On 4 December, another famous civil society figure was arrested in Azerbaijan as a Baku court authorized investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s pre-trial detention for 2 months on bogus charges of “inciting suicide”. This shows that there appears to be no limit to the assault on independent voices by the government of this oil rich country.
Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest comes the day after a lengthy article was published by the head of the presidential administration, accusing NGOs and the Meydan TV with which Ms. Ismayilova has cooperated of being “fifth columns.” Ms.Ismayilova was specifically accused of “wishing to please her foreign bosses.”
ARTICLE 19, together with the members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, welcomes the reaction of the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ms. Anne Brasseur, “urging the competent authorities to ensure that the standards of the (European) Convention are respected in any judicial and legal proceedings against Ms. Ismayilova as well as other leading human rights defenders”.
Local and international civil society has, however, stopped believing in the goodwill of Azerbaijan’s government to abide by international human rights standards, especially after its used its six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to further unleash its civil society crackdown. It is now time for the Council of Europe to respond in a non-compromising way to the current crackdown in Azerbaijan, if it wants to safeguard the role and image of the Council of Europe as value-bearer.
ARTICLE 19, together with the Civic Solidarity Platform, calls upon the Council of Europe to suspend Azerbaijan from its membership in this organisation until the authorities of the country drop all charges against NGO representatives, lawyers and journalists currently in detention or prison for their legitimate work and frees them. As long as the Azerbaijani government continues to flagrantly violate the European Convention on Human Rights and the commitments Azerbaijan undertook when it was admitted to the Council of Europe, it should not be allowed to participate in the work of this organization, which prides itself as the region’s guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
6 December 2014
Signed by the following members of the Civic Solidarity Platform:
International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium)
Albanian Helsinki Committee
Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (Georgia)
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
Center for National and International Studies (Azerbaijan)
Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russia)
Crude Accountability (United States)
Freedom Files (Russia)
Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly – Vanadzor (Armenia)
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Human Rights Group “Citizen.Army.Law” (Russia)
Human Rights Movement Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law
Kharkiv Regional Foundation “Public Alternative” (Ukraine)
Moscow Helsinki Group (Russia)
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Nota Bene (Tajikistan)
Office of Civil Freedoms (Tajikistan)
Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Promo Lex Association (Moldova)
Public Verdict Foundation (Russia)
United for Intercultural Action (Netherlands)