BAKU — The wife of a member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) says she has not been able to meet her spouse for more than a month after he was forcibly placed in a psychiatric clinic following his criticism of the country’s leadership.
Aygun Humbatova told RFE/RL that she and her children tried to meet her husband, Aqil Humbatov, on May 5 but the administration of the clinic in Baku refused the request.
“Last time we talked by phone, I felt there was something wrong with him. His voice was strange as if he was very confused and unwell. I am very much concerned about the medicine they force him to get there. He is an absolutely healthy person and now they do not allow me to see him,” Humbatova said.
Humbatova said that she was informed “just recently” that the term of her husband’s forced treatment in the psychiatric clinic was six months.
Humbatov was first detained on March 30, a day after he placed a post on Facebook that criticized the government and President Ilham Aliyev for ignoring the rights of poor children, many of whom need medical treatment.
He was sent to a psychiatric clinic the same day with a diagnosis of “paranoidal personality disorder.”
However, on April 1, a court ruled that Humbatov could not be placed in a clinic against his will and the activist was released.
Humbatov then published new posts on Facebook describing the conditions in the psychiatric clinic as “inhuman” and “horrible.”
On April 2, police detained Humbatov again and a court of appeals in Baku ruled that he must be placed in a psychiatric clinic for treatment.
“It is not fair to punish someone just for saying the truth… Our [eldest] daughter was so hopeful to see her father, but they did not allow her, and she is so desperate to see him. Her father is being ruined there, and his children are here,” Humbatova told RFE/RL, adding that she is now taking care of three children alone, the youngest of whom is a toddler.
Critics of Aliyev’s government say authorities of the oil-rich South Caucasus nation frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing opposition activists, reporters, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates without grounds.
Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.
Humbatov’s lawyer Nemat Karimli told RFE/RL last month that his client was unable to appeal the court’s decision to place him in the psychiatric clinic as the ruling had not been officially delivered to him as of April 22, 20 days after the decision had been announced. Without having received the documents from the court, Karimli was not able to file an appeal.
Humbatov, his wife, and his lawyer insist that he is healthy, both physically and mentally, and that there is no need to keep him in the clinic.
Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.