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Six American States Adopting a Joint Resolution on Armenian Genocide Centennial

Political Analyst: Process of International Recognition of Armenian Genocide to be Expanded

Cem Terzi: Turkish Society Ripening for the Recognition of Armenian Genocide

Expert: April 24 Showing Scientific and Political Consensus on the Indisputability of the Armenian Genocide

U.S. State Department Representative Does not Know If the U.S. Fear Turkey

Mayor of New York commemorates centennial of Armenian Genocide - "one the worst atrocities of the 20th century"

European Movement adopts a resolution on Armenian Genocide

Ankara: Turkish nation will not forget and forgive Joachim Gauck's statements

Hollande and Aliyev discuss Karabakh conflict

Official Ankara criticizes Obama's stand on events of 1915

The Kremlin: Putin's participation in memorial events in Yerevan cannot be negatively interpreted by Ankara

Eiffel Tower and Coliseum went dark in memory of Armenian Genocide victims

Ankara strongly criticizes Francois Hollande's visit to Yerevan

Central Council of Jews in Germany advocates calling events of 1915 genocide

Ankara's Second Response to Putin's Statement on the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

Vladimir Putin: Armenia and Russia Have Always Been, Are and Will Be Close Allies

Knesset Member Criticizing Israeli Government for Denying Armenian Genocide

Georgian Armenians Demonstrating in Front of Turkish Embassy in Tbilisi

Canadian Prime Minister Calling upon Yerevan and Ankara to Resume Negotiations on Normalization of Relations

Serzh Sargsyan: Ankara made vein attempt to resist or affect larger process related to recognition of genocide

First Commemorative Demonstration on the Armenian Genocide to Take Place in Rome since 1975

Erdogan: Turkey shares Armenians' pain

President of Armenia: I refuse to believe that transitory interests can shatter humanity's dreams of freedom and peace cherished for centuries

Serzh Sargsyan: "Turkey's proposal of establishing the so-called commission of historians has only one goal, which is to delay the process of the Armenian Genocide recognition"

Turkey's Labor Party (EMEK) and some local human rights organizations condemn Genocide of Armenians

Russian expert: Putin's participation in Armenian Genocide Centennial events not to edit Moscow's geopolitical maneuvering

Vladimir Putin: 1.5 mln Armenians were killed, 600 thsd were deported, unique historical monuments and invaluable books and manuscripts were destroyed in 1915

Serzh Sargsyan: "We are ready to embark upon a constructive dialogue with Turkey in case it faces its own history"

Francois Hollande: World community must remember Genocide to prevent it in future

Serbia President: "We have no moral right to forget the Armenian Genocide victims and the shocking facts of the past"

ANCA: Sad spectacle of President Obama playing word games with genocide falls beneath dignity of American people

Foreign Minister of Armenia: German President's statement important contribution to prevention of new genocides

Serzh Sargsyan: Armenia has never declared any territorial claims either to Turkey, or to any other country

Armenian president's interview with Hurriyet: "Turkish authorities taking burden of responsibility for crime perpetrated by authorities of Ottoman Empire"

Presidents of Russia, France, Serbia, and Cyprus arrive at Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan

Google.am honors memory of Armenian Genocide victims

High-ranking representatives of various countries 'forming' a forget-me-not of peace near Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan

Serj Tankian calls on Armenia's leadership to create egalitarian civic society, to get rid of institutional injustices and stop depopulation of Armenia

Obama breaks his word again

Founding Parliament Movement looks to change power in Armenia

Vladimir Putin arrives in Yerevan to commemorate Armenian Genocide martyrs

Bulgarian MP: Bulgaria has refused to discuss the draft resolution on Armenian Genocide under Ankara's pressure

Congressman Schiff Reads Names of 1,000 Armenian Genocide Victims on House Floor

Nalbandian: Recurrence of genocides in XX century was result of international community's hesitation and inconsistency

Cardinal Curt Kokh: Faith Helped Armenians Survive the First Genocide of 20th Century

