Conference in Baku, 2005
The Azeri authorities must stop its harassment of independent journalists, political activists and human rights defenders. This is the message in a statement signed by activists from established and emerging Human Rights Houses in ten countries, as well as the OSCE, the Swedish Helsinki Committee, and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) that co-hosted a conference 7-10 September 2005 in Baku, Azerbaijan. UN Special Representative for human rights defenders, Hina Jilani (right), also attended.
The Azeri government continues to restrict freedom of speech, press and assembly. It is feared that the situation will worsen in the run-up to the elections in November.
The statement contains recommendations to the Azeri authorities, the media, the international oil companies and to Azeri human rights defenders and their organisations. It was presented at a press conference in Baku on the same day as the Azeri election campaign was launched. Read the statement in the English, Russian or Azeri language (attached).
Broad international support to Azeri defenders
The aim of the international meeting was to focus on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and provide support to Azeri human rights defenders.
- I firmly believe that the strong international presence that these arrangements demonstrated served towards Azeri authorities as a signal of international awareness, solidarity and support to Azeri human rights defenders, says Executive Director of HRH, Maria Dahle (above, right, with Avaz Hasanov, the Director and Editor of the Azeri human rights organisation Society for Humanitarian Research), in an interview.
Learned how to appeal to the UN
UN Special Representative for human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, attended the meeting. This was Jilanis first visit to the troubled Caucasus region. Read more about Jilani's mandate and visit here.
To learn about the UN mechanisms, 28 human rights activists from Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Russian Federation participated in an interactive workshop, lead by the Geneva-based ISHR . Download Jilani's questionnaire (English, French, Spanish or Russian) to learn how to appeal. Left: Immaculada Barcia from ISHR chairing the workshop.
Big, orange demonstrations
Several protesters were beaten up in a rally held 25 September, according to the BBC. On the last day of the gathering in Baku, some of the delgates monitored another huge rally, staged by the opposition, and demanding the retirement of the current President Ilham Aliyev. The rally, reiterating the recent succesful similar protests in Ukraine, was all in orange. For more on this demo, read one of the delegates? account here. Photo: Maria Dahle.
Prevented from attending
Stanislav Dmitrievski of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, a Nizhny-Novgorod- based human rights organisation, had to appear before a regional court and was hence prevented from attending the conference in Baku. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders are seriously concerned about the judicial harassment against Dmitrievsky, which visibly aims at hindering his organisation?s human rights activities. Sign the appeal
On arrival at Baku International Airport, the three delegates Beatrice Nyabuto and Martin Oluoch, both of Kenya, and Joseph Akwenyi Manoba of Uganda, were taken aside and detained for ten hours , with no further explanation. They were released after international pressure from the OSCE and others. Read HRH's protest letter
Human Rights House emerging in Baku
To strengthen human rights work, a group of Azeri human rights NGOs is working to set up a Human Rights House in Baku together with HRH in Oslo.
Representatives from each of the currently eleven established and emerging Human Rights Houses meet annually to enhance co-operation and solidarity between them. This was the first Human Rights House Network meeting to be organised by an emerging House - the Human Rights House of Baku.