Crude Accountability is deeply concerned about the use of brutal violence against opposition candidates, journalists, and election observers during and following the February 9 snap Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.
Crude Accountability calls upon western governments, including the US and the European Union, and international organizations such as the OSCE to hold the government of Azerbaijan accountable for the use of violence against citizens exercising their fundamental rights to free and fair elections, expression, association, and assembly, enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This includes identifying and publicly naming the perpetrators of violence against Azerbaijani citizens.
The elections, called 9 months in advance of schedule by Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev, were marred by fraud and violence, with no seats won by opposition candidates. The preliminary report of the OSCE International Election Observation Mission states that both the legislative and political environments in Azerbaijan prevented any real competition. The US Mission to the OSCE observed significant procedural problems on Election Day, including ballot box stuffing, group voting, disregard for reconciliation procedures, and limited transparency during vote counting. Unfortunately, this is business as usual in Azerbaijan. The violence against members of the opposition and civil society as they exercised their fundamental rights of expression, association, and assembly is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by the international community.
Election day itself was marred with violence. An observer from the campaign of independent candidate Anar Asadli was beaten by members of the electoral commission for protesting against carousel voting at a polling station in the Guba constituency. Two women observers were severely beaten, including Zhala Bayramova, a law student at Baku State University, who suffered a concussion and multiple bruises after being beaten and dragged by the hair through the polling station after trying to explain the rights of the commission (video). Konul Suleymanli was similarly beaten in the Mashtagh constituency.
Members of the opposition party, journalists, and peaceful protesters were attacked on February 11th. Several defeated opposition candidates gathered in front of the office of the Central Election Commission (CEC) in Baku on the afternoon of the 11th for a peaceful sit-in. By evening, the authorities considered the protest unauthorized and police were brought in, who attacked some of the protesters. Arzulla Buludlu, a member of the opposition Musavat party, was beaten so badly his injuries required him to spend three days in the hospital, although the police reportedly shouted at the doctors to discharge him right away. Rabiyya Mammadova, another candidate, had her hand broken. Further, the OSCE reported that at least 8 journalists were injured at this protest. Among those who were injured, Mustafa Hajibeyli was seriously beaten, journalist Aynur Elgunesh was hit in the head, and journalist Sevinc Vaqifqizi suffered bruises on the face and arms.
This display of violence is in absolute violation of the International Covenant on Human Rights and the international community must express its outrage and hold accountable those who perpetrated the violence against those exercising their rights.
For more information, please contact:
Director, South Caspian Energy and Environment