President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Office of President
19 Istiqlaiyyat St.
I am writing to urge you to immediately release the detained youth activists from the civic movement NIDA.
Shahin Novruzlu, Rashadat Akundov, Mammad Azizov, Bakhtiyar Guliyev, Zaur Gurbanli, Rashad Hasanov, Uzeyir Mammadli and Ilkin Rustamzade were detained on criminal charges of possessing explosives and intent of public disorder. Human rights organizations believe these charges have been fabricated. The actual reason for their arrest was their criticism of the Azerbaijani authorities and their online activism, calling for peaceful demonstrations. The activists face up to 12 years in prison.
Shahin Novruzlu, who was only 17 at the time of his arrest, has lost his front teeth as a result of torture in detention. Mammad Azizov and Bakhtiyar Guliyev have complained of torture too.
From 14 May 2014, Azerbaijan will chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This organization is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights, and I am deeply concerned that there are civil society activists in Azerbaijan tortured and imprisoned solely for expressing their views and organizing peaceful protests.
Azerbaijan must live up to the high expectations of the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The NIDA activists must be immediately released.