Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils
called for releasing Azerbaijani political prisoners, including human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and other activists,
reported on May 20, 2015.
Speaking with a pro-government TV channel, Muzhnieks was asked about the perceived “double standard” in the Council of Europe policies toward Hilal Mamedov, perceived as a separatist in Azerbaijan, while condemning separatists in Ukraine.
Mamedov is a minority human rights activist in Azerbaijan who was arrested on June 21, 2012. He is an advocate for the Talysh minority group and the chief editor of the only newspaper in Azerbaijan that publishes in the Talysh language. His arrest was described by human rights activists as an attempt to pressure minority groups in Azerbaijan.
“Hilal Mamedov is a representative of a national minority, scientist and journalist, who was illegally convicted in Azerbaijan, like many other journalists, bloggers, and social activists. And it’s not just a matter of freedom of expression, but freedom of the legal system of Azerbaijan, which selectively arrests and condemns people, not based on law, but by a political order,” Muzhnieks said.
“And there is no other country of the Council of Europe, where all my partners are in prison, so do not talk about double standards,” he added.
Asked about whether the Council of Europe takes into account the position of the Azerbaijani government, Muzhnieks responded, “Listen, there are two possibilities: either the Council of Europe is composed of idiots who just cooperate with separatists, drug addicts, suicides and revolutionaries, or there is something very bad with the legal system of Azerbaijan.”
“I can assure you – we are not idiots!” he said.
Turan news agency
, Muzhnieks insisted that the Azerbaijani government must release Khadija Ismailova, Rasul Jafarov and “all other human rights defenders, journalists and others who are unjustly in prison.”
Back in November 2014,
quoted Muzhnieks as saying that “Azerbaijan will go down in history as the country that carried out an unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders during its chairmanship.”