top of page
  • Feminist Peace Collective

Remembering means Resisting! Honoring Bayram (on May 9) against the "flower" and "slave" day of May 10

Author: Lili Nazarov

Today, 3 years have passed since Bayram Mammadov was murdered by the state. Three years have passed since he was discovered dead in the sea in the Kadıköy area of Istanbul. It has been 3 years since turkish authorities refused to release footages from street cameras showing his movements; since azerbaijani officials pressured for Bayram to be buried in Baku on May 9th, 2021. The state bears responsibility for Bayram's death in our eyes. Whether his passing was shrouded in mystery, lacked thorough investigation, occurred amidst psychological turmoil, or was merely accidental, the blame rests with the state. The state that drives individuals to such extremes and upheavals, ultimately disrupting and ending lives. The state wields control over our existence, determining life, death, and freedoms through both overt and covert means of power and violence.

Who is Bayram?

Bayram Mammadov became internationally known for his political action when he and his comrade Giyas Ibrahimov painted the slogans "Fuck the System" and "Happy Slave Day!" on the monument to former president heydar aliyev in Baku, Azerbaijan on the national holiday "Flower Day" during the night of May 9 to 10 in 2016. In Azerbaijani language, swapping two letters from the national holiday "Flower Day" is enough to turn it into the word "Slave Day". They immediately took photos and posted them on the internet. The following day, both disappeared without a trace.

Their loved ones, deeply concerned, reported them missing to the authorities, yet their whereabouts remained unknown. It wasn't until May 12, two days later, that they resurfaced at a police station. However, their return did not bring relief; instead, they faced brutality, humiliation, torture, and constant harassment while in custody. The state falsely accused them of drug trafficking, though in reality, the drugs were planted by corrupt police officers. Their lawyer attested that during their interrogation at the police station, they were solely questioned about the slogans they painted on the monument.

They were threatened with up to twelve years in prison. The actual reason for their arrest was concealed on state television. Instead, they were portrayed as drug offenders. Their lawyer said that there was a possibility of release: if Giyas and Bayram stood in front of the cameras of the state television station and apologized in front of the memorial with a bouquet of flowers, they would be released on the same day. This demand is a bullying tactic to create collective fear, anxiety and resentment among the population and to discourage people from expressing disobedience and protesting.

When they refused to apologize, the police beat both almost to death. Bayram documented the torture in his writing, and his lawyer published the report. In 2016, Bayram and Giyas were sentenced to ten years in prison. Internationally, anarchists organized solidarity actions in many places in response to their arrest. After three years of imprisonment, they were released due to international public protests. Bayram's political attitude and spirit of resistance for an emancipated world has left an impact on social movements in Azerbaijan.

Author: Ulviyya Ali

In his closing statement before the court, Bayram made it clear:

"Imprisonment doesn't instil fear in us. What matters is that we have destroyed the government's idols. After the fall of the current regime, many people will punish these monuments much worse. It is gratifying that May 10 is now celebrated not only as the president's birthday, but also as the day when „happy slave day“ was sprayed on his statue... I don't regret anything. I would do it again if I had the chance. I don't want to be remembered as a person who asked for forgiveness from them in my last words. As you can see, the judge couldn't stand my last words. From here, I also appeal to the youth: Fight for truth, justice and equality!”

Bayram is found dead in Istanbul

Bayram had been residing in Istanbul while pursuing his study preparation for a period of time. However, since May 2nd, 2021, his friends lost contact with him, and his whereabouts remained unknown. Concerned, they contacted the authorities, only to be informed of his tragic demise in the sea. The circumstances surrounding Bayram Mammadov's fall into the sea remained unclear. He was laid to rest in Baku on May 9th, 2021.

We would like to emphasize that Bayram Mammadov was interrogated by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) at the airport immediately upon his arrival in Turkey, without stating any reasons. A few days before Bayram Mammadov's death, another "statue prisoner", Giyas Ibrahimov, was also deported indefinitely from turkey, again without stating any reasons.

Let our collective grief fuel our anger!  

On this day, May 9th, we honor the memory of Bayram. The grief stemming from Bayram's murder at the hands of the azerbaijani state in 2021 fuels our political sentiments and actions, evoking anger and indignation. In light of this, we declare the inception of Bayram's Memorial Day, dedicated to commemorating his legacy.

May 9 is not only the day of Bayram's burial, but also the day of victory over fascism. Yet fascism is still prevelant in Azerbaijan. Recently, the complete destruction of civil society is one of the periodic culminations of the violence of the fascist regime in Azerbaijan. All freedoms have been destroyed and the only possible way to survive is to abject poverty, much like a slave. The hegemonic consent between society and the state also leads to the normalization of these conditions and thus to the suppression of any political voice outside of this consensus. Either you agree with the opinion of the majority, or you are doomed to be destroyed and marginalized by the state-society duo because of your dissent. As evidenced by the fate of our beloved comrade Bayram.

The fascist regime in Azerbaijan has stolen from us all joy, happiness, being Azerbaijani, our wealth, our nature, our dreams, our freedom. At the same time, they began to appropriate our own symbols: they used the anger fist of the oppressed people as a tool for their nationalist masculine "iron fist" fantasies. After everything is taken from us, all we have left is anger. And this fist of anger always crushes the heads of fascists sooner or later.

By joining our fists of anger, we want to ensure that today Bayram is remembered not only in the narrow circle of friends and people around him, but that his political murder as a revolutionary subject becomes the collective memory of each of us. This rage will not let us forget either Bayram or ongoing events. Our collective memory will outlast their hegemony and distorted historiography. We showed solidarity in 2016, and we continue to do so today. Remembering Bayram's murder by the azerbaijani state, we will fight without giving comfort to the azerbaijani state structures that are trying to close this case quickly. As they close, we will open. As they trying let it be forgotten, we will remember. Let our collective grief be the source of our anger as the core of emancipative transformation without capitalism, state and heteropatriarchy. 

We remember Bayram because remembering means resisting!



bottom of page