Peaceful assemblies were regularly dispersed with excessive force by police and those who attempted to take part in peaceful rallies faced harassment, beatings and arrest.
- In March and April, police violently broke up several peaceful protests by youth groups and opposition activists, beating and arresting participants. The youth groups had applied for but had been denied permission to hold a peaceful rally in areas officially designated for demonstrations.
- On 20 October, police dispersed a peaceful rally of approximately 200 people. The protest called for the dissolution of parliament in response to video recordings published online which revealed the extent of political corruption and bribery in parliament. Over 100 people were arrested at the protest and 13 leading activists were jailed for periods ranging from seven to 10 days, on charges of “disobeying police orders” and for attending an “illegal protest”.
- On 17 November Dayanat Babayev, a former prisoner of conscience, was arrested for taking part in a protest in the centre of Baku that called for the President’s resignation and the dissolution of parliament. He was sentenced to seven days of administrative detention for allegedly disobeying police. On 24 November, when his administrative detention expired, new criminal charges of hooliganism were brought against him and he was re-arrested as a suspect in a criminal case. On 26 November, the Nasimi district court released Dayanat Babayev, but the charges against him have not been dropped.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread amid a prevailing climate of impunity.
- On 17 March, activists Jamal Ali and Natig Kamilov alleged that they were beaten and otherwise ill-treated in police custody and later in detention.
- On 6 March, activists Jabbar Savalan, Dayanat Babayev, Majid Marjanli and Abulfaz Gurbanly alleged that they were beaten and otherwise ill-treated in detention, after police broke up another peaceful protest in central Baku and arrested 16 participants.
- Hilal Mamedov, the editor of newspaper Tolyshi sado alleged that he had been tortured while in police custody following his arrest on 21 June. The photo evidence of bruising on his feet and ankles was sent to the Nizami District Prosecutor, who initiated an investigation but there was no outcome published at the end of the year.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Azerbaijan in May and November.
- Azerbaijan: No more running scared (EUR 55/001/2012)
- Azerbaijan: Authorities determined to silence dissent to ensure successful Eurovision (EUR 55/008/2012)
- Azerbaijan: Human rights abuses placed under the e-spotlight (EUR 55/018/2012)