Update: On March 30, 2019, Bayram Mammadov was sentenced to 30 days in prison just two weeks after his release by presidential pardon on March 17, 2019. He was charged with ‘disobedience to law enforcement,’ but his arrest is seen by his lawyer as a direct response to his outspoken criticism of the government on social media and his pledge to fight for the rights of all Azeri political prisoners. According to Human Rights Watch, “a day before he was rearrested, Mammadov gave an interview to a local online media outlet criticizing the authorities.” During the first four days of his detention, he was denied access to lawyers or his family. During his trial on April 2, 2019, he alleged mistreatment by security forces and had clear bruising on his face.
In 2016, Bayram Mammadov was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison along with fellow activist Giyas Ibrahimov. Both were released almost three years into their sentence on March 17, 2019, ahead of Noruz—Azerbaijan’s New Years celebration. The presidential pardoning of prisoners is common around this time, but generally does not include political prisoners. Both Giyas and Bayram are students and members of NIDA Civic Movement, a pro-democracy youth organization that has been targeted by the government.
On May 9, 2016, the two students painted an anti-government message on the statue of Haydar Aliyev, the former President of Azerbaijan and the father of current president Ilham Aliyev. That same day, they posted the photos of the graffiti on social media. The next day, both were kidnapped and taken to the police station where they were brutally tortured. They were asked to publicly beg forgiveness and to confess to serious drug crimes. After they refused to admit guilt, drugs were planted at their apartments and they were then arrested on fabricated drug charges. In June 2017, Bayram went on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment conditions.
Baku Police Chief Mirgafar Seyidov, who tortured Bayram and Giyas in a police station, was included in list of candidates for targeted sanctions by United States in the framework of Global Magnitsky Act. Amnesty International also highlighted their cases in its campaign for the release of political prisoners.