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Open Letter of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders on the detention of the human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev at Istanbul Airport

We are concerned by the fact that Turkish police detained Intigam Aliyev, Azerbaijani human rights defender, head of Legal Education Society and the member of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders. He was detained by the Turkish police on 6 December 2011, at     approximately 20:30, at Istanbul Airport under circumstances degrading the human dignity. I. Aliyev was on his way back from Vilnius (Lithuania) where he participated at a Parallel Conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On the day of his detention, he was transiting through Istanbul to reach Baku as his final destination. 

After an altercation with a Turkish immigration officer, I. Aliyev was first handcuffed and detained without being informed about the charges held against him. I. Aliyev called HRHF for an immediate assistance. Ozlem Dalkiran from the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly in Istanbul responded immediately to HRHF’s alert and sent the lawyer Halil Kocabas to assist I. Aliyev at the airport. Istanbul Bar Association was and remains actively involved in the case. 

Subsequently, I. Aliyev was informed that he was detained for allegedly insulting an officer at    the passport control counter at the airport and that he would be kept in prison overnight while awaiting for his court hearing set the following day, on 7 December. 

On 7 December, whilst held in custody, I. Aliyev was allegedly beaten and injured, and repeatedly threatened not to speak out. First he was beaten by the airport immigration officer at a “control point” at the airport on 7 December at about 21h. Later, he was beaten by the same person, in a police cabinet, in front of 7 men in police uniforms. One of them told the others: “While beating, try not to leave any traces of strike on his body.” Nobody tried to hinder them from such actions. After he was beaten, Integam Aliyev was brought cuffed to the waiting hall in front of other passengers and was only uncuffed some minutes before the boarding to Baku.

Despite of official appeal of the lawyers of Integam Aliyev, the authorities have not provide documents on the arrest and deportation, did not give the record of video materials from the airport which could identify the persons involved in the beating of the human rights lawyer.

We are surprised that Azerbaijani law-enforcement agencies refused to conduct the forensic examination of Mr. Aliyev.

I. Aliyev was deported on 7 December 2011, and arrived to Baku early in the morning of 8 December 2011. He was told that a criminal case has been raised against him for insulting a police officer but did not receive any written information on that matter.  

 The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders ask:

The Turkish Ministry of Interior to undertake an independent investigation into the case of violence by police and security agents of the state;

The Azerbaijani government to defend the right of Mr Aliyev;

The international community to make an adequate reaction.

Signed by:

Helsinki Association, Armenia
Human Rights Center, Azerbaijan
Media Rights Institute, Azerbaijan
Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, Georgia
Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy, Azerbaijan
Democracy Today, Armenia
Association for the Protection of Women s Rights in Azerbaijan after D. Aliyeva,
Jurists against Torture, Armenia
Article 42 of the Constitution, Georgia
Inclusive Foundation, Georgia
Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor, Armenia
Society for Humanitarian Research, Azerbaijan
Public Movement “Multinational Georgia”
Caucasian Centre for Human Rights & Conflict Studies (Georgian Helsinki Committee)
Public Information and Need of Knowledge, Armenia
Journalists’ Club “Asparez” , Armenia
Human Rights Center (HRIDC), Georgia

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