Most recent victims in the government’s witch hunt

Just in one week, several prominent rights defenders and supporters of free speech were arrested, their offices and homes raided.

August 03, 2014: Amid the witchhunt against human rights activists in Azerbaijan, the European Union called on Azerbaijani government to “respect its international commitments”. In a statement by Catherin Ashton, EU top diplomat and Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy “deep concern” was expressed over the recent arrests, and especially of the couple, Leyla and Arif Yunus. “This is part of a wider picture of mounting restrictions targeting civil society in Azerbaijan”, read the statement.

August 05, 2014: Emin Huseynov, head of the Reporters’ Safety and Freedom Institute was banned from leaving the country. His bank accounts were frozen. On August 8, police searched Huseynov’s mothers’ apartment, confiscating his personal computers. The same day, police forcefully entered the office of RSFI and confiscated their equipment.

Also on August 5, Arif Yunus, husband of Leyla Yunus, was arrested while on his way to visit his wife. The reason for his arrest was the violation of travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Yunus. He too will be held in pretrial detention for the next three months.

The couple is accused of having links to Armenian special forces and are accused of espionage.

August 08, 2014: Prominent human rights defender and the chair of the Rights Education Society, Intigam Aliyev was sentenced to three months of pre- trial detention. He is charged with tax evasion, abuse of positional power, and illegal business activities. Aliyev was part of a working group in charge of updating the political prisoners list together with Leyla and Arif Yunus and Rasul Cafarov. The Yunus family as well as Cafarov were already arrested [August 2]. Aliyev, is the latest human rights defender to be detained in Azerbaijan in the course of just past few weeks.

August 09, 2014: Leyla Yunus, who is currently in pretrial detention, wrote a statement where she details the unjust and illegal behavior of the government of Azerbaijan in its treatment of human rights defenders including herself and her husband. Yunus, wrote of the government’s true intention- to destroy their family. “The bloody tyranny sees no limits”, stated Yunus, “I perfectly understand the present situation- [they] are going to violently torture both of us until we die”.

Amid this crackdown,

Azerbaijan lost 15 soldiers

as a result of shootings along the “line of contact” which marks the boundary between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian-held areas in and around Nagorno Karabakh.

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