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2016, 24 Oktyabr, Bazar ertəsi, Bakı vaxtı 07:27

According to Forum 18, Azerbaijan's latest prisoners of conscience are five Sunni Muslims jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief.

The five men were arrested in court on 7 October after their sentences were passed and have been transferred to a Baku prison.

Ismayil Mammadov (46-year-old) was jailed for 5 years, 5 months;

Zakariyya Mammadov (45-year-old, Ismayil's brother) jailed for 5 years;

Shahin Hasanov (46-year-old) jailed for 5 years;

Eldeniz Hajiyev (41-year-old) jailed for 4 years, 5 months;

Revan Sabzaliyev (21-year-old) jailed for 1 year, 7 months.

The five men were arrested after an April 2014 armed police raid on Muslims meeting together to study Islam with the aid of texts by theologian Said Nursi. Their lawyers were prevented from attending the final court hearing. One male Shia Muslim and two female Jehovah's Witness prisoners of conscience are still under investigation in the NSM (National Security Ministry) secret police Investigation Prison for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief says Forum 17 report.

Hajiyev and Ismayil Mammadov were convicted under Criminal Code Article 167-2.2.1 and Article 168.2.

Sabzaliyev was convicted under Criminal Code Article 168.2.

Zakariyya Mammadov and Hasanov were convicted under Criminal Code Article 167-2.2.1 and Article 168.1.

Article 168 punishes "Creation of a group carrying out activity under the pretext of spreading a religious faith and carrying out religious activity and by this illegally harming social order, or harming the health of citizens or violating the rights of citizens irrespective of the form of infringement, as well as distracting citizens from performance of duties established by law, as well as leadership of such a group or participation in it" (see Forum 18's April 2012 Azerbaijan religious freedom survey at

Article 167-2.2.1 punishes: "Production, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of import, sale and distribution without appropriate authorisation" when conducted by an "organised group". Punishment is a fine or imprisonment of two to five years (see Forum 18's Azerbaijan religious freedom survey

Among the many other prisoners of conscience are human rights activists Arif and Leyla Yunus, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil, Rasul Jafarov, and many others. According to Amnesty International 2014/2015 report, there are in total 23 prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan.