Anyone living in Azerbaijan will hardly walk away scot free after partaking in political satire. This case has been witnessed in the recent sentencing of 21 year old activist Bayram Mammadov, who will serve a ten year jail term for mocking former president’s lavish expenditures.
Mammadov painted a derisive graffiti on a statue of former president Heydar Aliyev, father to current president, Ilham Aliyev. State authorities then fabricated drug offenses on Mammadov, a tactic they normally employ against youth activists to daunt them while discouraging others from following suit. Police personnel arrested Mammadov and 22 year old Giyas Ibrahimov back in May after CCTV footage showed the two spraying graffiti wording “Happy Slave Day,” a ridicule on the celebrated “Happy Flower Day” that coincides with Heydar Aliyev’s birthday.
Both victims confessed to drug charges after a severe beating from the police. They later retracted the false accusations at the court hearing; but the authorities nonetheless charged them with drug-related offenses without investigations into the allegations.