• Azerbaijan hosted the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, casting an international spotlight on the government’s deteriorating human rights record. The atmosphere for political activists and independent and pro-opposition journalists grew acutely hostile. Authorities used imprisonment as a tool for political retribution and forcibly dispersed a number of peaceful demonstrations, indiscriminately arresting activists and passersby. Restrictions on freedom of religion and the prosecution of unregistered religious groups continued. The government intensified its urban renewal campaign in the capital Baku, forcibly evicting thousands of families and illegally demolishing homes.

  • Rasul Jafarov, a leading Azerbaijani human rights defender and government critic, is escorted by police officers into a van in Baku, Azerbaijan.
    Azerbaijan’s international partners should insist on the release of wrongfully detained and imprisoned critics as the country prepares to host the first European Games. Human Rights Watch released a new video on April 20, 2015, featuring prominent activists and journalists detained in the months leading up to the games.

Reports

Azerbaijan

  • Apr 23, 2015
  • Apr 22, 2015
    A court in Azerbaijan on April 22, 2015, sentenced Intigam Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s leading human rights lawyer, to seven years and six months in prison on bogus charges. The authorities should immediately release Aliyev, 52, and vacate his politically motivated conviction.
  • Apr 22, 2015
  • Apr 20, 2015
    Azerbaijan’s international partners should insist on the release of wrongfully detained and imprisoned critics as the country prepares to host the first European Games. Human Rights Watch released a new video on April 20, 2015, featuring prominent activists and journalists detained in the months leading up to the games.
  • Apr 16, 2015
    Azerbaijan’s conviction on April 16, 2015, of a leading human rights activist and government critic, Rasul Jafarov, reflects the government’s relentless crackdown against independent voices. The authorities should immediately release Jafarov and vacate his politically motivated conviction. The authorities should also end their ongoing harassment of the country’s human rights community and allow human rights groups to function freely.
  • Apr 15, 2015
  • Apr 7, 2015
    We are writing today, ahead of the Baku European Games in June, to express our concerns about the escalating repression over the last year by the Azerbaijani government against its critics coupled with a dramatic deterioration in its already poor press freedom and human rights record.
  • Apr 7, 2015
    Rights abuses may taint the first European Games unless the European Olympic Committees and key National Olympic Committees urge the Azerbaijani government to release unjustly imprisoned journalists and activists.
  • Apr 6, 2015
  • Apr 3, 2015
    Azerbaijan isn't so welcoming to human rights observers; Indiana's new law makes it easier to discriminate; and Bahrain's government shows again just how tolerant it is of criticism - these were among the most popular posts to Dispatches...