Azerbaijan must stop its suppression of civil society

46 NGOs from 10 Human Rights Houses call upon Azerbaijan to stop the on going suppression of civil society, as Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe ends. The NGOs further call for the immediately and unconditionally release all civil society actors currently detained due to their engagement for human rights and for raising critics against Azerbaijan’s authorities, including and especially human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, and Intigam Aliyev. Anar Mammadli and Bashir Suleymanli must also be released

In their joint letter of 11 November 2014 to President Ilham Aliyev, the NGOs call upon the authorities to put an end to the unprecedented  repression against civil society.

This summer, one after the other, the main leaders of civil society were arrested. Many others decided to flee the country, facing court hearings, of which the outcome is well known in advance. Few others are also hiding in the country.

All the arrested human rights defenders are respected internationally and received various recognitions. Those do not protect them from the repression, just as the worrying health condition of a few does not deserve any special treatment in the eyes of the authorities. We are extremely worried to hear that the heath condition of Leyla Yunus and Intigam Aliyev has greatly deteriorated. We believe that the conditions of their detention have a detrimental effect on their health, as it appears that both are to date still not provided with adequate health care to address their respective illnesses. Intigam Aliyev has recently complained of increasing pain and Leyla Yunus is suffering a severe diabetics.

The rotating chairmanship of the Council of Europe, which Azerbaijan has assumed for six months, is thought as the occasion given to each one of the Council’s 47 members to act as a role model in the implementation of European human rights law. It is a unique chance to prove a country’s commitment to the very spirit of the Council of Europe, its “devotion to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of [Europe’s] peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy” as stated in the Statute of the Council of Europe of 5 May 1949, to which Azerbaijan adhered. Instead, during the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan led an unprecedented repression against civil society

The detention of Intigam Aliyev is a grave sign of non-cooperation with the Court. Intigam Aliyev is a prominent human rights lawyer engaged in the defense of human rights by providing legal defense, initiating strategic litigation, and training lawyers and providing human rights education. The work of Intigam Aliyev is essential in the promotion of human rights and democracy-building in Azerbaijan. He strives for legal protection of victims of human rights violations for more than 15 years and has to date represented them in proceedings before the Court in more than 200 cases (around 40 cases are currently awaiting decision). He has succeeded in a number of cases concerning voting rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial and has served as an trainer in nearly 100 training courses for judges, lawyers, journalists, and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The Committee of Ministers recently requested “detailed information on all criminal charges pending against [Intigam Aliyev],” which is indeed a sign of its dismay over this detention.

Signed by:

Due to the risk of retaliation against Azerbaijani human rights defenders, we decided not to indicate the names of the Azerbaijani NGOs who worked on preparing the present letter. 

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Belarusian Association of Journalists
  • Belarusian Helsinki Committee
  • City Public Association “Centar Supolnaść”
  • Human Rights Centre “Viasna” 

Human Rights House Belgrade (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
  • Lawyers Committee for Human Rights YUCOM
  • Civic Initiatives
  • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
  • Policy Centre

Human Rights House Kiev (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Human Rights Information Centre
  • Center for Civil Liberties
  • Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
  • Social Action Centre
  • Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation

Human Rights House London (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Article 19
  • Index on Censorship
  • Vivarta 

Human Rights House Tbilisi (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Article 42 of the Constitution
  • Caucasian Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Studies
  • Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
  • Human Rights Centre
  • Union Sapari – Family without Violence

Human Rights House Oslo (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Health and Human Rights Info
  • Human Rights House Foundation

Human Rights House Voronezh (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Charitable Foundation
  • Civic Initiatives Development Centre
  • Confederation of Free Labor
  • For Ecological and Social Justice
  • Free University
  • Golos
  • Interregional Trade Union of Literary Men
  • Lawyers for labor rights
  • Memorial
  • Ms. Olga Gnezdilova
  • Soldiers Mothers of Russia
  • Voronezh Journalist Club
  • Voronezh-Chernozemie
  • Youth Human Rights Movement

Human Rights House Zagreb (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • APEO/UPIM Association for Promotion of Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities
  • B.a.B.e.
  • CMS – Centre for Peace Studies
  • Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past
  • GOLJP – Civic Committee for Human Rights
  • Svitanje  – Association for Protection and Promotion of Mental Health

The Rafto House in Bergen, Norway (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Rafto Foundation, Norway

The House of the Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights, Poland (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights



July 27, 2018

Serbian civil society dialogue with Norwegian and Serbian Prime Ministers

At the first stop on an official trip to Serbia, Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg visited Human Rights House Belgrade with her Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic. At the House, the politicians had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with members of Serbian civil society.

July 26, 2018

Адвакат Таццяна Агеева: «BISH – гэта лепшае, што здарылася са мной пасля пазбаўлення ліцэнзіі»

«Каб зразумець важнасць правоў чалавека і міжнародных стандартаў, мне трэба было пазбавіцца ліцэнзіі» – распавядае Таццяна Агеева, выпускніца IV цыкла адукацыйнага праекта BISH.

July 25, 2018

HRHT Concern Letter Regarding the Illegal Restriction of the Freedom of Movement to the Azerbaijani Lawyer

Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organizations sign the letter of concern on behalf of the imposed travel ban over the Azerbaijani human rights lawyer, Emin Aslan.