Dinara Yunus’ appeal to international community on her mother’s health condition

image

“Dear human rights defenders, mum’s colleagues and friends,

I have new, horrifying details on my mother’s dramatically worsening health.  

Her blood sugar levels are 240-248 and her blood pressure is 180-100/220 – 130. Recent blood tests are indicating the start of liver decay.

My mum has lost significant amount of weight. Before the arrest, she weighted 61kg, but now, she is only 48kg. My mum, prominent human rights advocate can hardly move. 

As a result of hyperglycemia, hepatitis and overall weak body, she can hardly eat, most of it comes back right out.

It is absolutely clear to me that this is the manner in which, Azerbaijan’s authoritarian regime decided to physically destroy my mother. If this is the current state of my mom, this means the authorities do not even think someone could photograph her in her present state, with missing teeth and fallen hair.

This photograph would have shown what my mum went through while in prison. 

It is with much difficulty that I write these words. I clearly understand what the criminal regime of Azerbaijan is planning to do: completely destroy my mum and most likely it is going to happen during Christmas and New Year Holidays, when everyone will be on vacation, together with their families. 

It would be very convenient for the authorities to bury my mum during this time – by Muslim tradition, my mum’s hopeless, dead body wrapped into a piece of white cloth and covered with earth.

Then no one will see what this criminal regime had done to her. 

It is very horrifying and painful for me to write this. But I think, writing this now, while she is still barely alive, is better. Maybe it is still possible to save her from the plans of the horrid regime.

Azerbaijan is the member of UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, but none of these organizations have clearly protested against horrifying tortures and destruction of human rights defenders in authoritarian Azerbaijan. Of the very same human rights defenders, who, all their lives, demanded compliance of the human rights and law in this dictatorship.

Please help me save my mum’s life!  

Sincerely,

Dinara Yunus”

HRHF protested for freedom of political prisoners in Azerbaijan

image

image

On November 27, Human Rights Houses Network held a picket demanding immediate and unconditional release of Azerbaijani political prisoners near embassy in Ukraine. Protesters also emphasized upcoming birthday of human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Intigam Aliyev.

Two rights activists arrested in Azerbaijan

img1457946

The human rights activist and former lawyer Elchin Namazov has been arrested for 15 days. This administrative punishment was imposed on him on November 25 by the decision of the Khatai District Court of Baku, which found him guilty of not subordinating police. This was announced by his brother Akram Namazov.

665914_3819042482507_1511791517_o

Human rights advocate and board member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Asif Yusifli was kidnapped on November 25. The Narimanov District Court of Baku sentenced him to 4 months arrest by bogus foul charge on November 26. He is being kept at General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Nils Muiznieks: “All of my partners in Azerbaijan are in jail.”

nils-muiznieks_1Comissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muiznieks posted this on his Facebook page:

I recently returned from one of the most difficult missions of my two-and-a-half year tenure as Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. In late October I was in Azerbaijan, the oil-rich country in the South Caucasus, which just finished holding the rotating chairmanship of the 47-member Council of Europe. Most countries chairing the organisation, which prides itself as the continent’s guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, use their time at the helm to tout their democratic credentials. Azerbaijan will go down in history as the country that carried out an unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders during its chairmanship.

All of my partners in Azerbaijan are in jail. It was heart-wrenching to visit Leyla Yunus in pre-trial detention outside of Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Head of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, Leyla is Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights activist and one of three finalists for this year’s prestigious Sakharov award, granted by the European Parliament. I do not know whether it was due to her cataracts or her emotional distress, but she cried throughout our half-hour meeting. The 58-year old also has diabetes, Hepatitis C, and kidney problems. She was in particular anguish for not having had the chance to see Arif, her husband of 26 years, for more than three months. He is also in pre-trial detention, despite having had a stroke just prior to his arrest.

The Yunus couple are among the brave activists in the region that have sought to promote dialogue with their counterparts in Armenia, a country with which Azerbaijan has been at war for the last 25 years over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was violently wrested from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed. Arif and Leyla Yunus have both been charged with the crime of treason. Leyla regularly compiled lists of the country’s political prisoners for submission to international organisations. On October 24, the day I left Azerbaijan, a Baku court prolonged Leyla’s pre-trial detention for another four months.

