Twenty people demonstrated at the embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Prague in protest of imprisonment of human rights defenders in this country in the Caucasus. They held photos of the Azerbaijani political prisoners, whose overall number exceeds 100. The event called “Non-freedom in Azerbaijan burns us up” was organized by Czech NGO NESEHNUTÍ, which has for many years supported civic initiatives in the South Caucasus via its program The Initiative Way.
Today’s event at the embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan was concluded with a call for immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners from the Azerbaijani prisons. Within this initiative, the attendees pointed out the fates of over 100 people imprisoned in Azerbaijan for performing civic activities and criticizing the regime. Among those kept in jail are both men and women: human rights defenders, independent journalists, artists, opposition politicians, religious representatives, and members of youth organizations. The up-to-date list of political prisoners in the country is available in this document; life stories of some of them are attached hereto.
The participants of the event for the release of politically persecuted individuals in Azerbaijan also brought into focus the nature of relations between the Czech Republic and the Caucasian dictatorship. “This country in the South Caucasian is not so well-known yet in the Czech Republic, but these two countries have much more in common than one would think. 25% of oil pumped into cars in the Czech Republic comes from Azerbaijan. Only very few people understand that this way we unwillingly help financing a harsh dictatorship”, explained Petra Havlíková from NESEHNUTÍ.
“We burn the Azerbaijani oil, but, likewise, it is the non-freedom in Azerbaijan that burns us up”, says Peter Tkáč, a participant of the event, explaining the meaning of a transparent saying “Non-freedom in Azerbaijan burns us up”.
Besides NESEHNUTÍ, the issue of human rights violations in Azerbaijan has constantly been in the center of attention of other NGOs (Amnesty International, People in Need). NESEHNUTÍ also organizes signature collection in support of the release of two political prisoners, Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev, addressed to the president of Azerbaijan. In view of the fact that in September 2014 the European Parliament approved an extremely important resolution No. 2014/2832 on the persecution of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, the NGO NESEHNUTÍ called all MEPs to support the petition for the release of both unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned men.
Persecution of political opponents to the Azerbaijani dictatorship escalated this summer, only a couple of months after Azerbaijan took over as chair at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. During this wave of prosecutions and arrests, not only independent journalists, human rights activists, bloggers and others were detained, but also those, who showed them support or provided them with legal aid. The chronology of repressions from May until August 2014 is available in the document of the European Stability Initiative, a Europe’s think tank.
NESEHNUTÍ receives individual support from people in the Czech Republic and abroad who regularly donate funds to the transparent bank account of the organization. Financial support for activities of NESEHNUTÍ was also provided by the International Visegrad Fund.
Contact: Petra Havlíková, NESEHNUTÍ, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone number: +420 732 854 435
Attachment: Who are the political prisoners in the photos?