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Archive for the ‘Azerbaijan’ Category

Amnesty Report Notes Worldwide Abuses

Posted by Info on 23/05/2013

The findings were published on May 23 in Amnesty International’s annual report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” for 2012 and documents abuses in 159 countries and territories.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty: “Governments have been created to protect the rights of their citizens, but we then have governments who are actually doing exactly the opposite, who are actually violating the rights of their own citizens and people who are living inside their boundaries. So I think in this day and age the excuse of national sovereignty, that these are internal affairs, is simply not acceptable.”

The researchers say that there has been a suppression of freedom of expression to varying degrees in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Kazakh authorities used “excessive force” to break up strikes and public protests by oil and gas workers in southwestern Kazakhstan from May through the end of 2012. Hundreds of employees were dismissed, dozens of protesters, trade unionists, and opposition activists were detained, and at least 16 people were killed during clashes between protesters and police in December 2011. The report also says refugees were forcibly returned to China and Uzbekistan, despite international protests.

Torture and ill-treatment remains widespread in Tajikistan while impunity for perpetrators continued. The assessment says independent monitoring bodies were given “no access to detention facilities.” It notes that children, elderly people, and witnesses in criminal cases endured torture that included “the use of electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings and burnings with cigarettes.”

Uzbekistan has restricted the freedom of expression because human rights campaigners and journalists are continually harassed. 10 journalists and human rights defenders remained imprisoned in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions.”  The  suspected members of banned religious groups are a particular target of ill-treatment by Uzbek authorities.

That torture and other forms of ill-treatment of those suspected of criminal offenses remain widespread in Turkmenistan. It cites electric shocks, rape, and the forcible administration of psychotropic drugs among the methods employed by authorities against suspects. It said freedom of movement remained drastically restricted.

 In Russia, increased peaceful political protests have prompted “repression,” including restrictive new laws and the harassment of rights activists, journalists, and lawyers.  The number of apparently politically motivated verdicts is on the rise. The situation is said to be particularly bad in the volatile North Caucasus, where Amnesty says Russia often fails to properly investigate claims of abuses by law enforcement officials. The assessment says torture and ill-treatment of detainees remain a problem.

 Kyrgyz authorities were guilty of ethnic discrimination after deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz three years ago.

In Georgia the new government is dealing with a delicate political balancing act.

The Amnesty report calls on Belarus to abolish the death penalty, which it says has been carried out in a “cruel and inhuman” way. Executions are conducted in “utmost secrecy” with neither the condemned nor their relatives being informed in advance.

It criticizes Moldova for not doing enough to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moldova was also cited for a law mandating the chemical castration of violent child abusers.

Ukraine is plagued by failings in its criminal justice system and a lack of safeguards for detainees. The rights of homosexuals and transgenders are at risk because of pending legislation.

Amnesty-International

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Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.

THE BALTIC REPUBLICS

Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

THE EU BORDERLANDS UKRAINE, BELARUS and MOLDOVA
Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

THE CAUCASUS
Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

CENTRAL ASIA
A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

RUSSIA
Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Azerbaijani Lawyer Disbarred For ‘Ethics’ Violations After Defending Activists

Posted by Info on 20/09/2011

A lawyer who recently defended four opposition activists in a Baku court has been disbarred by the Azerbaijani Bar Association, stated on September 16 that Elchin Namazov was being punished and banned from practicing law because he had broken “ethics rules for lawyers.

Namazov spoke out against the bar association’s decision, saying “I defended a lot of political activists but didn’t ever expect such a ruling to be made against me.”

Lawyer Khalid Bagired was also recently disbarred by Azerbaijan’s bar association for one year. The ban came shortly after he had also defended the rights of a group of opposition activists.

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UN to Azerbaijan: Human Rights Defenders Must Work In Safety

Posted by Info on 23/08/2011

The building in Baku housing the Institute of Peace and Democracy as well as the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Women’s Crisis Center – the only women’s shelter in the capital – was destroyed on 11 August.

City officials refused to allow the occupants to remove their belongings from the building, including valuable office equipment and files, before bulldozers carried out the demolition, despite a May ruling by a Baku court prohibiting the destruction of the building.

“Given the worrying reports of forced evictions and destruction of property in Baku, as well as of harassment of human rights defenders, we call on the authorities of Azerbaijan to thoroughly investigate this case and, if necessary, provide adequate compensation and restitution,” Rupert Colville, OHCHR’s spokesperson in Geneva.

The Government of Azerbaijan is obliged, by the international and regional treaties which it has ratified, to ensure respect for the right to adequate housing, for the prohibition of forced evictions and property rights, as well as for the rights and freedoms of human rights defenders.”

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Azerbaijani Paid Compensation To Journalist

Posted by Info on 12/08/2011

Journalist Fatullaev, a former political prisoner, received from the Government of Azerbaijan 27,822 euros by the order of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The payment occurred 15 months after making the ECtHR’s decision.

Fatullaev called the decision to pay compensation the “victory of the entire democratic community”.

