BAKU: Human Rights Watch: France Should Urge Azerbaijani President T

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: FRANCE SHOULD URGE AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS

Azeri Report
Oct 23 2014

PARIS. October 23, 2014 (HRW.org): President Francois Hollande of
France should urge President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to free four
human rights defenders jailed unjustly in Azerbaijan, Human Rights
Watch said today. The four are among dozens thrown behind bars in
the government’s escalating crackdown on its critics.

Hollande will meet with Aliyev in Paris on October 27, 2014, for a
summit convened by the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE) on the unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh,
a primarily ethnic Armenian-populated autonomous enclave in Azerbaijan.

“Hollande has a crucial opportunity he should not miss to raise human
rights issues with Azerbaijan’s president,” said Jean-Marie Fardeau,
Paris director at Human Rights Watch. “The charges against these
activists in Azerbaijan are politically motivated, and Hollande’s
voice is badly needed to help secure their freedom.”

The four activists – Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif; Intigam
Aliyev; and Rasul Jafarov – are among the country’s most prominent
human rights defenders.

In an October 17 letter, Human Rights Watch urged Hollande to call
on Aliyev to release the four before his visit to France.

In the past two-and-a-half years the Azerbaijani authorities brought
or threatened blatantly bogus criminal charges against dozens of
independent and opposition political activists, journalists, bloggers,
and human rights defenders, most of whom are now behind bars. Before
their arrest, Leyla Yunus, Jafarov, and Aliyev had been working
together on an annotated list of political prisoners to present to
the Council of Europe and other intergovernmental institutions.

“Even as they risked arrest themselves, these human rights defenders
were working for justice,” Fardeau said. “Hollande should make clear to
Aliyev that Azerbaijan’s relationship with France can’t be business
as usual as long as these four people remain behind bars and the
crackdown against independent voices continues.”

President Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with Leyla
Yunus during their visit to Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, in May. Yunus
is also a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. The European
Parliament included Yunus as one of three shortlisted candidates for
the 2014 Sakharov Prize, which goes to the world’s top human rights
defenders, in recognition of her outstanding activism. Although
the prize was awarded on October 21 to a Congolese doctor, the
European Parliament decided to send a special delegation to Baku with
representatives from all political groups to “meet and to support
Leyla Yunus in her fight for democracy in her country.”

Yunus is the founding director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy
(IPD), an independent group that sought to improve people-to-people
dialogue between people in Azerbaijan and Armenia against the
background of the unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and also
focused on combating corruption, violence against women, and unlawful
evictions. Arif Yunus, a prominent historian, was active in some
of these projects. Both have been charged with economic crimes and
treason, for which they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Intigam Aliyev, a lawyer and head of Legal Education Society, an
independent group, has litigated human rights cases in domestic
courts and represented over 100 victims who filed cases before the
European Court of Human Rights. On August 8, authorities sent him
to pretrial detention on charges of tax evasion, abuse of power,
and illegal business activities.

Jafarov, head of Human Rights Club, a group the authorities
persistently refused to register, had carried out several campaigns
against politically motivated imprisonment, including the Sing for
Democracy campaign (later renamed Art for Democracy) in the period
before the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in May 2012. He was planning
a Sports for Rights campaign in the period before the European Olympic
Games, which Azerbaijan will host in the summer of 2015. Authorities
arrested him on August 2, 2014, and charged him with operating an
illegal enterprise, tax evasion, and abuse of office.

“Azerbaijani officials say that the charges against these four human
rights leaders are not politically motivated, but these claims don’t
stand up to scrutiny,” Fardeau said. “It takes extraordinary courage
to stand up for human rights principles in Azerbaijan, and Hollande
needs to speak out on behalf of these brave human rights defenders.”

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

http://azerireport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4437&Itemid=53

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS