AZERBAIJAN BAYRAM & GIYAS
Tortured and jailed for graffiti
Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov dared to criticize the state in the most public way they could. They painted a defiant message on the statue of Azerbaijan’s former president – on the eve of his birthday. The following day – 10 May 2016 – they were arrested and jailed on sham drug charges. Both young men were beaten into confessing to carrying heroin. If convicted, they face up to 12 years in prison.
They protested in the only way they knew how. Fed up with an increasingly authoritarian state, students Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov sprayed an angry message on the statue of Azerbaijan’s former president, whose son currently rules the country.
The message read “Happy slave day”, a play on the slogan “Happy Flower Day” which is celebrated on 10 May, the former president’s birthday. The young men posted a photo of their action on Facebook on 9 May 2016. They were arrested within a few hours and charged with drug possession.
Bayram and Giyas say that the police planted heroin on them. The fact that they were arrested shortly after painting the statue, and that they were only interrogated about the graffiti, exposes the charges for what they are: a complete fabrication.
Both young men were severely beaten and forced to make false confessions. “They took my pants off and threatened to rape me with a baton,” Bayram later wrote from prison. “I had to "confess" and sign a statement drafted by them.”
Bayram and Giyas are locked up awaiting trial. They face up to 12 years in prison – all for a graffiti protest.
Urge Azerbaijan’s President to free Bayram and Giyas now.
Dear President Aliyev,
I call on you to ensure that Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov are immediately and unconditionally released, and that the drug charges against them are dropped.
Bayram and Giyas were tortured into confessing to possession of heroin, which was planted on them – a ruse used by police whose real motives were to punish the students for spraying graffiti on the statue of the former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev.
Bayram and Giyas should not be facing up to 12 years in prison for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Please release them now.