Posts Tagged ‘Rasul Jafarov’

In Azerbaijan, many releases but not Intigam Aliyev and Ismayilova

March 18, 2016

This blog has had many occasions to be negative about Azerbaijan [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/azerbaijan/], but this time some good news: President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan signed a decree yesterday (17 March 2016) for the Novruz holiday, pardoning 148 prisoners, among them thirteen journalists, human rights defenders and activists. 2014_Azerbaijan_Jaforov

Human rights defender Rasul Jafarov at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku in June 2014.  ©2014 Aziz Karimov

The list includes: human rights campaigner Rasul Jafarov; the head of a local election monitoring group Anar Mammadli; youth activists from NIDA movement Rashad Hasanov, Rashadat Akhundov, Mammad Azizov, and Omar Mammadov; human rights defenders Taleh Khasmamedov and Hilal Mammadov; opposition Musavat party deputy chair Tofig Yagublu; journalists Parviz Hashimli and Yadigar Mammadli; also a blogger Siraj Karimov. Also today, the Baku Appeals Court converted a six-year prison sentence imposed on journalist Rauf Mirgadirov to a five-year suspended term, and released him from the courtroom.

While this is a great moment for those released, among those still behind bars on bogus charges are: political analyst Ilgar Mammadov, in defiance of the European Court of Human Rights decision on his case and the repeated calls by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to free him; human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev; and Azerbaijan’s prominent investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova. Also youth activist Ilkin Rustamzadeh and journalist Seymur Hazi.

We are overjoyed for the journalists, human rights defenders, and activists who were released today after being imprisoned for exercising their basic rights of free speech and free assembly,” said Nenad Pejic, Radio Free Europe editor in chief. “But Khadija should have been among them”. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] In recent correspondence with RFE/RL, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who will represent Ismayilova before the European Court of Human Rights, said that “the case involved a politically motivated prosecution to restrict [Ismayilova’s] freedom of speech… This is about a government that is abusing its power to silence journalists like Khadija, as well as other critics of the ruling regime.

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/17/dispatches-good-news-azerbaijan-change

In Azerbaijan, No Pardon For Ismayilova

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 »

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

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.

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.

UN special rapporteurs join calls on Azerbaijan

August 20, 2014

Yesterday,19 August 2014, three United Nations human rights experts [The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom or opinion and expression, David Kaye] alsoy condemned the growing tendency to prosecute prominent human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, and urged the Government “to show leadership and reverse the trend of repression, criminalization and prosecution of human rights work in the country.” Yesterday I referred to the UN expert group on business and human rights (currently in the country, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/un-expert-group-on-business-and-human-rights-on-timely-visit-to-azerbaijan/) and reports of several major NGOs (see my post of yesterday: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/azerbaijan-a-hot-summer-in-summary/)

The UN experts highlighted the specific cases of Leyla Yunus, director of the Azerbaijani Institute of Peace and Democracy; Arif Yunus, head of Conflict Studies in the Institute of Peace and Democracy; Rasul Jafarov, coordinator of Art of Democracy and head of Human Rights Club; and Intigam Aliyev, chair of Legal Education Society. “Azerbaijan’s recent membership of the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations does not square well with the authorities’ actions directed at stifling freedoms on the ground,” the UN rights experts noted.

UN experts call on the Government of Azerbaijan | Scoop News.

Azerbaijan: a hot summer in summary

August 18, 2014

An array of international human rights organisations have over the last weeks focused on Azerbaijan. These four reports together give a shocking picture of the kind of repression that awaits human rights defenders: Read the rest of this entry »