February 4th, 2011
During the 1 February 2011 meeting of the National Assembly (Azerbaijani Parliament), the speaker Ogtay Asadov said that too many Azerbaijani NGO representatives and rights defenders had attended the PACE session. “In addition to the Azerbaijani delegation, 25 to 30 people attended the PACE session.

. You never hear anything positive from any of them. We have seen it before. It seems like they have all planned their speeches to be negative. We need to be more attentive to such issues.”

We deem this statement to be an act of aggression against civil society representatives and interference in their activities. All NGOs and rights defenders are entitled to join international events, attend discussions and share their opinions. Article 47 (freedom of though and expression) of the Azerbaijani Constitution, Article 10 (freedom of expression) of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and other local and international documents protect freedom of thought and expression. The necessity of active involvement by civil society representatives in these discussions is outlined in multiple CoE documents, highlighted as one of the main conditions for democracy and pluralism.

We deem the speaker’s expression “We need to be more attentive on such issues” as a direct threat. We believe that speeches like this, given by high-ranking officials in a democratic society, are inadmissible. We call upon the international community, particularly PACE, to respond to this action and support the rights defenders.

Legal Education Society Chairman Intigam Aliyev
Democracy and Human Rights Center Chairman Asabali Mustafayev
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Chairman Emin Huseynov                           
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety representative Rasul Jafarov                  
Election Monitoring and Democracy Training Center Chairman Anar Mamamdli
Democracy Monitor Chairman Fuad Hasanov
Azerbaijan (Nowrwegian)  Human Rights House Chairman Vugar Gojayev