Turkish Politician: Turkish Society Desires the Opening of Borders with no Preconditions

Ankara responds to Austria's resolution recognizing Armenian Genocide

Ambassador: German Policy Cannot be Affected by Phone Call from Turkey

Deutshe Welle: German parliament's decisiveness and new debate about term "genocide" gained momentum thanks to Pope Francis and President Gauck

System of a Down starts a concert in Yerevan in heavy rain

Human Rights Watch: CoE's leaders and members of its Parliamentary Assembly should urge Azerbaijani President to end his country's growing persecution of government critics and independent groups

  • by Ashot Safaryan

  • Tuesday, June 24, 12:56

The Council of Europe's leaders and members of its Parliamentary Assembly should urge Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to end his country's growing persecution of government critics and independent groups. The Council of Europe is Europe's leading human rights body, according to the Human Rights Watch.   

As president of the country that currently holds the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Aliyev will address the Parliamentary Assembly on June 24, 2014.  "It's sheer irony that Azerbaijan presides over a body whose standards it so flagrantly violates," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Council of Europe's leadership should not miss this opportunity to urge Aliyev to free people who are behind bars for nothing more than speaking their minds and to allow independent groups to operate."

In the past two years, Azerbaijani authorities have brought or threatened unfounded criminal charges against at least 40 political activists, journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, most of whom are behind bars. In its September 2013 report "Tightening the Screws: Azerbaijan's Crackdown on Civil Society and Dissent," and in dozens of follow-up interviews, Human Rights Watch documented the authorities' use of a range of criminal charges, including drug and weapons possession, incitement to violence, hooliganism, tax evasion, and even treason to silence its critics.

President Aliyev and his government repeatedly deny the existence of politically motivated prosecutions in Azerbaijan, but the circumstances of the criminal investigations and numerous violations in legal proceedings leave little doubt that the charges against these critics are bogus and intended to punish them for their independent activism and criticism of the authorities, Human Rights Watch said.  Several Council of Europe bodies have expressed concern about politically motivated prosecutions in Azerbaijan. On June 20 Mailis Reps, the Parliamentary Assembly's rapporteur on human rights defenders, expressed profound concern about "various intimidation measures being taken against human rights defenders, other civic activists, journalists and bloggers [in Azerbaijan] - such as arbitrary arrests, unfair trials on fabricated charges and even the use of torture in custody."

In May the European Court of Human Rights found that the government had arrested Ilgar Mammadov, one of the country's top opposition political activists, "to silence or punish [him] for criticizing the Government."

In a statement on Azerbaijan issued in April 2014, Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks concluded that "[u]njustified and selective criminal prosecution of people expressing dissenting views, including journalists, bloggers and activists, continues unabated. This is unacceptable. All those who are detained because of the views they expressed must be released."

In January 2013 the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on Azerbaijan that said, among other things, that "[t]he combination of the restrictive implementation of freedoms with unfair trials and the undue influence of the executive results in the systemic detention of people who may be considered prisoners of conscience."

"President Aliyev is likely to claim in Strasbourg that no one in Azerbaijan is in prison on politically motivated charges," Williamson said. "He should be asked to explain why some of the country's top political activists are behind bars, or why police arrest Facebook activists on drug charges but then question them exclusively about their activism."

Meanwhile, the government has imposed onerous reporting obligations for advocacy groups, establishing prohibitive fines for those that fail to comply and refusing to register certain groups it expects to be critical of the government. By refusing to register some human rights groups, the government is pushing them to the margins of the law, Human Rights Watch said, because they cannot legally finance their activities.

On May 26, in a recent example, a court in Baku found Anar Mammadli, head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center guilty of illegal entrepreneurship for operating without registration and other charges, and sentenced him to five and a half years in prison.
"It's high time for Azerbaijan to show true leadership by fulfilling the obligations it undertook 13 years ago when it joined the Council of Europe," Williamson said. "Releasing Mammadov and Mammadli, together with dozens of other imprisoned activists, and allowing independent groups to operate unhindered, is the obvious place to start."

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