Bakhtiyar Hajiyev meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Azerbaijan in June 2012
|Alma mater||John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University|
|Known for||2011-12 imprisonment|
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev (born c. 1982) is an Azerbaijani activist and blogger who served a prison sentence from 2011 to 2012 on charges of evading military service. His imprisonment was protested by numerous human rights organizations.
Hajiyev graduated from the undergraduate program on applied mathematics of Baku State University, Baku, Azerbaijan, dissatisfied on it he then preferred for his master of science program to enter and graduate from Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan, then John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard for master of art program in 2009. He co-founded "Positive Change" youth movement and run as a candidate for the National Assembly of Azerbaijan in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
He is the founder of AIESEC in Azerbaijan.
Arrest, imprisonment and release
On 4 March 2011, Hajiyev was questioned by police about Facebook activity related to an upcoming anti-government protest, scheduled for 11 March. Later in the day, he was arrested on charges of having disobeyed a police order not to leave the city of Ganja while charges that he had evaded military service were being investigated. On 7 March, Hajiyev passed his lawyer, Elchin Namazov, a letter stating that he had been beaten, tortured, and threatened with sexual abuse while in custody. When Namazov visited Hajiyev on 7 May, the lawyer saw "an open wound on Hajiyev's neck, bruises on his eyes, and a hematoma on the left side of his nose". Namazov filed a complaint with Ganja's prosecutor's office, but authorities reportedly failed to investigate Hajivev's claims of abuse.
On 18 May, the Nizami District Court of Ganja sentenced Hajiyev to two years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld the sentence on 6 December 2011. A government official reported to the court that Hajiyev had been given a negative assessment by prison staff, indicating that he was unrepentant.
International response to imprisonment
Several international human rights organizations objected to Hajiyev's arrest and sentence and called for his release. International organizations, including the ComparativeConstitutions Project, have objected to the legality of imprisonment for defying mandatory conscription laws, given the guaranteed rights of Azerbaijani citizens under their own national constitution. Amnesty International described Hajiyev as "continually harassed solely for peacefully expressing his views", called for an investigation into his allegations of police torture, named him a prisoner of conscience, and called for his immediate release. Human Rights Watch described his arrest and conviction as "examples of the Azerbaijani government's efforts to silence dissent" and called on European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek to press for Hajiyev's immediate release on a 20 May visit to Azerbaijan. Index on Censorship compared Hajiyev's arrest on a charge unrelated to activism to that of Jabbar Savalan--an activist imprisoned on charges of marijuana possession—describing it as "a tactic increasingly employed to silence dissenting voices". Reporters Without Borders also called on the Azerbaijani government "to release Hajiyev immediately and to drop the charges against him".
US Senator Mark Kirk issued a statement calling for Hajiyev's release, saying that the case "typifies the State Department’s alarming assessment of human rights in Azerbaijan". On 12 May, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Azerbaijan's "practice of intimidating, arresting, prosecuting and convicting independent journalists and political activists on various criminal charges", and called for the release of prisoners including Hajiyev.
- Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez (29 April 2011). "Bakhtiyar's Road". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- Ellen Barry (18 May 2011). "Azerbaijan: Court Sentences Activist to Two Years on Draft Evasion Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "Azerbaijan: Activist Sentenced in Political Trial". Human Rights Watch. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "Azerbaijani Activists Under Pressure Ahead Of Protest Day". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 3 July 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "Azerbaijan must halt crackdown on protest organizers". Amnesty International. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "Azerbaijan: Supreme Court Upholds Bakhtiyar Hajiyev Judgement". Index on Censorship. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "Jailed Azerbaijani Activist's Appeal Rejected". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Bakhtiyar Hajiyev". Freedom Now. June 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Aida Sultanova (4 June 2012). "Azerbaijan activist freed ahead of Clinton visit". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez (6 April 2011). "Mandatory Military Service and Broken Promises in Azerbaijan: The Case of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev". ComparativeConstitutions Project. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez (19 January 2012). "Azerbaijan’s Song Contest Victory Puts A President In The Hot Seat". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Blogger Sentenced to Two Years in Prison". Reporters Without Borders. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- Mark Kirk (25 March 2011). "U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Appealed to Hillary Clinton On the Case of Imprisoned Bakhtiyar Hajiyev". Azeri Report. Retrieved 27 December 2011.