EPDE urges the release Anar Mammadli

The European Platform for  Democratic Elections (EPDE) urges the acquittal and immediate release of its board member Anar Mammadli Chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDSC) and his co-defendant Bashir Suleymanli.

Mammadli was sentenced to five and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion, illegal business activities, and using their office to falsify election results in a Baku court judgment last May, and this week the Court of Appeals is expected to resume on 5 September 2014. Together with Mammadli, EMDSC executive director, Bashir Suleymanli, received a three and-a-half years’ prison term.

EPDE has previously condemned the verdict against the renowned independent election observer Anar Mammadli and his colleagues as purely political, and considers them political prisoners. The convictions were a reaction to the critical statements made by Mammadli as Chairman of the EMDSC in Baku on the Presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2013. At the time, EMDSC monitored elections in Azerbaijan last autumn and exposed widespread irregularities and fraud during balloting and vote counting. The hearing of the appeal takes place during an unprecedented wave of arrests against other outstanding human rights advocates in Azerbaijan.

The hearing of the appeals at the Baku Court of Appeals resumes on 5 September, after the judge in the case, Aflatun Gasimov, on 22 August rejected all petitions made by Mammadli and Suleymanlis legal counsel, including replacing prison by house arrest and a partial re-trial with re-examination of witnesses and of questions over the relevance of penal law according to which they have been sentenced.

Azerbaijan currently holds the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, which is rotating among Council of Europe member states every sixth month. The priorities of the Azerbaijani Chairmanship, according to the Council of Europe’s webpage, are to strengthen the Council’s work on human rights, rule of law and democracy.  Instead, Azerbaijan is the greatest violator of those principles. Anar Mammadli, along with other currently under arrest in Baku, like Leyla Yunus, Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev, frequently informed the Council of Europe about the violations against democratic principles and human rights in Azerbaijan. Instead of supporting human rights, rule of law and democracy, the authorities of Azerbaijan severely punishes those of her citizens who do.

* The EPDE was founded by: Association GOLOS (Russia), Belarusian Helsinki Committee BHC (Belarus), Committee of Voters of Ukraine CVU, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center EMDS (Azerbaijan), European Exchange (Germany), Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor (Armenia), Human Rights Center “Viasna” (Belarus), International Society for Free Elections and Democracy ISFED (Georgia), Norwegian Helsinki Committee NHC, Civil Network OPORA (Ukraine), Promo-Lex Association (Moldova), Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland), Swedish International Liberal Centre SILC (Sweden). -0-

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