Wafa Mammadova: Why Was Azerbaijan Admitted to Council of Europe?

Baku / 27.04.17 / Turan: "Azerbaijan: repressions against impunity", such was the topic of discussions held on Thursday in Strasbourg at the headquarters of the Council of Europe in parallel with the spring session of the PACE.

Parallel discussions were organized by the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), international organizations in defense of freedom of expression and the press - Article 19 and International Media Support, with the participation and support of former PACE President Anne BRASSEUR and the Vice-Chairman of the Socialist Assembly Group Yves CRUCHTEN.

The reports were delivered by the Executive Director of IRFS Emin Huseynov, the head of Meydan TV Emin Milli and the wife of the leader of the REAL movement Ilgar Mammadov, who has been serving more than 4 years in prison, Wafa Mammadova.

In speeches it was noted that civil society and the media of Azerbaijan face a new wave of repression. The already weak democratic environment deteriorated even more after the adoption of amendments to the Constitution and the appointment of the President's spouse as First Vice President of Azerbaijan. A number of restrictive laws have been adopted, and dozens of critics of the regime are thrown into prisons in order to silence them.

The wife of Ilgar Mammadov noted that, despite the fact that her husband is recognized as a political prisoner by all structures of the Council of Europe - the European Court, PACE, and the Committee of Ministers, he has been imprisoned for 4 years and 3 months.

"The purpose of my visit here is to find out why, while in the cradle of European democracy there is solidarity on this issue, my husband is still in prison," Mammadova said.

She noted that her husband is a Republican. "He led a movement that protests against the concentration of power in Azerbaijan in the hands of one family. In the end, he was arrested. After that, the laws of the country became more and more monarchic," Mammadova continued.

"Those who arrested Ilgar during these four years showed their true goals. And PACE for 4 years failed to show collective will or determination. I want to find out the reasons for this. For these 4 years, people who came to our home were persecuted. Rasul Jafarov spent one and a half years in prison. Natig Jafarli was kept in prison for a month and is still under investigation. Other members of REAL were subjected to administrative arrests. Azer Gasimli is prohibited from leaving the country. Many people who came to visit us were forced to emigrate," Mammadova further noted.

She said that the lawyers of Ilgar Mammadov were also persecuted. Khalid Baghirov was expelled from the Bar Association, and Fuad Agayev was fined.

"But they are very brave people. Despite the wrath of the authorities, they continue to support Ilgar both in public life and defend in the European Court," Mammadova said.

She reported about the conformity of several PACE deputies with the smoothing of the problem of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, including the issue of Ilgar Mammadov. At the same time, Mammadova noted with gratitude the personal efforts for the execution of the ECHR decision in the Mammadov case of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland.

"We got married with Ilgar 16 years ago. The same time Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe. A quarter of this period was spent by me on visiting prisons. But I do not ask myself the question: "Why did you marry a politician?". I have a question for the PACE - "Why was Azerbaijan accepted into the PACE?" - with this rhetorical question Mammadova concluded her speech, thanking the participants of the hearings for their attention.

Ilgar Mammadov was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment in connection with the unrest in the town of Ismayilli in January 2013. In 2014 the ECHR found his arrest illegal and politically motivated and demanded his release. Since 2007, prior to his arrest, Mammadov headed the Baku program of political knowledge of the Council of Europe. -06D--

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