The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Georgia: Demonstration in Support of Detained Human Rights Defenders in front of Azerbaijan Embassy

Civil activists held demonstration in support of detained human rights defenders and journalists in Azerbaijan. The demonstrators symbolically gathered in Heydar Aliyev Square and then marched towards the Azerbaijan Embassy in Tbilisi.
tives inquired about organizers and organizations, who participated in the demonstration; they askDuring the demonstration, representative of the Azerbaijan Embassy requested meeting with the demonstration organizer. “We met representative of the Azerbaijan Embassy, whom we handed the appeal statement, where we requested freedom for arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and journalists in order to enable them to freely implement their activities in the country. The Embassy representaed about concrete names of participants but of course we did not tell them names and noted that the demonstration was organized by entire Georgian civil society; I named several organizations who participated in the demonstration. The Embassy representative said the situation in Azerbaijan is not as bad as we presume and there is high level democracy in their country,” Nino Gvedashvili, coordinator of Human Rights House Tbilisi, said.

Demonstration organizers stated that unprecedented persecution measures have been taken against human rights defenders in Azerbaijan for the past few months. Four human rights defenders, actively criticizing the government of Azerbaijan, were arrested for almost equal charges. 

Among arbitrarily detained HRDs are: active supporter of political prisoners Rasul Jafarov, Director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy (IPD) and a member of OMCT General Assembly Ms Leyla Yunus, her husband and Head of the Conflictology Department of IPD Arif Yunus and Head of the Legal Education Society Intigam Aliyev.

The charges against mentioned human rights defenders are similar to the accusations which were brought against Mr. Anar Mammadli, Chairperson of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDSC), and Mr. Bashir Suleymani, Executive Director of EMDSC. Both were sentenced for “tax evasion”, “illegal entrepreneurship”, and “abuse of authority” and high treason. Azerbaijan police searched office of the Institute of Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and documents and equipment were confiscated. Director of IRFS, Mr. Emin Huseinov, to leave to Turkey for medical treatment is under threat of arrest any time. 

Nino Elbakidze, board chairwoman of HRHT: “Human Rights House Tbilisi responds to the ongoing situation in Azerbaijan. A lot of human rights defenders were arrested there. Those people were convicted under different charges, like high treason, illegal entrepreneurship, etc. In reality, they were arrested because of their human rights activities. So, HRHT appeals to the Government of Azerbaijan to immediately release the detainees and stop repressions against them. Azerbaijan chairs Committee of Ministers of the CoE, though it has not hindered the government to continue violation of human rights.”

Aleko Tskitishvili, executive director of Human Rights Center: “It is alarming tendency when government arrests human rights defenders in the country. They already have several prisoners of conscious in Azerbaijan. They are leading human rights defenders and we request the Government of Azerbaijan to immediately release them. At the same time, we believe the Council of Europe shall interfere in this situation and influence the government to release political prisoners because it is shameful for the country, chairing the Committee of Minister and have political prisoners simultaneously.”

Demonstrators call on the Azerbaijan government to stop repressions against civil society members; to immediately release arbitrarily detained human rights defenders without any conditions; to stop an end to the persecution and harassment of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan and ensure implementation of their legitimate activities without any obstacles, threats and repression.

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