Earlier, the authorities refused to pay
compensation under the pretext of the off-setting of debts of the newspapers “Real Azerbaijan” and “Gyundelik Azerbaijan” (Daily Azerbaijan), led by Fatullaev.

However, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe made the decision three times on the need for full implementation of the ECtHR’s decision in favour of Fatullaev, including the payment of compensation to him.

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European Court of Human Rights: Azerbaijani Must Pay 50,000 Euro To Opposition

Posted by Info on 27/07/2011

In Azerbaijan after the presidential elections in October 2003 four opposition members were arrested: the head of the central executive body of “Musavat” party Arif Hajili, head of Democratic Party Serdar Mamedov (Jalaloglu), an opposition activist Panah Huseynov, editor of the newspaper “Yeni Musavat” Rauf Abbasov (Arifoglu).
All four opposition leaders were sentenced to 4-5 years of imprisonment for organizing mass riots on October 15-16, 2003. But six months later they were pardoned and released.

The European Court decided their right for a fair trial and other items stipulated in the Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated.
The Azerbaijani authorities are obliged to pay 10,000 Euro as compensation to each of them. Besides, 3,200 Euro must be paid to Sardar Mamedov and the same amount to Panah Huseynov to cover the costs for the work of a lawyer Fuad Agayev. Arif Hajili should be paid 3000 Euro compensation, and Rauf Abbasov – 1500 Euro.

Previously Sardar Jalaloglu already won the case in the European Court against the Azerbaijani government for illegal arrest, and he was paid 10,000 Euro compensation.

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European Parliament: Critical Resolution On Situation With Human Rights In Azerbaijan

Posted by Info on 17/05/2011

The European Parliament adopted a critical resolution on the situation with human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan on May 12 in connection with the imitation of a rally in Baku.

The Azerbaijani Parliament has established a commission which will prepare a letter of protest at the European Parliament’s resolution on Azerbaijan. During the parliamentary session the chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament Oktay Asadov stressed that dozens of people are illegally arrested every day worldwide, violence is used toward them, but no document was adopted on this occasion.
So, WHY is Azerbaijan so special?

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Azerbaijan Cracks Down Hard On Protests Including Children

Posted by Info on 28/04/2011

In oil-rich Azerbaijan, opposition supporters inspired by revolutions in the Arab world are taking to the streets and calling for a change of government. President Aliyev’s family has ruled with an iron grip since 1993.

The Azeri government understands that we have the same system here as they had in Tunisia or Egypt… in fact it is a totally corrupt government” said Political analyst Arastun Orujlu.

It is a peaceful Sunday afternoon in Baku’s immaculately restored city centre. In a central square next to the ruling party’s headquarters, hundreds of people stroll around the 19th Century fountain or chat with friends. In total 65 people were detained. Even some 5 years old girl shouts out “freedom” and punches her tiny fist into the air. She is grabbed by police, starts to cry, and is pushed into a police car.
All were arrested either on their way to the protest, or as soon as they shouted out anything criticising the government.

“For the past five years the situation was very bad when it comes to guaranteeing human rights and freedoms. People just waited and waited and waited. But because of events in the Arab world, people here now understand that they should go and ask the government to meet their demands. Now people realise they have a real chance of changing something.”

The media is tightly controlled by the state and almost 80% of the population either never use the internet or do not know what it is.

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Azerbaijan: Government Closes Two International NGOs

Posted by Info on 20/04/2011

The Azerbaijani government has quietly stopped the operations of two international non-governmental organizations, claiming that it is merely following the terms of its NGO registration requirements.

The Baku offices of the Washington, DC-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Oslo-based Human Rights House Network (HRHN).

Under 2009 amendments to Azerbaijan’s law on NGOs, a bilateral agreement between an NGO’s country of origin and the Azerbaijani government about the NGO’s operations in Azerbaijan is required for the organization’s registration.

Some local analysts have cited both the NDI and Human Rights House Network cases as further proof of the Azerbaijani government’s increasing intolerance for groups that might criticize or disagree with its policies – an intolerance fueled by the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. The closures took place just over a month after the start of unauthorized street rallies by youth activists and opposition parties that have been met with the arrests of dozens of rally participants and suspected organizers.

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Annual Report 2010 By Thomas Hammarberg of Council of Europe

Posted by Info on 14/04/2011

This report is an account of the activities of Commission for Human Righst Office of the Council of Europe during 2010.

….The personal security of journalists has become a serious concern. The politicised penalisation of the journalist Eynullah Fatullayev in Azerbaijan is one illustration. In the Russian Federation several journalists have been assaulted, some of them killed, by forces which have obviously wanted to silence them. It is crucial that such cases are thoroughly investigated and that the attackers – and those behind them – are brought to justice.

