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Azerbaijan: Release of Political Prisoners Should Lead to More Releases
In response to the government of Azerbaijan releasing more than a dozen political prisoners on March 17, 2016, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House urges the government of Azerbaijan to drop all remaining charges on the 100 or more people arrested for transparently political reasons,” said Mark P. Lagon, president. “More than 80 other journalists, human rights defenders, and religious and political activists remain in prison, many of whom have been mistreated and are in need of urgent medical attention. We also urge President Aliyev to allow human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus to leave the country to obtain urgently needed medical care.”
For two years, Azerbaijan has cracked down on civil society and independent media, detaining more than 100 people. The newly released prisoners include: journalist Rauf Mirgadirov; youth movement activist Rashadat Akhundov of N!DA; Mahammad Azizov of N!DA; Rashad Hasanov of N!DA; journalist Parviz Hashimli; human rights defender Rasul Jafarov; blogger Siraj Karimli. Other released prisoners include: human rights defender Taleh Khasmammadov; election monitor Anar Mammadli; journalist Hilal Mammadov; blogger Omar Mammadov; former government official Akif Muradverdiyev ; Nemat Penahli, chairman of the National Statehood Party); Yadigar Sadigov, of the opposition Musavat Party); and journalist Tofig Yagublu.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.