resident of Mingachevir city beaten by the police over social media posts

January 29, 2021 – Resident of Mingachevir city, Sardar Asgarov was taken to local police, beaten, and forced to apologize over his criticism of the local government officials on social media. 

In an interview with Meydan TV, a Berlin-based online news platform, covering Azerbaijan, Asgarov said, a man showed up at his door on January 26 in the morning telling him, he was coming from the Mingachevir Employment Center. Once Sadigov stepped outside of his door, three other men showed up and attacked Sadigov. 

According to Sadigov he was then taken to the local police where the city’s deputy chief, Javid Talibov slapped him, used derogatory language and told him who was he to criticize local administration, and the head of the police on social media. “He then forced me to kneel, and to apologize while Talibov was filming me with his phone,” Sadigov told Meydan TV. 

The same day, Sadigov was fined and let go. 

Sadigov said both his mobile phones that were taken by the police were formated and his accounts on social media platforms were deleted. “The deputy chief told me if I criticize local authorities again, he will find a way to arrest me.”

In the meantime, Mingachevir City Police told Meydan TV, Sadigov was detained for hooliganism and fined for 50AZN and that Sadigov’s claims about violence and threats he was subject to at the police are not true. Similarly, the city administrative office refuted Sadigov’s claims that he was detained on the orders of the office. The office also said they consider Sadigov’s comments on social media as slander. 

Sadigov’s posts on social media criticized one of the city government departments for withholding salaries of women employees, and not helping them during the pandemic. Sadigov also criticized the city police for preventing these women from protesting.  

forced posts removal from Facebook continue in Azerbaijan

On January 13, Elmir Abbasov, a member of NIDA movement, was taken against his will to local police station in the city of Sumgayit where he was questioned over his Facebook post about president Ilham Aliyev.

In his interview with Azadliq Radio, Abbasov said, he was on his way to a shop when a man told Abbasov to get into the car for a chat at the police station. Abbasov, who said without a warrant he won’t be going anywhere, was then shuved into the car and taken to the station by force.

Abbasow spent the next two hours at the police station, where he was informed that the reason for his interrogation was a Facebook post, he wrote about the President. He was told to immediately delete the post. 

AIW spoke with Abbasov about the content of the post which is no longer available on the social media platform.

Under normal circumstances this post would not be considered critical but in Azerbaijan, the sensitivity around certain personalities as in the case of the president are common and not tolerated. 

In the case of Abbasov’s post, it was a comment about an economic system heavily reliant on hydrocarbons. This has been voiced by international financial institutions, experts and pundits alike for a long time.

Similarly, Abbasov’s post stressed the country’s economy, over reliance to fluctuating oil price as a result of its dependence and recommended that the president takes recommendations by independent economists seriously rather than dismiss them. 

Three days before Abbasov was taken to the police and ordered to delete his post from Facebok, one freelance journalist [name omitted due to safety concerns] was told to delete a Facebook post, that was critical of the local law enforcement. Namely, the journalist desrcibed seeing one officer, take a bribe from a man stopped on the street as part of the COVID measures in place. The source told AIW, the measure was taken in an attempt to keep the reputation of the local agency clean.