Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Azerbaijan arrests anti-war figures 

21 September 2023
Clockwise from top left: Amrah Tahmazov, Nurlan Gahramanli, Afiaddin Mammadov, Nemat Abbasov, Emin Ibrahimov. All photos via Facebook.

Azerbaijani authorities have arrested at least five people who spoke out against the war following the beginning of Azerbaijan’s military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh.

On Wednesday and Thursday, three people were arrested after speaking out against the war for posting ‘prohibited’ content on social media. Two of the three have already been sentenced to 30 days of administrative arrest, with the third still due in court.

Another anti-war activist was sentenced to 30 days of administrative arrest on charges of disobeying police.

A fifth, Afiaddin Mammadov, who chairs the Workers’ Table Trade Unions Confederation, has been charged with stabbing a man and faces up to five years in prison. Mammadov has also been a vocal critic of the war.

Azerbaijan has frequently arrested anti-war activists prior to, during, and after military confrontations in recent years.

The first to be convicted for posting ‘prohibited’ content was Emin Ibrahimov, a former Azerbaijani diplomat, according to his lawyer, Agil Layij. 

Azer Gasimli, an independent opposition politician, said Abbasov’s arrest was related to posts on social media against the military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.


‘We have pure people in this country who care about the national interests of Azerbaijan. For them, the independence and sovereignty of Azerbaijan is valuable. However, because they defend these values and openly express their thoughts, the authorities arrest them on false charges. One such person is former diplomat Emin  Ibrahimov’, Gasimli said.

In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Ibrahimov argued that military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh were being carried out in Russia’s interests.

Amrah Tahmazov, a pro-democracy activist who has been an outspoken critic of the war, was also sentenced to 30 days of administrative arrest for posting prohibited content online.

Tahmazov had said the previous day that he had been summoned to the State Security Service. Another anti-war activist, Javid Ahmadov, also reported being summoned to the State Security Service the same day, where he said he was interrogated for around 4 hours before being released.

Tahmazov previously served one month of administrative arrest in May 2023 on charges of disobeying the police. Tahmazov attributed this to his criticism of President Ilham Aliyev and for calling for the release of political prisoners.

Nurlan Gahramanli, a journalist and blogger, was arrested on Thursday and sentenced to 30 days for posting prohibited content online. 

According to local media, four people in civilian clothes came to Gahramanli’s house and violently took him to an unknown direction. After being detained, Gahramanli wrote on Facebook that he was in the the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

On 14 September, Gahramanli told Voice of America that he had been summoned to the State Security Service for writing against a possible new war. He said he was threatened with rape.

Nemet Abbasov, another activist campaigning against the war, was also arrested on Wednesday. He was sentenced by the Narimanov District Court to 30 days of administrative arrest on charges of disobeying the police.

In a post on Facebook on Tuesday, Abbasov criticised the war. He said the only alternative to the ‘separatist regime’ for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh was ‘authoritarianism and dictatorship’.

‘Because this is the government that governs the state of Azerbaijan.’

‘Taking into account the existing conditions and standards, our demand and position should be coexistence in peace, tranquillity, and stable and sustainable security.’

In a post online following his arrest, one of Abbasov’s friends said that ‘although Nemat himself participated in the war in 2020, he is currently speaking out against the war, sharing, and is being punished for that’.

Afiaddin Mammadov, the chair of the Workers’ Table Trade Unions Confederation and another outspoken critic of the war, was arrested on Wednesday near his home. He was later remanded into two months pre-trial arrest.

According to fellow activist Ahmad Mammadli, Mammadov was being framed for stabbing a man near his own home.

‘The plan was made so that when Afiaddin was leaving the building, a person approached him, injured himself with a knife, and threw the knife at Afiaddin. The police immediately arrested Afieddin’, Mammadli said.

Mammadli told OC Media that Mammadov was being changed with hooliganism accompanied by the use of force and faced 2–5 years in prison if convicted. 

‘We say no to the new so-called arrest scenarios. We demand the release of Afieddin Mammadov and other political prisoners’, he said.

This is not the first time Mammadov has been arrested. On 3 August, he was sentenced to 30 days in detention on charges of disobeying police orders.

[Read more: Azerbaijani labour rights activist ‘tortured and detained’]

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
Read in Russian on SOVA.News.