnesty International" and "Human Rights Watch" considered the arrest of Mammadov politically motivated, and PACE special rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan Christoph Sturser included him in the list of political prisoners.
On September 27, 2013, the court sentenced him to five years in prison with a term of imprisonment in a high-security prison.
On March 17, 2016, he was pardoned by a decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.