As it became known to our portal, on May 15, in Washington, in the building of the U.S. Congress there was a meeting between Senator Benjamin Cardin with famous political expert Ramis Yunus. We remind our readers that Senator Cardin is one of the most influential representatives of the U.S. legislature, representing Democratic Party from the State of Maryland. His name is well known from “Magnitsky Act”,which was proposed by Senator Cardin to forbid entry to the U.S. for Russian officials involved in the scandal and death of Sergei Magnitsky, civil lawyer of Hermitage Capital Management. And after his harsh statement last week about recent arrests in Azerbaijan, including arrest of the prominent human rights activist Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus, which occurred at the airport in Baku in front of the leaders of the U.S. and French embassies caused a major stir not only in Azerbaijan.
We contacted our regular contributor Ramis Yunus, who confirmed that this meeting took place and kindly gave us an exclusive interview:
– Ramis bey, can you briefly give us information about your meeting with Senator Cardin?
– Yes, today I met with Senator Cardin at his office in the building of the U.S. Congress. I must say that from the very beginning of the meeting, I was struck by his good awareness about the current situation in Azerbaijan and, therefore, it should not be a surprise that Senator Cardin was very first senior U.S. politician who made a statement regarding the recent arrests of representatives of civil society in Azerbaijan, including arrests of members of my family-my brother Arif and his wife, the well-known human rights activist Leyla Yunus, who is also Knight of the Legion of Honor of France. Moreover, I informed the distinguished senator about new wave of repressions against representatives of youth organizations and in particular «NIDA», who received long prison sentences on trumped-up charges, spoke about the beginning of another “witch hunt”, but this time this “hunt” is affecting the representatives of civil society, such as the case of the journalist Rauf Mirkadirov and arrests of Yadigar Sadyhly, Tofig Yagublu and Ilgar Mamedov. Besides, I also informed Senator Cardin about forum held yesterday in Baku on human rights and gave him the list of 130 political prisoners prepared by the Institute for Peace and Democracy, led by Leyla Yunus. In addition, I told Senator about rampant ugliness that accompanied the arrest of my brother and his wife, on the total permissiveness of law enforcement agencies, including the detention of correspondents from France who covered the visit of French President in Baku and how footage of this visit has been brutally confiscated by Azeri authorities.
– What was the reaction of Senator Cardin and how you feel, whether U.S. officials will be able to influence the regime in Baku and force them to back down?
– We had a pretty detailed conversation about the reasons of this new round of repressions and that these repressions relate primarily to those members of our society who favor European integration of Azerbaijan. Senator Cardin frankly told me that he, like many of his colleagues, are worried about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan since in this regard, Azerbaijan has one of the worst records and stands together with the most odious and dictatorship regimes in the world. Consequently, such conditions do not suit the U.S. because energy security is impossible in countries with authoritarian regimes. Sooner or later, this situation may get out of control; therefore, he promised to continue to monitor closely severe human rights violations in our country and is going to talk about this situation with representatives of the U.S. administration and Azeri government as well.