Azerbaijan authorities arrest prominent human rights defenders

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) was informed today by its partners that prominent human rights defenders were arrested in Baku, Azerbaijan, in connection with a protest held on Saturday 26 January 2013.

Latest update of this article: 26.01.2013, 14:44 CET. This article will be updated regurlarly.

Hundreds of people have demonstrated in Azerbaijan’s capital to express solidarity with recent protests in the central town of Ismayilli.

More than 40 participants to the peaceful protests were detained, including prominent blogger Emin Milli, human rights defenders and Rafto Price laureate of 2009 Malahat Nasibova, human rights lawyer Intigam Alieyev, as well as investigative journalist and Fritt Ord Foundation / ZEIT Foundation award winner of 2012 Khadija Ismayilova.

The arrests happen two days after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and call upon the authorities to stop attacks and harassment against  human rights defenders. The Azerbaijani human rights defenders present in Strasbourg held joint press conference in the Council of Europe buildings on Wednesday 23 January 2013.

Ane Tusvik Bonde, HRHF’s Regional Manager for Eastern Europe, says HRHF is extremely concerned that the arrests take place just few days after several humen rights defenders, including Malahat Nasibpova, returned from Strasbourg where she took part in a delegation of international and national human rights organizations.

By arresting within a crowd of protesters also these prominent human rights defenders, Azerbaijan authorities show that they use detention as a tool to punish critical voices, few days after those critical voices expressed their opinions at the Council of Europe.

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) vigorously condemns the arrest of all participants to the peaceful protest, including the prominent human rights defenders few days after the resolution was adopted by the Council of Europe.

HRHF calls upon the immediate and unconditional release of all protestors and human rights defenders arrested on Saturday 26 January 2013 and calls upon the international community to request from Azerbaijani authorities to stop punishing critical voices, including human rights defenders.

Arrest of Intigam Alievey and Malahat Nasibova on Saturday 26 January 2013. (© IRFS, 2013)

Malahat Nasibova was part of the delegation of Azerbaijani human rights defenders present in Strasbourg at the PACE session. She has greatly contributed to the advocacy, especially by underlining human rights violations in the Autonomous Region Nakhchivan.

Khadija Ismayilova has covered the information about the advocacy trip, including by airing an interview with Florian Irminger, HRHF’s Head of Advocacy and Geneva Office.

Intigam Alieyev’s NGO, the Legal Education Society, a partner NGO of the Azerbaijan Human Rights House, was an important part in drafting the advocacy documents used by the human rights defenders during their stay in Strasbourg.

Emin Milli has widely published the information about the PACE session, including on Twitter and on his Facebook page.

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