Azerbaijani Musicians Detained for Criticizing President

Azerbaijani Musicians Detained for Criticizing President

By Carolyn Abdenour
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAKU, Azerbaijan – On Thursday, 22 March, international rights advocates condemned Azerbaijani authorities for detaining two rock musicians for criticizing President Ilham Aliyev and his deceased mother on Saturday, 17 March, during a concert at an opposition rally in Baku, the country’s capital.  This police action raises doubts about Azerbaijan’s suitability to host the Eurovision Song Contest this May.

Azerbaijan will host fans like these for the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2012. (Photo Courtesy of AFP)

When an unidentified man attacked the band Bulistan after singer Jamal Ali used harsh language, the police arrested 24-year old Ali, bass player Natig Kamilov, and protest planner Etibar Salmanli.   The police detained and supposedly tortured the musicians and Mr. Salmanli, who tried to separate the fighters.

The men were charged with “petty hooliganism.”  A court sentenced Mr. Ali to 10 days of administrative detention, Mr. Kamilov to 6 days, and Mr. Salmanli to 5 days.  The men remained detained in a district police station where the alleged beating occurred rather than a special detention facility.

At their closed hearing, the musicians asserted the police denied them contact with their lawyers and families while in detention.  Yesterday, the appellate court upheld the men’s sentences.

Anar Gasimli, the musician’s attorney, reported that the police beat his clients upon arrest and at the police station.  The authorities also prevented Mr. Gasimli from private and timely consultation with his clients before the hearing.

The judge requested the district prosecutor investigate the torture claims after seeing Mr. Ali’s facial bruises, large bump on his nose, and several scratches on his forehead.  Although Mr. Kamilov stated the police beat him until he became unconscious and witnesses told HRW the police dragged him by his hair, the court denied his request for an investigation.

Mr. Gasimli stated that due to public holidays in Azerbaijan this week, “the prosecutors are not conducting an investigation” of the beatings.

Azerbaijan received the privilege of hosting Eurovision after its singers Ell and Nikki won last year’s contest.  Local campaigners hope the media addresses claims that the oil-rich country violates freedom of speech and civil rights while broadcasting the competition.  The government plans to have the contest highlights its economic growth.  The nation has spent millions of dollars as an investment that the event runs smoothly.

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) and Amnesty International requested the government investigate the brutality allegations.   John Dalhuisenm, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, said, “It’s deeply ironic that only two month before Baku takes the world stage for the Eurovision, Azerbaijani authorities are using force to break up and silence musicians performing at a peaceful protest.”

For further information, please see:

AFP – Rights Groups Slam Azerbaijan Rock Band Arrests – 22 Mar 2012

Belfast Telegraph – Azerbaijan Warms Up For Eurovision By Torturing Musicians – 22 Mar 2012

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – Azerbaijani Court Upholds Jail Sentence For Rock Star – 22 Mar 2012

Alert Net – Azerbaijan: Investigate Alleged Ill-Treatment By Police – 21 Mar 2012


2 Nurses in Uruguay Charged with Killing at least 16 Patients – Attorneys Maintain These Were Mercy Killings

by Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – On March 19, two male nurses in Uruguay were charged with the murders of 16 patients and held without bail after confessing their guilt in front of Judge Rolando Vomero.  The names of the two men have not been released to the press at this time.  Instead they have been simply identified as J.A.A. age 46, and M.P.G. age 39.

Uruguayan Minister of Public Health, Jorge Vengas, reacts during a press conference to news that both nurses have admitted to more killings. (Photo courtesy of San Jose Mercury News)

The two nurses do not appear to have been working together.  J.A.A. worked at the Asociación Española, a private caregiving facility, where he admits to killing 11 patients.  M.P.G. was employed at the Hospital Maciel, where he admitted to causing the deaths of another 5 patients.  A single female nurse was also arraigned with them on charges of covering up their deeds.

The charges against the two men are for the deaths of at least 16 patients at this time.  Reports have surfaced that there are more than that so investigators are currently looking in depth at patient’s records for the two hospitals.  Public news outlets in Uruguay believe that dozens more patients were killed by the men.  At a recent news conference one of the men said he had killed at least 50 patients and the other said he had lost count long ago of how many he had killed.

The hospital’s spokespeople and the health minister of the government are stressing that there is substantial rebuilding now required to instill faith and credibility back in to the health system.  The first step is to establish just how extensive this operation was.

Ines Massiotti, a lawyer for one of the nurses, stressed that both her client and the other nurse acted out of pity due to their extensive years working in the intensive care units and being exposed to death and suffering.

“My client is fully aware of his actions.  He fully confessed in front of the judge [and] prosecutor, and his defense is he did it out of mercy,” said Massiotti.

Attorney Santiago Clavijo echoed a similar statement noting that these were not “vicious” killings but rather done to stop the pain they witnessed the patient’s experiencing.  Prosecutors contest this noting that many of the patients targeted were not terminally ill.  In fact, one of the victims had release papers signed the day before she was killed.

Investigators believe that the two were killing patients in a number of ways, including; overdosing patients with the drug morphine and injecting air bubbles into their blood streams.  Health officials expressed profound concern for the situation and stressed that they would be fully cooperative during the investigation.


