Posts Tagged ‘Baku’

Arsenal and Chelsea are not the only ones strugggling in Azerbaijan on 29 May

May 23, 2019

Baku’s Olympic Stadium is hosting the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea Wednesday 29 May 2019 and is also the venue for four games in next year’s European Championship. I will certinaly watch the match but will keep in mind Amnesty International’s warning that we should not let Azerbaijan hide human rights abuses behind football.  Sports washing is a phenomenon that deserves more attention, see e.g.:

The decision to stage the Europa League final in Baku has drawn criticism from fans and human rights groups.
The decision to stage the Europa League final in Baku has drawn criticism from fans and human rights groups. Photograph: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

We must ensure that Azerbaijan isn’t allowed to sportswash its appalling human rights record as a result of the football fanfare,” Amnesty International’s UK director, Kate Allen, said. “Azerbaijan is in the grip of a sinister human rights crackdown, with journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders being ruthlessly targeted. Unfair trials and smear campaigns remain commonplace.

LGBTI people have been arrested, and even people fleeing the country have been harassed and pressured to return. Fans, players and backroom staff can help prevent Azerbaijan’s likely attempt to sportswash its image by informing themselves about the human rights situation behind the glitzy facade of Wednesday’s match….All too often, governments are using high-profile sporting competitions to distract attention from repressive policies and human rights violations, to instead project an image of openness. This couldn’t be further from the truth with the current administration, and the Arsenal-Chelsea clash is just the latest reminder of this.”

Azerbaijani lawyers and human rights defenders trained to train others

February 25, 2014

Twenty trainers from among Azerbaijani lawyers and human rights defenders have been trained to apply the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Revised European Social Charter (RESC), with a particular focus on anti-discrimination standards, AzerTag state news agency reported. The last of three four-day training sessions for Trainers took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 20-23 February.

Twenty lawyers and human rights defenders were selected for training via competition to share their experiences with colleagues through a series of cascade trainings, which will start in March 2014 and continue even after the joint project of the Council of Europe and European Union is completed. The Justice Academy of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the key local partner in this project.

This activity is one of the most important activities within the capacity building project for lawyers and human rights defenders, and I believe that the advocates and human rights defenders attending this programme have obtained essential benefit from the shared knowledge and they will put this knowledge and information into practice …” said Teymur Malik-Aslanov of the Council of Europe Office in Azerbaijan.

[This activity is a regional project implemented in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.]

via CoE, EU train Azerbaijani lawyers – AzerNews.



Human rights defender Ilham Amiraslanov: early release from prison in Azerbaijan

December 20, 2013

On 9 December 2013, Ihlam Amiraslanov was granted early release from prison after serving two-thirds of his sentence. He had been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of weapons on 12 September 2012 in Sabirabad District Court. Ilham Amiraslanov is an active member of Kura Civil Union and a prominent figure in the movement for justice for the victims of the flooding of the Kura River in May 2010. On 8 June 2012, Ilham Amiraslanov was arrested by police officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On 12 September 2012, he received a two-year prison sentence under the Azerbaijan Criminal Code. This conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal. Ilham Amiraslanov’s trial was marked by serious irregularities, including the refusal by the judge to hear the defense witnesses. Ilham Amiraslanov’s lawyer stated that the charges were politically motivated and that neither the investigation nor the trial were conducted objectively.

For more information on this case, see Ilham Amiraslanov’s page on the Front Line Defenders website.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Azerbaijan: Update – Human rights defender, Mr Ilham Amiraslanov, released from prison | Front Line.

To boycott or not: Rebecca Vincent devotes a post to this issue after seeing the Malmo Eurovision song festival

May 20, 2013

A long and very interesting blog post on Al-Jazeera ( by Rebecca Vincent goes back to Azerbaijan 2012 and reflects on the pros and cons of boycotts as an action to tool for human rights defenders:
“As an estimated 125 million viewers tuned in to watch the grand final of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden, on May 18, I could not help but think how different this year’s Eurovision experience was from last year’s, when the contest was held in Baku, Azerbaijan.   Read the rest of this entry »

Ongoing judicial harassment of human rights defender Bahtyar Mamedov; court hearing today in Azerbaijan

February 14, 2013

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

reports that a new hearing on the case of human rights defender  Bahtyar Mamedov is scheduled to start on 14 February 2013 at the Court of Grave Crimes in Baku. The human rights defender has been detained since 30 December 2011 on charges of “swindle” and “extortion accompanied by violence”. The trial under the charges of swindle has been ongoing since April 2012, despite a reported lack of evidence to support the case.

Bahtyar Mamedov is a defender of property rights and the legal representative of Baku inhabitants whose houses have been demolished. Bahtyar Mamedov subsequently discovered fraud with money due to be paid as compensation, allegedly involving a military unit commander, Shahin Sultanov. Bahtyar Mamedov was then accused himself of an alleged attempt on his part to extort money from Shahin Sultanov, which he strongly denies. During the initial three-month period ordered by the Court of Grave Crimes to investigate the charges of “extortion accompanied by violence”, no evidence was found to support the charges, yet the case was not closed.  The prosecution subsequently opened a second case against Bahtyar Mamedov on charges of fraud. Until 5 November 2012, Shahin Sultanov, the alleged victim of the fraud, had not been questioned by the investigative team and did not respond to the summons to appear before the court. On 15 October 2012, he sent a declaration stating that he did not know Bahtyar Mamedov and that he had lodged a complaint against him according to information received from third persons, and that he has nothing against Bahtyar Mamedov.

Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal and an update on the continued judicial harassment faced by Bahtyar Mamedov on  26 October 2012 <>  and 12 November 2012 <> respectively.

Azerbaijan: Arrest as reprisal for speaking out before the Council of Europe ?

January 26, 2013

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) was informed today by its partners that prominent human rights defenders were arrested in Baku, Azerbaijan, in connection with a protest held on Saturday 26 January 2013:

Hundreds of people have demonstrated in Azerbaijan’s capital to express solidarity with recent protests in the central town of Ismayilli.More than 40 participants to the peaceful protests were detained, including prominent blogger Emin Milli,  Rafto Prize winner 2009 Malahat Nasibova, human rights lawyer Intigam Alieyev, as well as investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.The arrests happen to come two days after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and called upon the authorities to stop attacks and harassment against  human rights defenders. The Azerbaijani human rights defenders present in Strasbourg held a joint press conference in the Council of Europe buildings on Wednesday 23 January 2013.
“By arresting within a crowd of protesters also these prominent human rights defenders, Azerbaijan authorities show that they use detention as a tool to punish critical voices, few days after those critical voices expressed their opinions at the Council of Europe” says HRHF.


Is internet access a human right? Baku again on a tightrope.

November 6, 2012

Radio Netherlands reports today, 6 November, that a three-day UN-sponsored internet talking shop has kicked off in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) brings together 1,500 delegates from around the world to discuss issues such as identity protection online, how content can be controlled and the role of governments in managing the internet. At the same time, Azeri activists and human rights organisations are using  the gathering to draw attention to the lack of freedom in the host country itself. 

Dutch Europarliamentarian Marietje Schaake, who has been awarded the title of ‘Most Wired’ MEP, said at a preparatory event: “An open and free internet is an enormous chance for everyone in the world. “We shouldn’t look at internet freedom in terms of nations, but in terms of values.”


Azeri journalists jailed
Just as they did in May of this year during the Eurovision Song Contest, Azeri activists are seizing on increased international media attention to point out human rights breaches in their home country. In a report issued last week, Human Rights Watch stated that “the government of Azerbaijan has a poor and worsening record on freedom of expression, online and offline”.

Several political activists, human rights defenders and journalists have been jailed, and last week the Azeri parliament adopted amendments increasing fines up to thousands of euros for ‘unsanctioned public gatherings’.  In an open letter to the Azerbaijani government published in British newspaper The Independent, activist Emin Milli says, “you once suggested in a speech that the internet is free in Azerbaijan. I am sure you will repeat this message at this global forum. It is true that people in Azerbaijan are free to use the internet, but it is also a fact that they can be severely punished afterwards for doing so.”

Uncensored internet: a human right? | Radio Netherlands Worldwide.


October 11, 2012

On 8 October a forum of human rights defenders was launched in Baku. The forum was organized by the Legal Education Society, the Azerbaijan Human Rights House and the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders. The two-day forum is financed by the European Commission.
Current state of human rights in Azerbaijan, protection of human rights in the regions, pressures on rights defenders, public campaigns to protect rights defenders’ rights, the political prisoner issue and reporting on human rights issues were included in the agenda of the first day.
Human Rights House project coordinator Catherine Spasova and representatives of the Norwegian embassy informed the participants about international experience in the field of human rights.
The second day of the forum discussed youth and women’s movements, and their role in the protection of human rights.

a short video is on:


While Loreen sang the Government of Azerbaijan upped the pressure on HRDs

June 2, 2012

Maria Dahle is the Executive director of the Human Rights House Foundation in Oslo (<>) and helped to organize the press meeting for Eurovision winner Loreen with HRDs in Baku as I reported earlier. She draws our attention to what was said around the same time by Ali Hasanov, head of the socio-political department of the Presidential Administration, in a speech at a conference, “The role of NGOs in the developments of civil society”. One quote tells it all: “Civil society organizations should mobilize its resistance against such groups. You – civic organizations – have to put your stance against all these. These opposition activists, journalists and media outlets shouldn’t feel dared to go out to the city and they should be felt ashamed. They shouldn’t dare to appear in the public places, streets. Public hatred should be demonstrated against to them.
No further questions your honor!


Loreen’s meeting also on YouTube

May 28, 2012

Swedish Eurovision contestant Loreen at her own initiative visited IRFS offices to meet with IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov, Human Rights Club chairman Rasul Jafarov, and Norwegian Human Rights House foundation co-coordinator Shahla Ismayilova. Her aim was to learn about the state of human rights in Azerbaijan and in particular the Sing for Democracy campaign. The event took place at IRFS with the support of the Swedish Civil Rights Defenders organization and Norwegian Human Rights House foundation. A number of international press representatives attended.

Jafarov guided Loreen through a photo exhibition depicting illegal housing demolitions, and spoke about the general human rights situation in Azerbaijan. The campaign video along with footage from the afternoon’s protest was also shown.

Loreen meets press and HRDs