Azerbaijani activist Bayram Memmedov was found dead in İstanbul yesterday after disappearing for three days, Turkish media reported.
Friends of Memmedov had reported him missing on Tuesday after they were unable to reach him for two days. According to the police Memmedov drowned after he jumped into the sea to retrieve one of his fallen slippers and there was no foul play in his death.
However, his friends and fellow activists are not convinced and demand a thorough investigation into the circumstances behind Memmedov’s death.
Activists started an online campaign with the hashtag “What happened to Bayram” (#BayramaNeOldu), which became one of Turkish Twitter’s top trending topics.
Memmedov was jailed in Azerbaijan in 2016 together with Giyas Ibrahimov after they wrote “Happy Slaves Day” on a statue of Haydar Aliyev, the father of the country’s current president Ilham Aliyev.
According to Azerbaijani journalist and human rights activist Arzu Geybulla, although the two were sentenced to 10 years on drug possession charges, both were recognized as political prisoners. They were released in 2019 with a presidential pardon. Memmedov moved to Turkey after his release.
Known as one of the graffiti prisoners, Bayram Mammadov was found dead in Istanbul on May 4. Bayram was jailed in 2016 on bogus drug possession charges after drawing a graffiti on the statue of former President Heydar Aliyev.
— Arzu Geybulla (@arzugeybulla) May 5, 2021
In February 2020 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the arrest and prosecution on drug charges of Memmedov and Ibrahimov was politically motivated.