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New arrests of Azerbaijani human rights defenders

Last week Intigam Aliyev, a well-known Azerbaijani lawyer and human rights defender, was arrested.

For years, Intigam Aliyev has been representing applicants before the European Court of Human Rights, as part of Legal Education Society’s activities. He has won over 49 cases in the ECtHR. Mr Aliyev has also trained young lawyers and activists on the human rights protection standards. So far no specific charges against the defender have been revealed.

“Intigam Aliyev is a symbol of the independent civic society, an educator of generations of lawyers, a leading lawyer representing applicants before the Strasbourg Court”, says Dr Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President. “It was only a year ago when the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg gave the laudation in honour of Mr Aliyev on his receipt of the Homo Homini award”, adds Dr Bodnar.

Aliyev is the fourth human rights defender arrested in Azerbaijan within the last two weeks. Earlier the authorities had arrested Leyla and Arif Yunus and Rasul Jafarov. The Yunus had been advocating reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, while Mr Jafarov was an initiator and a face of the “Sing for Democracy” campaign held during the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.

“The geopolitical situation of Azerbaijan and its plentiful energy resources substantially hinder the reaction of the West towards the worsening civil society situation in the country. Many European countries are aware of the situation but prefer to remain silent even when Ilham Aliyev is escalating repressions. Politicians prefer to wait for international organisations to act despite knowing that these are not effective by themselves” – reads the article by the HFHR lawyers Adam Bodnar and Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska (the full text of the article “‘Caviar diplomacy’ hides human rights abuses in Azerbaijan” is available here).

Last week, the HFHR organised a protest in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Warsaw to show solidarity with the detained activists. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “its concerns about politically motivated arrests of Azerbaijani civic society campaigners”.

“We call the Azerbaijani authorities to stop repression against civic society activists and opposition politicians and their families, and to respect obligations of Azerbaijan resulting from its membership in the Council of Europe, OSCE and the UN”, reads the announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Polish Ministry has been the first foreign affairs department of an EU Member State that has taken a decisive stance in the case of repression against civic society in Azerbaijan.

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