The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders


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PRESS RELEASE - THE OBSERVATORY

Geneva-Paris, October 16, 2015 – The appeal trial in the case against Ms. Leyla and Mr. Arif Yunus opened before the Baku Grave Crimes Court on October 12. On August 13, both had been convicted to 8.5 and 7 years jail sentences in a trial that grossly disregarded international standards of fair trial and due process. As the appeal trial is unfolding, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH programme) calls for these outrageous sentences to be nullified.
On August 13, 2015 Baku Court on Grave Crimes passed verdict on famous Azerbaijan human rights defender Leyla Yunus and sentenced her to 8 years and 5 months imprisonment; her husband Arif Yunus was sent to prison for 7 years, if nothing will be changed. 
http://humanrightshouse.org

On 1 September, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes convicted Ismayilova on charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of office. Ismayilova was acquitted of the charge of inciting someone to attempt suicide. We consider the charges against Khadija Ismayilova to be politically motivated and connected to her work as an investigative journalist
 
http://humanrightshouse.org

Today, a court in Azerbaijan sentenced Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus to many years in prison. They are long-time civil society actors. Their sentencing today is a symbol of the targeted repression against leading civil society voices in Azerbaijan since the presidential election of October 2013.
 
ombudsman.ge

The Public Defender of Georgia assesses yesterday’s incident as a violation of the right to freedom of assembly. During the incident policemen did not allow participants of a peaceful rally to gather in Heydar Aliyev Park.

Members and partners of the Human Rights House Network and the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders call upon political leaders in Georgia to stop slandering non-governmental organisations with unfounded accusations and suggestions that their work would harm the country. Since October 2013, public verbal attacks against human rights organisations by leading political figures in Georgia have increased. The situation is starting to resemble to an anti-civil society campaign.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee awards The Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award in 2014 to political prisoners in Azerbaijan. They exhibit great courage and make huge efforts in promoting dignity, democratic values and human rights in their home country. Azerbaijan is a European country that is developing towards dictatorship, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), Bjørn Engesland, in today’s press release. This award is given to all of the political prisoners. It is a sad fact that they are too numerous to all be mentioned here.
On August 12, at 12:00 the Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT) and its member organizations will hold a joint press conference regarding the mass arrests of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan at the conference hall of the HRHT. 
AZERBAIJAN: Increasing repression against civil society severely tarnishes Azerbaijan's Presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.
In March 2013, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. It establishes principles and standards for States to create an enabling environment for human rights defenders. One year after its adoption, the Human Rights House Network calls upon States to implement this resolution.
52 human rights organisations from 14 countries sent a joint letter of concern to the Azerbaijani authorities today, condemning the demolishing of the property of the human rights defender Leyla Yunus, which was a home for three human rights organizations in the centre of Baku.


Members of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders condemn theviolent crackdown on the opposition manifestation in Tbilisi on the night from 25thto 26th of May 2011 and call upon the Georgian authorities to investigate theincident.See in PDF

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Norwegian  Helsinki Committee (NHC) condemn the excessive use of force by the police against peaceful anti-government protest in Tbilisi on the night of 26 May 2011. Our organisations are concerned that this is yet another example of the lack of respect of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly by the Georgian authorities. Previous peaceful protests held on 3 January and 25 March 2011were also violently dispersed by police.  See Futher
The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders condemns the recent interrogation of human rights defenders and last week arrests of youth activists and bloggers in Azerbaijan. We call upon the authorities to stop the repression of the civil society, and immediately release the five detained youth activists. We also urge the Azerbaijani authorities to respect freedom of expression and assembly of the people in Azerbaijan. We see the recent escalation of pressure by the Azerbaijani authorities as a reaction to the calls for pro-democracy protests in the country, inspired by the events in the Middle East and North Africa.

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