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Azerbaijan: U.S., Other Governments Should Attend Politically Motivated Trials
In advance of several pending trials for political prisoners in Azerbaijan, Freedom House released the following statement:
“Freedom House urges the United States and other nations to send ambassadors or other high-ranking officials to attend the pending trials of imprisoned human rights defenders in Azerbaijan,” said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. “U.S. Ambassador Robert Cekuta and other nations’ ambassadors can send a strong message of support for Azerbaijan’s human rights defenders by attending these politically motivated proceedings. We also urge the United States and other governments to condemn these trials for what they are – farcical, politically motivated attempts to silence dissent in Azerbaijan and hide government corruption. The charges filed against political prisoners should be dropped, and all political prisoners should be immediately released.”
Human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, human rights activist Rasul Jafarov, and political activist Murad Adilov had appeals trials on July 21. Investigative journalist and RFE/RL reporter Khadija Ismayilova has a trial date scheduled for July 24. The trial for human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus is scheduled to begin on July 27. Rasul Jafarov’s next trial is scheduled for July 31. There are currently more than 80 political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.75 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
PHOTO: Top row from left to right: Khadija Ismayilova, Murad Adilov. Bottom row: Intigam Aliyev, Leyla Yus. Photo of Intigam Aliyev courtesy of Dinara Yunus. Photo of Khadija Ismayilova courtesy of Turxan Qarishqa. Photo of Murad Adilov courtesy of Natiq Adilov.
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.