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Azerbaijan

    November 07, 2017

    Mehman Huseynov is a blogger, journalist and activist in Azerbaijan. He has used social media to make public some dishonest activities of officials. Media around the world have used his photos of peaceful protests being violently broken up in Baku, the capital city. Mehman has two brothers, Ibrahim and Emin who is also a famous human rights defender.

     

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    This is Mehman Huseynov. He is supposed to be in prison until March 3, 2019. Amnesty International wants your help to free him now. Here’s why.

    A few years ago, Mehman got angry when he noticed government officials doing dishonest things. He also learned that some officials were not respecting people’s human rights. He decided to use photos and videos on social media to make the public aware of those injustices. That made the officials angry with him.

    March 10, 2017

    Azeri human rights activists, journalists and political dissidents have been the targets of a fraudulent and sustained ‘spear phishing’ campaign using emails and Facebook chat, apparently aimed at gaining access to their personal information and private communications, said Amnesty International in a new report launched today.

    The investigation reveals that the attacks, which can compromise passwords and contacts, have been directed at various government critics for the past 13 months. Victims told Amnesty International they believed the Azerbaijani authorities are behind the attacks.

    “Our research reveals that a targeted and coordinated cyber campaign is being waged against critical voices in Azerbaijan, many of whom are long-time victims of government repression,” said Claudio Guarnieri, Senior Technologist at Amnesty International.

    “The malware used has been designed with the express intention of gathering as much private information as possible about a target. Given the profiles of those targeted, it is not hard to see why victims believe the authorities are responsible.”

    December 08, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed by the Baku Court of Grave Crimes in Azerbaijan to Bayram Mammadov, a youth activist who has been detained since May 2016 after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shameless attempt by the Azerbaijani authorities to crush dissent out of existence, Amnesty International said today.

    “Bayram Mammadov was arrested for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The charges against him were clearly fabricated with the sole purpose of punishing him for his activism. This outrageously long sentence following already prolonged, unnecessary and arbitrary detention is a blow to all peaceful activists in Azerbaijan,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    October 26, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed to Giyas Ibrahimov, a 22-year-old youth activist detained after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shocking assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Giyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute travesty of justice. He was arrested simply for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The authorities now want him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on these fabricated charges,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It is deeply disturbing to see the lengths to which Azerbaijani authorities will go to silence their critics. We are calling on them to quash this sentence based on trumped-up charges and immediately release Giyas Ibrahimov, and to carry out an independent investigation into the torture and other ill-treatment he has been subjected to.”

    June 16, 2016

    The international community must not be duped by surface-level efforts to smooth out Azerbaijan’s human rights record, which remains dire, said Amnesty International in a report published today, ahead of this week’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe race in Baku.

    “The arrival of the world’s premier racing series in Baku must not steer attention away from the government onslaught on civil society,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Behind the glitz lies an everyday reality in which authorities have shut down NGOs and arrested or harassed their leaders.”

    Since the beginning of 2016, faced with falling oil revenues and rising international pressure, the Azerbaijani authorities have released several dozen prisoners. Among those released are twelve prisoners of conscience, including award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

    May 26, 2016
    Journalist Khadija freed in Azerbaijan, after being blackmailed and unjustly imprisoned by her government

    After a year and a half behind bars for her investigative journalism, Khadija Ismayilova was released on bail when Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court ordered her release today.

    May 25, 2016

    The release of Khadija Ismayilova by Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court is a welcome step but she will not have obtained justice until her conviction is quashed, said Amnesty International.

    Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment at a trial in September 2015 under trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.
    The Supreme Court today reduced her sentence to a suspended term of three and a half years, after it reversed two of the initial four charges against her.

    “Khadija Ismayilova must be fully acquitted if she is ever to obtain justice for her wrongful imprisonment,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Numerous other prisoners of conscience are still in jail for exercising their right to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and must also be freed to break this dangerous pattern of fear and repression.”

    March 28, 2016

    The Azerbaijani authorities today released prominent human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev in what Amnesty International billed an overdue step towards righting the injustice against him and all remaining prisoners of conscience.

    Intigam Aliyev, head of the NGO Legal Education Society and a vocal government critic, was arrested in August 2014. In April 2015 he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on trumped-up charges of tax avoidance, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power, amid a crackdown on dissident voices in Azerbaijan. Authorities also raided and closed his NGO that helped victims of politically motivated persecution and represented them at the European Court of Human Rights.

