Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’

Azerbaijan: a Formula for combining sports and repression

April 21, 2015

Lewis Hamilton has just won the Bahrain Grand Prix [which was canceled in 2011 amid violent clashes after an uprising demanding political reforms]. It was the occasion for F1 chief Bernie Eccle­stone to says that the Azerbaijan “Baku European Grand Prix” will make its début in 2016, despite concerns over the country’s human rights record. Earlier this week, the sport’s official website carried a notice stating that “The Formula One Group is committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights in its operations globally.” Asked if the human rights situation in Azerbaijan had been checked out with a view to hosting next year’s race, Ecclestone said “We have” before adding “I think everybody seems to be happy. There doesn’t seem to be any big problem there.”

One wonders where he got this idea as the Human Rights Watch report (and that of other NGOs, such as FIDH/OMCT, see link below) on Azerbaijan for 2015 was damning:

Read the rest of this entry »

China and Azerbaijan: champions in sentencing of human rights defenders

April 19, 2015
China Sentences Journalist To seven Several years In Jail For Leaking Condition Secrets and techniques
I tend not to refer to all cases of human rights defenders detained or sentenced. Sadly there are too many, but also they are often covered by many human rights NGOs and other media. I make an exception for two recent cases which were done by serial offenders China and Azerbaijan:
– A Chinese court sentenced 71-year old journalist, Gao Yu, to 7 years in jail, accusing her of ‘leaking’ an inner Communist Get together document to an overseas site. Many NGOs, human rights defenders and media outlets have condemned the harsh sentence, as well as several States and the EU.

– The other case is Rasul Jafarov, a human rights lawyer In Azerbaijan, who has been an outspoken critic of the government’s crackdown of media freedoms that have resulted in the arrests of prominent journalists in Azerbaijan. Despite protests, on 16 April a Baku court sentenced Jafarov to six and a half years imprisonment. [He actively participated in the ‘Sing for Democracy <https://www.ned.org/30years/rasul-jafarov-azerbaijan/> movement in the build-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in May 2012. He is  the Head of the Human Rights Club <http://www.civicsolidarity.org/member/551/human-rights-club>. For more see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/rasul-jafarov/]

Some of the sources:
http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/asia-pacific/20150417/249444-china-jails-journalist-accused-of-leaking-state-secrets-for-7-years.html#sthash.2E56hdK6.dpuf

http://www.bulletinstandard.org/life-style/china-sentences-journalist-to-seven-several-years-in-jail-for-leaking-condition-secrets-and-techniques-h3441.html

http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2015/150417_02_en.htm

China jails journalist accused of leaking state secrets for 7 years – New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD TV).

https://www.the-newshub.com/international/prominent-humans-rights-defender-sentenced-on-fabricated-charges

Two Giorgis speak about Azerbaijan’s continued refusal to play fair

April 3, 2015

From many sources including this blog [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/azerbaijan/], we know that Azerbaijan is a leader in the category ‘crime does pay’. For a more general article on this topic see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140603192912-22083774–crime-should-not-pay-in-the-area-of-international-human-rights.

During the last 2 days of March 2015 it decided to detain a Georgian trial observer in the airport. As ‘non co-operation’ (to use a euphemism) tends to get underreported – which is exactly why it is so attractive –  here in full the interview which Giorgi Lomsadze of EurasiaNet.org had with the Giorgi Godia, the Human Rights Watch’s South-Caucasus representative who is the one who came to observe the trials of imprisoned human-rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev and rights-activist Rasul Jafarov. [The Azerbaijani government, as yet, has not provided a reason for Gogia’s detention and subsequent deportation back home.] Azerbaijan may be willing to host sports events, but fair play is not part of it.

UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs, Michel Forst, first presentation to Council

March 11, 2015

humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagenIn his report, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, [presented to the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 9 March 2015 and published earlier as A/HRC/28/63] underscores that violations of freedom of expression are a central feature of attacks against human rights defenders.

As well as outlining his recent activities, the report sets out a clear and comprehensive “road map” for the issues the mandate will address during his tenure based on extensive consultations. In this regard, Michel Forst emphasises that he will interpret his mandate as broadly as possible, and identifies nine key themes he will address through his work. On this basis, he calls on all States to, inter alia:

  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at human rights defenders;
  • Repeal laws criminalising the work of human rights defenders;
  • Pay particular attention to defenders “most exposed” to risk;
  • Cooperate with the mandate, including by responding satisfactorily to communications, and extending open invitations for country visits.
  • The Special Rapporteur expresses serious concerns regarding reprisals against defenders engaging with international human rights mechanisms. [E.g. of 34 defenders recently convicted or imprisoned in Azerbaijan as part of a broad campaign to suppress dissenting voices, NGOs such as Article 19 have noted that several have been targeted for their engagement with the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights. Ten NGOs have jointly  called upon the Human Rights Council to address Azerbaijan under Item 4 of the Council’s agenda.]

via UNHRC: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders urges… · Article 19.

Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders award announced

March 7, 2015

Jury announces the Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award

Jury announces the Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award

On Wednesday 4 March the Jury for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk announced the 5 finalists for this year, all of whom are either in jail, in hiding or face the threat of jail because of their peaceful work defending the rights of others:

Juan Carlos Flores Solís Mexico, an environmental rights campaigner, was recently released from prison, but has a charge pending, because he led the opposition of local peasant and indigenous communities to the construction of a gas pipeline on their land near an active volcano.

Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano Ecuador, LGBTI rights activist and the first trans woman to stand for public office in Ecuador is currently living in a safe house following death threats because of her work promoting the rights of the transgender community.

Guo Feixiong a Chinese legal activist, also known has Yang Maodong, has been repeatedly jailed and brutally tortured for challenging corruption, defending the rights of human rights defenders, minority groups and small farmers whose land had been confiscated. He is currently in prison awaiting sentencing.

Rasul Jafarov one of the most prominent HRDs in Azerbaijan, was arrested on bogus charges of “ illegal enterprise, tax evasion, and abuse of official power. A lawyer by profession, Rasul Jafarov is Head of the Human Rights Club and Coordinator of the Art for Democracy campaign, which has launched several campaigns against politically-motivated imprisonment, including the Sing for Democracy campaign which took place in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2012. His is still in detention and his trial is ongoing.

Yara Sallam –  Egypt is a human rights lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).  On 21 June 2014, she was arrested with other protesters during a peaceful demonstration against the controversial “Protest Law”. On 29 October 2014, Yara, and a number of other activists, were convicted on these charges, despite the absence of credible evidence and clear inconsistencies in police reports of the event. She was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment,three years’ police monitoring and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian Pounds (approx. €1,098). This sentence was later reduced on appeal to two years’ imprisonment, two years’ monitoring and no fine.

The winner will be announced at an event in Dublin’s City Hall on 1 May.

via Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk | Front Line.

The new Prague Civil Society Centre explained

February 23, 2015
On 23 February 2015 Radio Prague reported that a new centre designed to promote civic engagement in post-Soviet countries has formally begun operating in Prague. The Prague Civil Society Centre seeks to cultivate values such as openness and human rights in countries such as Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine.  Download MP3  for the full interview by Dominik Jun with Rostislav Valvoda, head of the new centre.

Read the rest of this entry »

Azerbaijani human rights defender Emin Huseynov hides in Swiss Embassy

February 12, 2015

Azerbaijani human rights defender Emin Huseynov is in hiding in the Swiss embassy in Baku since 18 August, 2014 reports the ”Caucasian Knot” referring to the Norwegian Human Rights House Foundation. He went there after the Azerbaijani authorities searched the office of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and confiscated equipment and documents. The office of the organisation remains sealed since 11 August, 2014, and the employees are called to interrogation. According to the article, Florian Irminger, the head of the Geneva office of the HRHF thinks that Switzerland should go on supporting the Azerbaijani human rights defender on humanitarian grounds: ”His stay at the Embassy is justified with the crackdowns level in the country, false charges against human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, and the impossibility to defend oneself in the court because of the lack of judicial system independence in the country and pressure on their lawyers’‘. The Swiss Foreign Ministry confirmed in the “Rundschau” that they had provided the Azerbaijani human rights defender with shelter on humanitarian grounds. ‘‘Since then we’ve been discussing the matter with the Azerbaijani officials in order to find a solution to the situation,” the Swiss Foreign Ministry written response reads. Read the rest of this entry »

Irish Students Meet Human Rights Defenders

December 19, 2014

Not a shocking story but an excellent illustration of ​​how to motivate students through meeting Human Rights Defenders in person:

Thirty three staff and students of the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Tipperary were in Strasbourg last November as guests of the European Parliament’s Human Rights committee. The group spent three days in the French city. They were given a seminar on the European Parliament. However the main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop with Human Rights Defenders from across the world. They met students involved in the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine and a young woman pleading for the lives of her imprisoned parents in Azerbaijan.

However the most heart wrenching and inspiring words came from Dr Denis Mukwege, a doctor from the Congo who has dedicated his life to treating women who are victims of the brutal conflict in the east of his country. Dr Mukwege was in Strasbourg to receive the Sakharov Prize for freedom of speech and the Tipperary students were part of a delegation of young people invited to meet with him and other nominees. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/congolese-gynecologist-wins-europes-sakharov-prize-in-2014/]

He told the group that it was the womens’ courage and stories of recovery that kept him motivated. All present felt honoured to be invited to such a prestigious event and urged everybody to remember those struggling against injustice. For more information on the groups visit: Social Community Studies facebook page at LIT

 

paul.jpg 20141126_EP-012284_MCH_135.jpg​​​​​​​

 

News – LIT-Tipperary-Students-Meet-Human-Rights-Defenders.

Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan, is not deterred

December 11, 2014

In mere 17 seconds Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan’s leading investigative journalist and ardent government critic, shows courage and optimism in spite of her arrest. On 5 December 2014 (a few days before Human Rights Day) the Sabail District Court of Baku sent Ismayilova to two-months of pretrial custody, pending investigation on charges of allegedly driving someone to attempt suicide.

Human Rights Day: exceptional chance to put questions to 3 women human rights defenders

December 9, 2014

To mark Human Rights Day tomorrow, Wednesday 10 December, the Guardian organises a live chat with three women human rights defenders who will answer your questions on their campaigning work and the challenges they face in uncovering abuses. The panel looks most promising:

Read the rest of this entry »