Another difficult meeting was with Intigam Aliyev, one of Azerbaijan’s most renowned human rights lawyers, who is also in pre-trial detention for allegedly violating the restrictive provisions which make human rights work virtually impossible in the country. Until his arrest three months ago, Intigam was the coordinator of the Council of Europe’s legal training programme in the country. He was also legal counsel for dozens of cases against Azerbaijan before the European Court of Human Rights. When the authorities seized all of his documents, including the case files, he said he felt like the rug had been pulled from under his feet. He did not know how he could continue pushing the cases at the European Court or how he could defend himself. Again, the day I left Azerbaijan, his pre-trial detention was prolonged for another three months. When the judge announced his decision, Intigam nearly fainted.

I had a more upbeat meeting with Anar Mammadli, winner of this year’s Vaclav Havel prize, granted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Anar has already been convicted to a five–and-a-half year prison sentence for violating the country’s cumbersome NGO laws (the formal charges were tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of authority). Anar was appealing his conviction and was in good spirits, despite the scant chances of success of his appeal. As one of the country’s most professional organisers of election monitoring, Anar had been harshly critical of several previous ballots in the country. Anar spends most of his time exercising and reading books on political science, philosophy and history. He wanted to know how from prison he could provide input to the Council of Europe’s efforts to assist Azerbaijan improve the legal framework for NGOs.

I also left heartened by a meeting with Rasul Jafarov, the head of an NGO called the Human Rights Club. Though he had had his pre-trial detention extended for another three months the day before I met him, Rasul was in good spirits. Rasul made a name for himself by organising a campaign called “Sing for Democracy” in the run-up to the holding of the Eurovision Song contest, which Azerbaijan hosted in 2012. He had planned to organise a new campaign called “Sports for Democracy” in the run-up to the holding of the European Games in Azerbaijan in 2015. Though he is charged with violations of the NGO law, as we bid farewell to each other, he related his plans to organise a human rights NGO among detainees.

While most of my partners are in detention, others discontinued their human rights work, left the country over the summer, or went into hiding as the crackdown spread. I visited one of the activists in hiding, Emin Huseynov, head of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, an NGO defending journalists in Azerbaijan’s restrictive media context. Though Emin is only 35 years old, he has very high blood pressure and an old spinal injury caused by an encounter with Azerbaijani police batons at an “unauthorised” demonstration a few years ago. Doctors who have examined him say he will not survive an Azerbaijani prison.

These are just some of the activists and journalists languishing in prison or under pressure in Azerbaijan. They are core partners for the Council of Europe – they have all attended roundtables for human rights defenders organised by my Office or participated in events organised by the Parliamentary Assembly. The Council of Europe’s primary friends and partners in the country have almost all been targeted. While this pains me deeply, it also makes practical cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe extremely difficult. The reprisals must stop. Now.

Emin Milli about on-going repression in Azerbaijan

As the Director of Meydan.tv Emin Milli visited Oslo on 12 November 2014, we met him to briefly discuss the unprecedented repression on-going in Azerbaijan. He is highlighting that Azerbaijani authorities have decided to silence critical voices.

© Human Rights House Network

Demonstrations near embassies of Azerbaijan to demand release of Political Prisoners

Protests against repressive policy of Azerbaijani ruling regime continue in different countries. On November 17th demonstrations asking freedom for political prisoners in Azerbaijan organized near embassies to Brussels, Warsaw and London.

Demonstration in Brussels organized by Friends of the IDF (FIDF) – Central Region, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), Civic Solidarity Platform, Front Line Defenders and others:

10410573_569193663226697_804305730748427272_n

1799205_569183519894378_3209252854868351744_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another protest was organized by Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka near Azerbaijani embassy to Warsaw:

(Photos © Julia Maria Koszewska)

10687865_10152488336896006_2036679308212303061_o 1514952_10152488136021006_3439297932692585401_n 10393894_10152488135971006_2572593429469002145_n B2qMwOHIUAIxWaK 13260_10152488339046006_2274659833629463363_n 10406950_10152488338566006_9039408584574584895_n

 

And the protest with candles according to number of political prisoners was organized by Index on Censorship, Platform London and others near embassy in London:

(Photos © Ramute Remezaite)

10356012_10152847029548648_6468442987252155186_n10486455_10152847029453648_7219823339578966558_n