Politics 15:40 11/08/2015

Azerbaijan: The more HR defenders behind bars, the easier to stage “democratic” elections

Human Rights Watch issued a press release saying that the Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova became one of the four recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges human rights award for 2015.

“The Alison Des Forges Award honors people who work courageously and selflessly to defend human rights, often in dangerous situations and at great personal sacrifice,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The honorees have dedicated their lives to defending the world’s most oppressed and vulnerable people.” Ismayilova’s award ceremony will take place twice, in Munich and Geneva.

Earlier in August 2015, Khadija Ismayilova received press freedom award from US National Press Club.
The news website Silk Road Reporters  points that as Azerbaijan prepares for the parliamentary elections in November 2015, the authorities are ensuring they finalize all their controversial politically motivated trials before the election campaign kicks off. Authorities, worried that these trials against human rights lawyers and journalists will be used against them ahead of elections, are rushing to wrap them up before within a few weeks. While human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev and activist Rasul Jafarov were sentenced in the spring before the European Games, the trials of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova and human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus are underway.

“Leyla Yunus and Khadija Ismayilova are well-known worldwide, and the world’s eyes and ears are following these trials. Everyone knows that these trials are based on trumped up charges, but, on the other hand, the government is trying to make sure that it can handle these trials the way it likes. And they need to finish these trials now, while the Western world is away vacationing, and before the pre-election campaign starts,” Azerbaijani activist Akhmed Rashid told Silk Road Reporters.
Azerbaijani political analyst Huseyn Aghayev added that the government of the country does not care about human rights defenders’ health condition or other concerns. The goal is to lock them up for a long period before the pre-election campaign starts. “They need all these trials of their plate, so they can focus on rigging the election results. In fact, the more human rights defenders, who have the power to expose the regime’s atrocities, are behind bars, the easier for the government to stage ‘democratic’ elections,” he said.
Information agency Turan reports that the independent press representatives and civil society activists were again barred from Khadija Ismayilova’s trial on 10 August 2015. However, Ismayilova’s two relatives, as well as the US, France, Netherlands embassies and EU office staffers were allowed to enter the courtroom. Opposition activists as well as human rights and youth organization representatives gathered by the court building. Tural Mustafayev, the “victim,” and witnesses, namely journalists Chingiz Sultansoy and Shahvalad Chobanoglu, lawyers Samira Agayeva and Rovshana Rahimli, Mustafayev’s ex-girlfriend, spoke during the trial.

In his testimony, Mustafayev stated that Ismayilova was not guilty of his suicide attempt. He said he had made that step and slandered Khadija Ismayilova after a quarrel with his girlfriend. The girlfriend, Rovshana Rahimova, and Tural Mustafayev’s mother confirmed this to the judge. The witnesses also said the suicide attempt was connected with Mustafayev’s mental problems. When drunk, he loses self-control. He was being treated in psychiatric hospital 25 days before the incident, they said.

On 7 August 2015, even Ismayilova’s mother was not allowed to be present at the trial. The journalists, who had arrived at Baku court of grave crimes to cover the journalist’s trial, were subjected to physical and moral pressure by a group of people sitting in the courtroom. They started to insult Voice of America and Turan’s reporters, and RFE/RL’s cameraman, trying to break their cameras and hit them. Meanwhile, the police officers quietly watched the scene.

On 5 December 2014, the well-known Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova was detained after being questioned at the prosecutor's office. Baku Sabail District Court made a decision to detain her on charges of incitement to suicide. The arrest of Ismayilova has been followed by a wave of condemning statements by a number of international organizations and influential representatives from various states. Protests have been organized in her support in various countries; and prominent international outlets released articles covering the topic. However, on 13 February 2015, the Grave Crimes Investigation Department of Azerbaijan Prosecutor General's Office charged the journalist under articles 179.3.2 (large-scale appropriation), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship with large income) and 308.2 (abuse of power with grave consequences) of Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. The journalist was fined while in jail. She faces up to 12 years in prison on her first charge. In early April, Azerbaijani journalist Tural Mustafayev – under whose complaint Khadija Ismayilova had been arrested last December – wrote a letter to Zakir Garalov, the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, saying that he wanted to withdraw his appeal. When asked why he had lodged an accusation, Mustafa told the journalist that he was under emotional stress in that period.

Related:
Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova jailed for criticizing authorities wins Anna Politkovskaya Award 
Lindro.it: Azerbaijani lie capturing Europe is mortally dangerous, and those suspicious ties must be cut off 
Khadija Ismayilova from Baku court: Ilham Aliyev has personal dislike towards me 



Source Panorama.am
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