Parents of Imprisoned NIDA Activists Join Hunger Strike of Their Children
BAKU. April 18, 2014: Yesterday, as the state prosecutor demanded unusually high prison sentences for the NIDA activists, they declared their decision to go on a hunger strike.
Parents of the imprisoned NIDA activists announced today that they will join the hunger strike of their children by starting the hunger strike on April 20. Eight NIDA activists - Ilkin Rustamzade, Zaur Gurbanli, Rashadat Akhundov, Rashad Hasanov, Uzeyir Mammadli, Bakhtiyar Guliyev, Mammad Azizov, and Shahin Novruzlu - have been arrested on the eve of the presidential elections last year and have been facing various criminal charges ranging from incitement to riots and illegal storage of explosives to drug possession and hooliganism. Yesterday, the state prosecutor demanded prison sentences from five to eight years for NIDA activists.
Today, at the press conference held at the office of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), the parents of the imprisoned NIDA activists announced that their hunger strike is their protest against the imprisonment of their children. Sakina Gurbanova, mother of Zaur GurbanlI, noted that the prosecutor Nemat Avazov, did not even take any time to prepare to make his closing speech on her son's case, and immediately stepped up to demand a long prison sentence for her son. "The prosecutor repeated word for word the indictment, announced six months ago at the beginning of the trial. It turns out that the trial, which lasted for months, completely disregarded all arguments of the defense and the evidence they introduced to defend my son," said Gurbanova.
The parents of the accused NIDA activists will begin a hunger strike demanding the release of all the imprisoned NIDA activists. The hunger strike will take place at the headquarters of the opposition party Musavat.
During her speech at the press conference, Sakina Gurbanova drew attention to the unusual severity of the sentence demanded by the prosecutor, even if the defendants were not falsely accused by the government and had actually committed the crimes alleged by the prosecution.
Metanet Akhundova , the accused Rashadat Akhundov’s mother said the prosecution made unfounded allegations to present them as gangsters, while all they did was to peacefully protest against the deaths of soldiers due to the mistreatment in the Azerbaijani army.
Ibrahim Novruzlu, father of Shahin Novruzlu, said the fabrication of the charges against the defendants were obvious in the case."I was just astonished when the document from the Ministry of National Security was read, which claimed that I allegedly attended the interrogations of Shahin during the first days after his arrest. That is, it was the most blatant lie," said Ibrahim Novruzlu .
Bakhshikhanim Abbasova, member of the Majlis party of Musavat, the mother of a former prisoner of conscience Tural Abbasli said she was joining the hunger strike of the parents of NIDA activists. Abbasova said the Azerbaijani government jailed the active emmbers of the youth because it was afraid of them.
Board member of the REAL Movement, Azer Gasimly, said that the Azerbaijani government persecuted NIDA activists for their vision to see Azerbaijan without corruption , embezzlement of national wealth , without any problems in the education system.
"According to the parents, the Azerbaijani government want to scare young people from coming close to the democratic camp and spread fear in the society. "In fact, there is no fear. Fear arises when we are afraid. We must overcome this," said Gasimli.
Gasimli proposed to consolidate the efforts of resisting repression, and create a steering committee for the preparation of the protests in defense of NIDA activists and other political prisoners .
Board member of the NIDA, Ulvi Hasanli, reported about the preparations of NIDA to organize actions of protest in solidarity for their jailed friends. He said the protests will take various forms, including the protests organized through the social networks.
Among the international organizations, Amnesty İnternational has already launched an online campaign to collect signatures for a petition to the Azerbaijani government demanding the release of NIDA activists (TURAN).