The call for sanctions, international reports...

On April 22, the U.S. State Department unveiled its 2023 report on global human rights, casting a stark light on Azerbaijan, especially concerning events in Karabakh. The report details a military operation on September 19-20, which precipitated a mass exodus of the Armenian population from the region. Highlighting not just this displacement, the document points to systematic issues such as maltreatment of detainees, severe curbs on freedom of expression and media, and the stifling of democratic change through rigged elections. Most alarmingly, the report underscores a lack of accountability for these actions, noting that no effective measures have been taken to punish those responsible for these and earlier alleged violations in 2020 and 2022.

Parallel to the U.S. State Department’s findings, Amnesty International released its 2024 report on the state of human rights globally, which echoes many of the same concerns regarding Azerbaijan. It details the suppression of free speech, the quashing of protests, assaults on independent media, and the detention of journalists and activists. This report also emphasizes the increasing risks faced by critics of the government, including violence, harassment, and unlawful arrests.

In response to these concerning revelations, a group of U.S. congressmen has announced plans to introduce sanctions against Azerbaijan. This legislative move signals a growing international frustration with Azerbaijan's disregard for basic human rights and democratic norms.

Fuad Hasanov, a prominent human rights defender in Azerbaijan, provided a local perspective in a recent interview on the program "Difficult Question." Hasanov defends the accuracy of both the U.S. and Amnesty International reports, arguing that Azerbaijan has indeed cultivated a stable anti-democratic reputation. He cites an increase in political prisoners, imprisoned journalists, and persecuted believers, estimating their numbers are nearing 300.

Hasanov further criticizes the Azerbaijani authorities for ignoring calls from international bodies and foreign leaders to halt the persecution of political opponents on fabricated charges such as drug possession, smuggling, and hooliganism. He vehemently refutes claims of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijani forces in Karabakh, suggesting that these allegations are bolstered by external influences, particularly the Armenian diaspora, and based more on speculation than on fact.


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