Azerbaijani human rights defender, blogger and former political prisoner Mehman Huseynov has been diagnosed with cancer. Nevertheless, he says he has chosen to continue his fight against injustices in Azerbaijan.
Huseynov is currently getting receiving medical treatment in a hospital in Switzerland, where his brother Emin Huseynov, also a journalist and human rights activist from Azerbaijan, resides as a political refugee.
According to Huseynov, had he accepted asylum in Europe, his cancer treatment would have been free of charge. Recently, Huseynov extended a public appeal for financial assistance for the medical care in Switzerland.
“The surgery can be free of charge only if I am a refugee. I immediately refused. I have my own country, Azerbaijan […] I have dedicated part of my life to fighting corrupt officials [in Azerbaijan]. I will not leave the country and be an asylum seeker after going through all those hardships and sufferings,” Huseynov said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Huseynov added that Azerbaijani doctors had not found the tumor despite being examined several times in local clinics in the capital city of Baku. The activist has suffered from the side effects of varicose veins for years.
“After the beating on New Year’s Eve, no hospital [in Baku] accepted me […] because of my political views. That’s why I had to go abroad and get examined in Tbilisi,” he said.
Huseynov was detained and severely beaten in December of last year, although Interior Ministry spokesperson Ehsan Zahidov said his comment had “has nothing to do with reality.”
Such forms of intimidation are common against human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.
Huseynov said that the tumor in his abdomen was found by Georgian doctors, who advised him to have it re-examined in European hospitals.
The blogger later returned to Baku and took part in parliamentarian elections held early February before he departed for Switzerland for treatment.
Accused of slandering the police, Huseynov was sentenced to two years in prison on 3 March 2017. He said his arrest was politically motivated and related to his activities as a video blogger.
A new criminal case was launched against Huseynov on 26 December 2018 when he was behind bards. He was accused of injuring a prison guard, though the blogger said accusations were false.
The blogger went on a hunger strike for more than ten days in protest of the accusations, and enjoyed widespread public support. On 22 January 2019, the criminal case against him was thrown out and he was released.