Violations of rights in Azerbaijan go unpunished - Kozlarich and Kramer

Baku / 05.06.20 / Turan: “The terrible situation with human rights in Russia is given great attention. However, the attention to the corrupt and harsh regime in Azerbaijan is not so great. One of the reasons is the bribing by the Azerbaijani government of politicians and partners in the West,” reads a joint article by former US ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kozlarich and chief researcher at Florida International University, David Kramer, published in the Center for European Policy Analysis.

The authors emphasize that the West, applying sanctions against the "last dictator of Europe" - President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and violators of human rights in Russia, does not apply the same measures against the leadership of Azerbaijan. Western governments welcome the release of political prisoners, but do not indicate to the regime that the initial arrest of these people is unreasonable.  As a result, the regime continues to arrest the trumped-up charges of opposition members, young bloggers, and investigative journalists. They are sent to prisons, police pressure is exerted on their friends and relatives.

After these cases are made public, “pressure” begins (through quiet diplomacy) from abroad and the convicts are released to restore the shaky image. This is welcomed by the embassies of Western countries and some human rights structures.

For example, the US Embassy in April welcomed the decision of the Plenum of the Supreme Court on acquittal of the leader of the REAL party Ilgar Mammadov and human rights activist Rasul Jafarov in pursuance of the ECHR verdict. However, not many were previously arrested by opposition politician Tofig Yagublu. This happened a few days after President Aliyev threatened the opposition. International organizations recognized this case as fabricated and politically motivated. Aliyev today releases several political prisoners, and tomorrow arrests new ones.

The US Embassy and the State Department are aware of this. “Yes, the release of those arrested for political reasons is a good step, but the US government should not “welcome” this. And even more so, when new arrests are carried out, but the embassy and the State Department speak little about such cases,” the authors write further.

In particular, the State Department and the embassy were silent in connection with the imprisonment of the Popular Front Party activist Agyl Humbatov. There was no reaction to the arrest of another member of the PFP, Niyameddin Ahmedov, accused of financing terrorism.

The authors also point to the abuse of power by the pandemic for the arrest of government critics.

Human Rights Watch reported the arrest of at least six activists and opposition journalists for 10-30 days for police submission and violation of the quarantine regime. The arrests were carried out after these people criticized the poor situation in the quarantine centers and the inadequate government response to the public health crisis. Azerbaijan is not the only country that does this.

“The US and its Western partners should call for the release of political prisoners and an end to the arrests of innocent people, and especially in the current pandemic situation. The US Embassy and the State Department should only welcome the Azerbaijani authorities when the regime permanently ceases ill-treatment of its citizens,” said Kozlarich and Kramer. -06D-


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