English PEN is seriously concerned for the well-being of dissident poet Sakit Mirza Zakhidov, following reports that he was taken out of a prison medical centre prematurely, and was assaulted upon his return to Penitentiary #14 in Baku, where he is serving a three-year sentence. English PEN calls for these allegations to be fully and independently investigated.
According to the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS)’ information, Sakit Mirza Zakhidov was receiving treatment for long standing heart disease at the Justice Ministry Penitentiary Services’ Treatment Facility until 18 October 2008, when he was returned to Prison #14 without having finished his treatment. Rena Zahidova, Zakhidov’s wife, reported that he was also beaten in the kidneys and stomach by the management chief and his colleagues. On 27 October, delegates from the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Norwegian, French and US embassies went to the prison where a closed meeting was held with Zakhidov, when, according to reports, Zakhidov reported that although his condition had improved, he remained unwell.
It is said that this assault against Sakit Mirza Zakhidov could be linked to the publication of his poem ‘Ilhamla Ireli’ (Forward with Ilham), written in prison and published in the pro-opposition newspaper Azadlig on the day of Azerbaijan Presidential elections, 15 October 2008.
On 4 October 2006, the poet Sakit Mirza Zakhidov, who also works as a journalist and satirist for the newspaper Azadlyg, was sentenced to three years in prison on drug charges, which are widely considered to be fabricated. Zahidov’s brother, Ganimat Zakhidov, the editor of Azadlyq, is also imprisoned after being sentenced to four-years in prison for ‘hooliganism and intentional inflicting of bodily harm’. Ganimat Zakhidov regarded his conviction as retaliation for his writings, which are critical of President Aliyev and his associates.
English PEN seeks assurances of Sakit Mirza Zakhidov’s well-being, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release if imprisoned in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a state party.
For more on this case go to:
Background on the case from Euraisanet http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav072006.shtml
Committee to Protect Journalists report http://www.cpj.org/elmar/index.html
Please send appeals:
– Expressing serious concern at reports that Sakit Mirza Zakhidov was assaulted when transferred out of medical care facility and urging that this assault is fully and independently investigated;
– Seeking assurances of Sakit Mirza Zakhidov’s well-being, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Azerbaijan is a state party.
– Calling for an end to the imprisonment and harassment of journalists in Azerbaijan in the practice of their right to freedom of expression.
Mr. Ilham Aliyev
President of Azerbaijan
The President Palace
Istiglaliyyat street, 19
Baku city, AZ1066
Republic of Azerbaijan
Fax: 00994 12 492 35 43, 492 06 25
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Minister of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7
Fax: 00994 12 492 45 90
Please also send copies of your appeal to the representative for Azerbaijan in the UK:
HE Mr Rafael Ibrahimov
4 Kensington Court
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/azerbaijanpoetassaultedinprison/