November 2 was three months from the date of arrest of the prominent human rights activist, head of Human Rights Club, coordinator of the campaign “Art in the name of democracy.” Through his lawyer, Rasul Jafarov orally answered the questions of the agency Turan, concerning his arrest and the charges against him.
– Three months have passed since the date of your arrest. How do you assess the progress of the investigation and are the charges clear to you? How could you legally assess the alleged criminal code?
– I reject the accusation. This is what I wrote in an open letter to the Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov on 16 October.
Delay in the investigation also causes concern. The investigation of the criminal process is continued from April 22, more than 6 months. I was arrested three months ago and I do not understand why the investigation of my activities is delayed so long.
I believe that the results of the work already done and the planned investigation could be carried out within three months. We have serious and strong evidence of unfounded accusation. For example, represented by the investigation as extraction of “income on a large scale,” the amount is not actually income. These were grants, one-time financial assistance, travel expenses, that is exempt from taxation. For the services in my projects, I did pay taxes and social payments.
– How do you think, what in this case are the true reasons for the arrest?
– The true reasons for my arrest are associated with political motives, and I think it is clear to all. The activities of our organization has always been critical. Not because we only deal with criticism, but also because the human rights situation has worsened. The authority also takes our human rights campaigns and initiatives as a threat, that is why I was arrested.
– Do you have any complaints about the conditions of detention?
– On the conditions of detention and treatment with me I do not have any complaints.
– What steps are you planning to defend your rights? Will you apply to the European Court of Human Rights?
– To the European Court we have already addressed. We also continue to use local ways. In the coming weeks, we are once again planning to apply to the court with a petition for release under house arrest. International human rights organizations, as well as intergovernmental organizations, in which Azerbaijan also participates, continue their efforts and I’m happy with it.
– How do you assess the recent re-establishment of the working group with representatives of the authorities and NGOs? Is it possible to provide for the resolution of the problem of political prisoners in this format?
– Any estimates of the working group are still premature. Their work can be assessed when they manage to secure the release of political prisoners.
– Are the international community’s efforts enough to address the issue of political prisoners and in general the protection of the rights of civil society and NGOs in Azerbaijan?
– You can always increase the efforts and spend more work. Improvement depends on us, and the international community should support this. In my opinion, in the last 10 years in Azerbaijan this process has been going on and I believe that the situation will improve.
* Jafarov was arrested Aug. 2 on charges of illegal business, tax evasion and abuse of office.
He denies the charges. Amnesty International recognizes Jafarov “a prisoner of conscience»