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AUGUST 24, 2018

Azerbaijan Convicts One of Our Brothers for Refusing to Participate in Military Service

On July 6, 2018, the Barda District Court of Azerbaijan ordered a one-year conditional sentence for one of our brothers, Emil Mehdiyev. The court found 18-year-old Emil guilty of evading military service, but did not impose a prison sentence. However, he cannot change his permanent address without notifying the authorities, and he is not allowed to leave Azerbaijan.

In December 2017, Brother Mehdiyev reported to the Barda District Department of the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription. He refused to sign the draft notice, as his conscience would not permit him to perform military service. In response to a summons, he returned to explain his conscientious stand and requested alternative civilian service in lieu of military service. He was told that this option was not available and that his case would be sent to the Barda District prosecutor’s office.

After numerous hearings and adjournments, the Barda District Court convicted him and ordered the conditional arrangement. Although the court did not sentence Emil to prison, he has no other recourse but to be viewed as a criminal because the government of Azerbaijan has still not instituted an alternative civilian service program, as it has long promised to do.

We are happy that Brother Mehdiyev is maintaining his neutral stand in the face of this difficult situation.—1 Peter 2:19.