NIDA Activist, imprisoned since May 2016
ROLE: Activist with youth movement, NIDA (‘Exclamation mark’). NIDA, which has over 350 members, aims to achieve democratic and social change in Azerbaijan. The movement claims to have no affiliation with any political party.
FOCUS: Pro-democracy activism.
ARRESTED: 10 May 2016. On 12 May 2016, the Khatai District Court ordered Mammadov to be detained for four months pending trial.
CHARGE: Large scale drug trafficking.
CURRENT STATUS: Imprisoned. Serving 10-year prison sentence.
CASE DETAILS: Police arrested Bayram Mammadov on 10 May 2016. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Bayram Mammadov was carrying about 3 grams of heroin and more than 1 kilogram of heroin was found during a search of his apartment.
Mammadov denies the charges, which he believes were motivated by his activism, and specifically his involvement in an incident of political graffiti the day before his arrest. On the night of 9 May 2016, Bayram Mammadov and another youth activist, Giyas Ibrahimov, painted “Happy Slave Day” on a statue of Heydar Aliyev, former Azerbaijani president and father of current president, Ilham Aliyev. Bayram Mammadov took a photo of the graffiti and later shared it anonymously on Facebook. The two men were later identified by police using CCTV.
Mammadov was initially refused access to a lawyer and confessed to the narcotics charges during police questioning; however then retracted his confession in court. He alleges that the confession was extracted under torture, including beatings and rape threats by the police. During a court hearing, the judge requested an investigation into the torture allegations.
On 8 December 2016, the Baku Serious Crimes Court sentenced Mammadov to ten years imprisonment.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Police officers questioned Mammadov about the graffiti and repeatedly demanded that the activist publicly apologize for insulting Heydar Aliyev. They also forced the activist to clean the police station’s toilets while filming it, in order to humiliate him.
On 25 October 2016, the Baku Serious Crimes Court sentenced Giyas Ibrahimov with whom Mammadov painted the graffiti on the statue of the former Azerbaijani president, to ten years imprisonment on similar drug charges. This followed proceedings that many international organisations described as failing to meet the basic standards of a fair trial.
Political graffiti does not incur criminal charges. As Human Rights Watch has argued, if the police want to pursue charges for the alleged graffiti they could do so under the relevant provisions of the administrative code.
Three other members of the NIDA group are currently serving between seven and eight years in prison on fabricated charges, including weapons possession, narcotics possession, and organizing mass riots.
Compiled by ARTICLE 19 from a variety of sources. Current as of 16/06/2015.