Society 10:43 23/03/2015

Appeals in Washington to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani authorities for crackdowns on civil society

Leading US analysts for Eurasia discussed the issues of repressions against the civil society activists and media in Azerbaijan calling on the West to impose sanctions on the government representatives who violate human rights in the country, Azerbaijani information agency Turan reports, citing its Washington correspondent.

According to the article, during the event called “Crackdown: Independent Media and Civil Society in Azerbaijan and Turkey,” held by the human rights organization Freedom House, National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society Institute (OSI), Senior Policy Analyst at OSI Jeff Goldstein said that it is time for the US and the West to respond with significant actions to make it clear to the Azerbaijani government that “the path they are on is not being ignored…”

As the article reads, Goldstein considers Azerbaijan to be a very repressive country. 

“The situation has particularly deteriorated over the last two years. Today the country has probably more political prisoners than Russia and Belarus combined,” he said.

As the article has it, Goldstein also drew attention to the mechanisms that the Azerbaijani government exercised to silence civil society and free media, and called them “something rather new.” He noted that Baku had created a system where all the NGOs must register grants with government agencies. He highlighted that as Azerbaijan “successfully” continues cracking down against Western institutions and civil society, their practice is being transferred to other regional authoritarian regimes.

Referring to the reasons of the behavior of Baku, the expert said that according to some analytics the Azerbaijani authorities have a feeling that they are unfairly accused of human rights issues. Goldstein also highlighted that the Azerbaijani government is “scared” of the uprisings in the neighborhood, such as protests in Maidan, and Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

“They see much going on and they do really appear to believe that there is a program of creating color revolutions and they may be the next,” the analyst stated.

According to the article, he said that the Azerbaijani authorities think that the West is more concerned with the events in the other countries of the region and that is why they will do everything they want without fearing the response of the West. Regarding the international reaction to the crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Goldstein claimed that the Azerbaijani leadership “clearly cares” about its international reputation, given Baku’s caviar diplomacy in the Western capitals.

Arzu Geybullayeva, independent journalist and blogger from Istanbul, in her speech pointed out particular cases of threatening, prosecutions, arrests of civil society activists and journalists in Azerbaijan. 

“I have friends in jail that haven’t seen their children because of the regime,” she said.



Source Panorama.am
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