Posts Tagged ‘European Games’

Human rights defender Emin Huseynov allowed to leave Azerbaijan!

June 15, 2015

One ‘winner’ of the Baku Games is known: Front Line reports that on 13 June 2015, human rights defender Mr Emin Huseynov left Azerbaijan, ending his 10 month-long refuge in the Swiss embassy in Baku. [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/azerbaijani-human-rights-defender-emin-huseynov-hides-in-swiss-embassy/. Read the rest of this entry »

Azerbaijan: the repressive side of the Baku Games – side event 16 June in Geneva

June 13, 2015

In the context of the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council a side event – organized by the Human Rights House Network and several other NGOs – will shine light on the severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms and the imprisonment of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, which risk turning these European Olympics into a sad symbol of repression. Live webcast on: www.peopleinneed.cz and www.azadiq.org 

Speakers:

  • Dinara Yunus
    Daughter of detained human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus
  • Idrak Abbasov
    Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS)
  • Gulnara Akhundova
    International Media Support

Moderation by Florian Irminger Human Rights House Foundation

Remarks:

  • Michel Forst
    Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Maina Kiai (TBC)
    Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of assembly and association
  • David Kaye (TBC)
    Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression

It will taken place on Tuesday, 16 June 2015, 11:00 – 13:00 in Geneva (Switzerland), Palais des Nations, room XVII.

For access and more information contact: Anna Innocenti, International Advocacy Officer, Human Rights House Foundation ( +41 22 332 25 56 )

via: Azerbaijan: the repressive side of the European Olympic Games – Human Rights House Network.

Baku Games starting today with avalanche of human rights criticism

June 12, 2015

It is encouraging to see the range of human rights actors that have taken to using the Baku Games, starting today, as an occasion to draw attention to the human rights record of Azerbaijan. One of the more creative is the FIDH‘s launch of “REAL BAKU 2015,” an online video game, to denounce the arbitrary imprisonment of dozens of human rights defenders:

Read the rest of this entry »

Baku Games defended by ‘NGO Coalition‘ in Azerbaijan

June 6, 2015

typical NGO coalition?
My earlier posts on the Baku Games [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/azerbaijan/] would not be complete without a reference to what is being done by Government (here called “The Civil Society Coalition Support for the Baku 2015 first European Games”) which held a round table on “Double-standard approach of international organizations toward human rights” on June 2015.
Sometimes the best reply is to say nothing and show how the poor response is by voting the piece in full. Note that not a word was uttered about the content of the disputed article. Not even the beginning of a discussion on whether the human rights defenders in question should be in detention. One can only conclude that the facts as put forward by the 3 authors and international human rights organizations are correct:

“Delivering an opening speech at the event, Rufiz Gonagov, the coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition, chairman of the International Relations Research Center, said certain circles, which have an unfriendly attitude toward the relations with Azerbaijan, have already begun to express their concerns over the country as first European Games – the grandeur event of a global scale – is approaching.

Aydin Aliyev, the coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition, editor-in-chief of “Baku-xeber” newspaper, said in his speech that the European Parliament is due to hold hearings on the upcoming European Games and human rights situation on June 10.

“The article, co-written by UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, claims that representatives of international organizations and foreign human rights defenders undergo pressure in Azerbaijan as well. It is a groundless article which indicates double-standard approach of certain circles toward Azerbaijan as it is doing its utmost to hold the major sports event successfully,” Aliyev added.

Rauf Zeyni, the head of National NGOs Forum, said actions of anti-Azerbaijani circles pose a threat to the country’s independence, noting that as the Azerbaijani president stated, Azerbaijan will never give up its independence.

Alimammad Nuriyev, the chairman of the Center for Constitutional Studies, said the circles directed from a single center have already begun to take insidious actions as their attempts fail.

“I don’t remember such a statement was issued when people were shot during the Armenian parliamentary elections on February 19, two were shot dead on the eve of the elections in Georgia in 2011 and even after two Azerbaijanis were taken hostage by Armenians. However, these circles, including these three authors began to issue such a statement on the eve of the European Games,” he noted.

Vugar Rahimzade, the chief editor of “Iki sahil” newspaper, said these circles continue to demonstrate double-standard approach toward the negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s most painful problem.

“Some countries try to secure their own interests in Azerbaijan by putting pressure on the country through the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe. Behind the veil of democracy, people are being killed in the Middle East. We need to adopt a statement against such international organizations to put an end to double standards toward Azerbaijan,” he added.

Politician Elman Nasirov said these circles changed the direction of pressure when they saw that Azerbaijan is fully ready to host the first European Games.

“The article co-written by the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe representatives is aimed against Azerbaijan’s policy. This pressure will continue after European Games,” he noted.

Hikmat Babaoglu, the editor chief of “Yeni Azerbaijan” newspaper, regarded the joint statement of the representatives of the three international organizations as an attempt to unite their pressure due to the increasing power of Azerbaijan.

At the end of the event, a statement was adopted on the behalf of civil society institutions and media outlets.”

APA – Round table ‘Double-standard approach of int’l organizations toward human rights’ held in Baku – PHOTO.