    “Prisoner of conscience Intigam Aliyev has paid dearly for his frontline human rights work – the only ‘crime’ he committed was to defend his fellow citizens’ freedoms,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    March 17, 2016

    Azerbaijan’s embattled civil society received a rare glimmer of hope today as President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree ordering the release of 148 prisoners, including 10 prisoners of conscience, said Amnesty International.

    The move came just hours after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Azerbaijan’s detention of one of those released – human rights defender Rasul Jafarov – violated international law.

    “The release of 10 prisoners of conscience is always good news, but celebrations should be muted by the fact that at least eight still remain behind bars. While this is a welcome development, praise for the Azerbaijani authorities should be reserved for when all those unjustly imprisoned are released and the squeeze on civil society ends,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    December 09, 2015

    Today’s conditional release of Leyla Yunus, one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders, should be followed by immediately and unconditionally setting all prisoners of conscience free, Amnesty International said.  

    “This is a step in the right direction that will send a crucial message of hope on the eve of International Human Rights Day. It should open the door to unconditional freedom, not just for Leyla Yunus, but all prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Azerbaijani authorities must now quash all charges against Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif and remove any conditions attached to her release.”

    Leyla and Arif Yunus were convicted on 13 August 2015 for “fraud” and other purported crimes related to their NGO work. They faced prison sentences of eight and seven-and-a-half years, respectively. Arif Yunus was released on medical grounds on 12 November.

    October 30, 2015

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    Azerbaijan’s dire human rights record is rapidly deteriorating as people prepare to head to the polls on Sunday 1 November amid a backdrop of crackdowns on freedom of expression and the right to assembly, said Amnesty International today.

    “Azerbaijani authorities must uphold their human rights obligations and immediately release all prisoners of conscience, as well as stop persecuting civil society activists, including human rights defenders,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    At least 20 people are currently imprisoned in the country merely for having challenged the government’s policies or having attempted to help victims of human rights abuses. Most of the country’s independent human rights organizations – around 20 – have been shut down, with their most prominent leaders arrested or forced into exile.

    October 07, 2015

    Freedom of expression is under sustained and severe attack in Azerbaijan in the run up to next month’s parliamentary elections, Amnesty International said today after two of its staff were stopped at the border and deported. 

    Immigration officials retained the passports of two Amnesty International delegates, both Georgian nationals, after they flew into the capital Baku on Wednesday morning and deported them hours later. Amnesty International had informed the authorities well in advance of their upcoming visit but never received a reply. 

    “There is simply no real chance of people being able to take part meaningfully in elections while the human rights crackdown continues and Azerbaijan’s few independent voices are being silenced,” John Dalhusien, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia said.

    “What other dark secrets are the Azerbaijani authorities trying to conceal from the outside world before the parliamentary election?”

    September 01, 2015

    Azerbaijan’s jailing of an award winning journalist barely two weeks after two prominent human rights activists received jail sentences is another severe attack on free speech, Amnesty International said today.

    Investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who works for Radio Free Europe, was jailed at a closed session trial in Baku for seven and a half years under trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.

    “This was yet another unfair trial relying on fabricated charges. The government has stepped up its brutal crackdown on political activists, journalists, human rights defenders - indeed anyone who dares to publicly raise a critical voice,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
     
    “By adopting draconian laws and aggressively applying them the Azerbaijani authorities have effectively criminalised free speech and the freedom of association. They are simply abusing the criminal justice system to persecute dissenters.“

    August 13, 2015

    The eight-and-a-half and seven year sentences respectively handed down today to human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus show the continuous criminalization of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, Amnesty International said.

    Both were convicted for “fraud” and other crimes related to their NGO work at a trial in the capital Baku. International observers and journalists were refused entry to the court and only a handful of diplomats were allowed to attend.

    A charge of treason, purportedly spying for Armenia, is also pending against the couple, but it has been sent to a separate court for consideration.

    August 10, 2015

    A promise today from Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev to “personally oversee” the investigation into the beating to death of journalist Rasim Aliyev [no relation to the President] is unlikely to result in real justice, Amnesty International said.

    “For too long, Azerbaijan’s journalists have been subjected to persecution and horrific attacks such as this one. Their killings frequently go without the culprits being prosecuted and brought to justice, despite the cynical assurances of impartial investigations,” said Natalia Nozadze, Azerbaijan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    In 2005 the president also promised to “personally oversee” the investigation into the killing of journalist Elmar Huseynov, but the case remains unsolved. 

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