For more information, please see;

Latin American Herald Tribune – Nurses Accused of Killing 16 in Uruguay Hospitals – 21 March 2012

CNN – 2 Nurses in Uruguay Charged in Slayings of Patients – 20 March 2012

BBC – Nurses Confess to Killing 16 Patients at Uruguay Hospital – 19 March 2012

CBS – Uruguay Nurses Charged with Murdering 16 with Morphine – 19 March 2012

Daily Mail Reporter – Two Nurses Arrested in Uruguay After Poisoning 200 Hospital Patients in Mercy Killings – 19 March 2012

Colombian Military Kills FARC Guerrillas in Response to Soldier Murders

By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia — 39 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels were killed on Wednesday after Colombian troops launched bombs into their Arauca camp. The bombardment comes five days after FARC guerrillas killed a non-commissioned officer and 10 other soldiers in the northeastern Arauca state. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon described this event on his Twitter account as the biggest blow against the FARC since he first took office in 2010.

Colombia's Commander of the Armed Forces, Alejandro Navas, and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon at the press conference that broke the news that Colombian troops had killed 31 rebels. (Courtesy of Yahoo News).

General Ernesto Maldonado, commander of the Army’s 8th Division, confirmed that five air force planes bombarded the guerrilla’s camp from the air first, and then Colombian troops stormed the camp by foot shortly thereafter. According to Maldonado, the rebels that were killed on Wednesday were not the rebels responsible for Saturday’s killings, but they were part of the same unit as them.

The bombardment against the guerrillas was in response to the murders of a non-commissioned officer and 10 other soldiers on Saturday in the city of Tres Cruces, inside the province of Arauca. The soldiers, who were guarding the oil industry infrastructure, were killed just hours after the FARC’s announcement that they would release hostages in exchange for allowing Women of the World for Peace members to visit rebels detained in the country’s jail.

The family and friends of the soldiers killed on Saturday have publicly criticized Santos’ government, saying their young sons were thrown into dangerous conditions with little preparation. Saturday’s attack by FARC rebels is the deadliest guerrilla attack against the Colombian government forces in many years.

The FARC is believed to currently have hostage at least 10 Colombian soldiers, despite it’s announcement late February that it would officially stop all abductions. President Juan Manuel Santos has announced that he will be willing to negotiate with the FARC only after all their hostages are released, and only after they pledge to stop “terrorist” actions.

The military estimates that approximately 600 to 700 members of the FARC operate in the Arauca area. Arauca has been a hotbed for leftist guerrilla activity recently, mainly because of the presence of foreign oil companies — potential targets for future attacks and extortion deals.

The FARC, which was founded in 1964 as an anti-government group, is Colombia’s largest and most dangerous guerrilla group with an estimated 8,000 members. The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in foreign aid to help combat the FARC’s terrorist acts. The FARC’s power has recently been dwindling, however, thanks in part to military and police who captured and killed it’s leader, Alfonso Cano late last year.


For further information, please see:

CNN – Colombian Troops Kill Dozens of Guerrillas, Defense Minister Says – 21 March 2011

The Wall Street Journal – Colombia Forces Kill 33 FARC Rebels in Arauca – 21 March 2012

Hispanically Speaking News – FARC Guerillas Kill 11 Soldiers at Colombia-Venezuela Border – 18 March 2012

USA Today – Colombian Rebels: Hostages To Be Freed – 18 March 2012

BBC News– Colombian Soldiers Killed in Farc Ambush – 17 March 2012

Sri Lankan Clergy Prays for Dismissal of UN War Crimes Resolution

By Greg Donaldson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

COLUMBO, Sri Lanka – The United Nations Human Rights Council will vote this week on a resolution strongly sponsored by Britain and the United States. The resolution will explore potential war crimes that occurred during a Sri Lankan civil war that ended three years ago.

Hundreds of Buddhist Monks gathered in Colombo to pray, in protest of a current United Nations' resolution (Photo Courtesy of Agence France-Presse)

Citizens of Sri Lanka are upset over the resolution. Many Sri Lankans see the resolution as disruptive of the current peace. Hundreds of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian clergy gathered in Colombo to demonstrate against the UN resolution. The ceremony demonstration included members of each clergy carrying national flags and traditional drummers parading throughout the city.

The clergies also read a statement following the day’s events. The statements said “evil forces both local and international, have joined hands to deprive Sri Lanka of the present environment of peace… and take this blessed island back to an era of darkness.” The statement continued “we therefore pledge with national determination that the Sri Lankan government and people will be able to defeat the resolution and the evil forces behind it.”

It is alleged that both the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were responsible for major war crimes during the country’s civil war. Last year a United Nations appointed panel found that there were “credible allegations” that both sides had committed serious human rights violations.

The Sri Lankan government has rejected the report and instead commissioned its own internal investigation. The Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission found the armed forces had not acted inappropriately. The report was rejected by the U.N. and condemned by several human rights groups.

One of the examples the UN panel found in its investigation was a so-called humanitarian rescue operation carried out by the Sri Lankan army. The operation took place during the final stages of the civil war against the Tamil Tigers. The panel estimated that the operation was responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people.

Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, has pushed hard for the proposed Sri Lankan war crimes resolution. In a statement she explained, “many thousands of Sri Lankans civilians died or suffered other violations in the final weeks of the long-running civil war in 2009. There has been no complete accounting of those deaths or other violations and no pursuit of accountability for them.

The resolution is currently being debated at the United Nation’s convention in Geneva. Both proponents of the resolution and the Sri Lanka government have received strong support from outside parties and countries.

For More Information Please See:

New York Times –U.N. Panel Seeks Vote on Carnage in Sri Lanka – 19 March 2012

Washington Post – Sri Lankan Clergy Pray for Defeat of UN Resolution Urging Investigation of Possible War Abuses – 19 March 2012

The Independent – Sri Lanka Resists UN Resolution Against Alleged War Crimes – 26 February 2012