Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe, and therefore bound by the European Convention on Human Rights. In May 2014, Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of the organization. However, despite this, the Azerbaijani authorities have recently unleashed an unprecedented wave of repression, targeting opposition politicians, journalists, civil society representatives, and human rights defenders.
Today, human rights activists such as Leyla Yunus, Rasul Jafarov and Intiqam Aliyev stand for the many who are defending basic human rights and European values in Azerbaijan and who are subject to repression and imprisonment for doing so.
By awarding them the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize in 2014 the European Parliament would send a strong signal to a region vital to Europe, at a moment when courageous human rights defenders are needed more than ever.
How the Sakharov Prize 2014 is awarded?
In the next 10 days, the nominations of the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights will be decided by the European Parliament. The prize is awarded to “honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.”
Previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Reporters without Borders and Anatoli Marchenko. If you believe that Azerbaijani human rights defenders – who are now in jail following years of work on behalf of the rights of others, and most recently on a list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan (on which they are now included) – then let the MEPs who vote on this know.
Nominations for the Sakharov Prize can be made by:
-Political groups in the European Parliament.
-At least 40 MEPs.
The deadline for nominations is Monday 18 September at 12:00 in Strasbourg.
How to support these three?
Gerald Knaus from European Stability Initiative (ESI) writes, “This is hard work, lots of letters and emails and phone calls and meetings yet to be held. And arguments to make why Azerbaijani human rights defenders today deserve this more than other very worthy causes. But it can be done and they deserve it! Anyone who wants to send personal emails explaining why this would be a good idea please do so: MEPs need to get a sense that this is important, crucial even, at this very moment. Each email should ask whether the MEP is willing to support these three for the prize (as a group, representing the courageous human rights community in the country now under siege). If any MEP writes back and say yes, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Please don’t forget to mention ongoing crackdown and repressions againist civil society in Azerbaijan.