Human rights violations continued unabated throughout the week, with arrests of a blogger and a political party activist. Blogger Khalid Khanlarov was sentenced to 25 days in administrative detention on trumped-up charges for his activity on social networking sites.
With two other bloggers sentenced to administrative detention earlier in January, bloggers have become the government’s main targets this month. The authorities have increased their attacks on online media; three websites (Qaynar.info, Independent Information Agency (Mia.az), and Journalist Research Center (JAM.az)) were issued official warnings by the Prosecutor General’s Office for their coverage of the protests in the regions of Azerbaijan this month.
The President’s Aide on Socio-Political Affairs, Ali Hasanov, announced the possibility of introducing restrictive measures to regulate online freedom of expression. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Press Council, MP Aflatun Amashov has emphasized the importance of defining the legal status of the online media and making the relevant legal amendments.
In a similar vein, political parties activists are also being targeted by the government. A member of the opposition party Musavat, Elvin Pashayev, was arrested on drug trafficking charges. APFP deputy chairman Fuad Gahramanli, jailed pending trial, has not been released under house arrest, despite a motion submitted by his lawyer,
Those who are already behind bars continue to face intimidation, pressure, and limitations to their basic freedoms. For example, journalist Khadija Ismayil has been unable to review the documents relating to her European Court of Human Rights case. The prison has demanded – in contravention of the law – that all documents must be translated from English into Azerbaijani and notarized. The authorities are even blocking humanitarian aid; prison officials refused to accept the warm clothes collected for the inmates of Prison #13 through a campaign launched by Nigar Yagublu, the daughter of journalist Tofig Yagublu.
This week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) discussed two documents of importance to the government. The resolution on “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan” was denied, while another motion, entitled “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, has been accepted. The important document concerning Karabakh was not accepted as a result of the government’s own actions. Human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev and Anar Mammadli, who are close associates of many PACE MPs, are behind bars, and local GONGOs were unable to campaign for the adoption of the resolution.
This week, international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Transparency International published their reports on human rights violations in Azerbaijan.