“Some foreign diplomats run sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan” says Government

June 4, 2015

Having just posted about the call by UN and others to free human rights defenders before the start of the Baku Games [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/un-council-of-europe-and-osce-ask-azerbaijan-to-free-human-rights-defenders-ahead-of-2015-baku-games/] , I feel I should also share what was written in response by Sara Rajabova on the site of the government’s news agency AzerNews:

Azerbaijan‘s Foreign Ministry has accused some officials of international organizations of abusing their status to discredit Azerbaijan. Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesperson, said on June 4 that officials of some international organizations abuse their status and act as the elements of a sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan on the eve of the First European Games.

Who is ‘sponsoring’ and with what inducements remains unstated except that they serve “the interests of certain political circles”.

He noted that the first European Games in Baku will serve to the development of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, friendship, partnership and peace, which is topical in the European continent nowadays. All true, but human rights are not topical? Yes, but only when it comes to the “infringed rights of over a million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.”

via Some foreign diplomats run sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan – AzerNews.

UN, Council of Europe and OSCE ask Azerbaijan to free human rights defenders ahead of 2015 Baku Games

June 4, 2015

Every time I now see one of the many flashy television announcements for the Baku Games starting next week, I have to think of the human rights defenders in detention there. So the effortd by many NGOs and experts to link the holding of these Games to Azerbaijan’s terrible human rights record seem to bear fruit. I have written myself several times along these lines [recently: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/azerbaijan-a-formula-for-combining-sports-and-repression/], so I will not repeat all the arguments. Just to note that several heavyweights have added their voices: Read the rest of this entry »

Azerbaijan continues to ‘play the game’

April 28, 2015

Azerbaijan plays the game: Under pressure from a variety of sources to reduce its widespread repression of human rights defenders in the run up to the European Games [see my latest post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/azerbaijan-a-formula-for-combining-sports-and-repression/], the authorities seems to have decided to give in a tiny bit (see two examples below) and continue for the rest with heavy-handed sentencing of human rights defenders:

– On 18 March 2015, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev pardoned 101 prisoners, including Bashir Suleymanli, co-founder of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDSC). Whilst welcoming Suleymanli’s release, on 19 March, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) remains deeply concerned by the ongoing arbitrary detention of other prominent human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, including Anar Mammadli, chairman of the EMDSC, arrested on the same day, who remains currently detained. The EMDSC – which Azeri authorities have always refused to register – has been leading electoral monitoring activities in Azerbaijan since 2008.

–  On 24 April 2015, the head of the United Nation’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), Aisha Shujune Muhammad, announced that her four-member delegation had successfully conducted investigations of Azerbaijani prisons, police stations and investigative isolation units. “The Azerbaijani Government this time enabled unhindered access to places of deprivation of liberty,” said a statement published by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. While welcoming the government’s cooperation, Muhammad added, “[The] State party has yet to guarantee all fundamental legal and procedural safeguards to persons deprived of their liberty, including access to a lawyer, a medical doctor, and to contact his or her family.” [As a state party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, Azerbaijan is obliged to allow independent experts full access to sites of detention, but last September the SPT was forced to suspend its visit after being prevented from inspecting some sites and barred from completing its work at others, “in violation of Azerbaijan’s treaty obligations”]

But then – if you think it finally goes in the right direction – on the 22 April a Court in Baku sentenced human rights defender Mr Intigam Aliyev to seven and a half years imprisonment on trumped-up charges. For more on Intigam Aliyev see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/intigam-aliyev/]. Many NGOs and governments condemned the sentencing including the EU (“The sentence of seven and a half years imprisonment and a further three-year ban on holding public office handed down to prominent human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev by an Azerbaijani Court is a further demonstration of the increasingly difficult  situation faced by human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. This harsh sentence is disproportionate to the alleged offences, while serious shortcomings witnessed by international monitors during the trial raise fundamental questions as to the legality of these procedures.“)

Several important NGOs, including Amnesty International,Human Rights Watch, the Observatory on Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT) and Front Line Defenders, have pointed out that serious rights allegations have been escalating since 2012 as Azerbaijan is gearing up to host the first-ever European Games under the auspices of the Olympic Movement. [Over 6,000 athletes representing 50 countries from 12-28 June 2015; according to the London-based Business News Europe, the games are budgeted at an estimated eight billion dollars, and billed as the “most spectacular show in Azerbaijan’s history.”]

While the government of President Ilham Aliyev hopes to use the games to spotlight his country’s economic development, rights groups are pushing the European Olympic Committees and key National Olympic Committees to instead shift the focus onto human rights abuses and political prisoners. The Sports and Rights Alliance, urged the IOC to use its leverage with Azerbaijan to, among other things, demand the immediate and unconditional release of rights activists like Khajida Ismayilova, Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus, Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Rauf Mirgadirov, Anar Mammadli, Ilgar Mammadov, and Tofig Yagulblu.

Those participating in the European games being funded by the Azerbaijani government have a real obligation to speak out,” Buchanan of Human Rights Watch stressed.

Azerbaijan activist released after almost 10 months’ arbitrary detention – ALIRAN.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/04/u-n-committee-gets-unhindered-access-to-azerbaijans-detention-centres-but-is-it-enough/

https://iwpr.net/global-voices/azerbaijan-convictions-dont-convince

http://www.channel4.com/news/baku-european-games-azerbaijan-aliyev-human-rights-team-gb