Novruzali Mammadov was a Talysh national minority activist in Azerbaijan. He worked at the Institute of Linguistics at the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and headed a Talysh cultural centre that closed after his detainment. Mammadov had a PhD in Philology and was an editor of the now-defunct newspaper Voice of the Talysh. He was also internationally recognized as a political prisoner as a result of the violation of his rights to freedom of expression and association.
Mammadov was arrested in 2008 after a newspaper published articles revealing that he had Persian, Kurdish, and Talysh connections. More specifically, he was accused of espionage for Iran. In June 2008, trial in the Grave Crimes Court of Azerbaijan began, without the presence of Mammadov’s lawyers, his family, or the press. Mammadov and Elman Guliyev were found guilty of high treason under Article 274 of the Criminal Code. Mammadov was sentenced to 10 years and Guliyev to 6 years in a maximum security prison.
International organizations such as Washington Profile, UNPO, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have voiced their concerns about the arrest of Mammadov. On June 26, 2008, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg announced, that the Council of Europe “is very dissatisfied” in Mammadov’s verdict. As a result, in February of the following year, the representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Baku Office, the Norwegian embassy, and the CE in Baku visited him in jail. In addition, on April 9, 2009, Estonian MP Andres Herkel, co-rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and Veronica Kotek, a special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Azerbaijan, met with Mammadov. The group stated that they would discuss the case with President Illham Aliev upon their next meeting.
On July 27, 2009 Mammadov was rushed to the hospital at he Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan. However, he was deprived of duly qualified medical aid and was placed in a common ward without elementary sanitary facilities or bed clothes. He was unable to move freely, eat or drink and was suffering from severe pain and shortness of breath, but did not receive medical care. Mammadov died in the Azeri prison hospital from a heart attack on August 17, 2009.
During Mammadov’s imprisonment, his sons, Emil and Kyamran were repeatedly abducted for short periods of time and were psychically assualted. On September 8, 2007 Kyamran Mammadov died of a heart attack. Emil was charged for storing and using drugs until a court ordered his release from prison in 2008, stating that the charges against him were unsubstantial.