It is a grave problem that impunity in criminal cases still persists in Europe. This denies the very scope of the rule of law that we promote. Some of the worst crimes – with the worst repercussions for human rights in general – have gone unpunished. This has been the case in regard to a number of notorious assassinations of journalists and human rights defenders. In some of these cases the contract killer has been identified but not the forces behind them. This is extremely serious. Also, I have not been convinced that the investigations into these cases have always been sufficiently professional and well supported.

FULL TEXT OF THIS REPORT HERE

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Azerbaijan: Dozens of Peaceful Protesters Convicted

Posted by Info on 16/03/2011

Azerbaijani courts have sentenced at least 30 people who took part in peaceful protests to between 5 and 8 days in prison in late night trials that were closed to the public. The rallies on March 11 and 12, 2011, in the wake of the mass protests in the Middle East, protested government corruption and called for the Azerbaijan leadership to resign.

“Azerbaijani authorities should immediately set free those detained for supporting the protests in Baku,”
said Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.Instead of jailing peaceful protesters, the authorities should be investigating police conduct during those rallies.

Over a two-day period, the police rounded up about 100 people in downtown Baku who had intended to or who had participated in the rallies. Most were held for a few hours and released after police took statements from them, but courts sentenced at least 30 people to administrative – or misdemeanor – detention, on charges of disobeying police orders or participating in an unsanctioned rally.

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Azerbaijan Imprisons Facebook Activists Writing About Egypt And Tunisia

Posted by Info on 08/03/2011

This is a second Facebook-related imprisonment in less than a month, a court in Ganja on March 4 sentenced youth activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev to one month in prison. Details about the charges against Hajiyev were not immediately clear.

Twenty-nine-year-old Hajiev, a former parliamentary candidate, is one of the organizers of a youth demonstration against the government planned for March 11. Police in Ganja summoned him twice on March 4 to question him about statements he had posted on Facebook.

“We learned from the developments in the Arab world that when people demand freedom, they achieve it. We call on you to stand on the right side of history, not to resort to force against your own citizens, to build a fair, happy, and free society in Azerbaijan together with ordinary people,” reads one of those statements, directed to police.

The arrests (and Facebook list) follow Egypt and Tunisia’s popular uprisings
, which have been avidly followed by young Azerbaijanis, both on and off Facebook — an interest that has not escaped the government’s attention.

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Azerbaijani Activists Organize Day Of Protest Via Facebook – 11 March

Posted by Info on 04/03/2011

Azerbaijani youth activists have begun a Facebook campaign calling for a day of protest against the government to be held on March 11 and want people to click their approval of the protest as well as gather in different towns and cities across Azerbaijan.

You do not need to be in Azerbaijan or attend a particular march to take part in this event. By clicking ‘I’m attending’ you are simply showing your support for the Azerbaijani [opposition] cause online.”

More than 20,000 Internet users have been informed of the initiative and a few thousand have joined the group, with thousands of others being contacted.

The event scheduled for March 11 can take various forms. “Dozens or hundreds of different protests may take place on that day, one person may hang a flag from his/her house, another may wear a T-shirt with the event’s slogans, another may distribute leaflets, etc.”

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Azerbaijan Fails To Comply With ECHR Decision

Posted by Info on 03/03/2011

The Azerbaijani authorities reject every criticism in connection with Fatullaev’s case.
The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) refuses to pay the monetary compensation in the amount of 27,880 euros to the imprisoned journalists Einullah Fatullaev, due to him in accordance with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Emin Fatullaev, Einullah’s father could not receive the compensation because the money was transferred to the account of the newspaper “Gyundelik Azerbaijan” headed by Einullah Fatullaev; however, the account was blocked under the court verdict of 2007. In November 2010 this verdict was cancelled under decision of the ECtHR. Nevertheless, the journalist was not paid the compensation under the pretext that the money was transferred to the arrested account of the edition.

Lawyer Sadygov described the actions of the IBA as “unwillingness of the authorities” to pay the compensation established by the ECtHR, which is non-execution of decisions of the Strasbourg Court and violation of the Azerbaijani commitments before the Council of Europe (CoE).

The international group of journalists and human rights organizations has reiterated its call upon the CoE’s Committee of Ministers to demand, at its session on March 8-10, from the Azerbaijani government to immediately release Fatullaev from his imprisonment.

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PACE Names Nine States With Delays’ In Implementing Judgments Of EC

Posted by Info on 27/01/2011

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in its adopted resolution, based on a report by Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), the Assembly said structural problems in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine were causing “extremely worrying delays” in implementing judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The main problems were deaths or ill-treatment caused by law-enforcement officials, unlawful or over-long detention, legal proceedings which take too long and court judgments which are not enforced.

Other states with outstanding problems include include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzgovina, Georgia and Serbia.

In a separate resolution, based on a report by David Darchiashvili (Georgia, EPP/CD), the Assembly also denounced “blatant disregard” of the Court by some states which had ignored its clear instructions not to deport individuals who might be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Such “interim measures”, usually involving failed asylum seekers or irregular migrants whose expulsion is imminent, are intended to give the Court time to consider their complaints. States should “fully comply with the letter and spirit” of these requests.

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