Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Amnesty International Raises Awareness of Human Rights Violations in Azerbaijan

24 September 2015

Amnesty International published this year two reports deploring the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. These reports witness the mounting persecution of HR defenders and activists in Azerbaijan and the significantly diminished space for civil society, where it could freely discuss, or criticize government policies.

In its report “Guilty of defending rights”, Amnesty International has documented a large number of HR violations, among which: restrictions on NGO registration and funding, prosecution of NGO leaders, arrests of journalists and political opponents, bloggers and online activists.

The report brings to light the cases of 22 prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan, Amnesty International is aware of, including prominent human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev and Khadija Ismayilova, who were put behind bars for peacefully opposing the government and its policies or for helping victims of human rights violations. Many of them are currently in prison or in detention awaiting trial on trumped up and politically motivated charges, ranging from drug use to tax evasion and treason.

The gloomy human rights situation in the country is at striking odds with government’s attempt to market Azerbaijan internationally, notably through glossy advertising campaigns and glitzy sporting or cultural events, as a thriving, modern, free and diverse country. The Amnesty International report “Azerbaijan: The Repression Games”, released on the eve of European Games in Baku, reveals a grim picture behind the country’s image promoted by the government.

While concluding that the current levels of repression of the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly mark the worst record since Azerbaijan’s independence, Amnesty International issues a number of recommendations for the government of Azerbaijan to ensure the human rights in the country, starting with the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.

Amnesty International March 2015 Report – “Guilty of defending rights”

Amnesty International June 2015 Report – “Azerbaijan: The Repression Games”

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