European Parliament calls for release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan

Sources: RFE/RL, Trend.az

The European Parliament on May 12, 2015 called on the Azerbaijani authorities to release political prisoners ahead of the European Games due to kick off on June 12, RFE/RL reported. EU lawmakers also urged European leaders to boycott the opening ceremony in Baku.

The Azerbaijani government “should fully grant its citizens all the freedoms that are laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights, which it adheres to,” and in line with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Olympic Charter, according to European Parliament Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff.

According to the RFE/RL report, the European Parliament is likely to vote on a resolution on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan in June. The same source indicates that several members of the European Parliament plan to write to the Azerbaijani authorities calling for the release of imprisoned journalists.

RFE/RL quoted Dinara Yunus, daughter of jailed human rights activist Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus, as saying that her mother was suffering from hepatitis C and diabetes and lost 16 kilograms during her incarceration. She also noted that she hadn’t heard about her father since August 5, 2014.

Human rights groups have criticized Azerbaijan for rights violations, arrests of journalists and oppositionists. In a newly-released report, Freedom Now and the Human Rights House Network documented incidents of torture and mistreatment, as well as due process violations before and during the trials of prisoners of conscience.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Parliament on May 13 held hearings on “a campaign of discrediting Azerbaijan and the attempts to harm the international authority of the country on the eve of the first European Games,” Trend.az reported.

“Azerbaijan is a young country and it will conduct such an important event. The campaign, carried out in this regard against the country, originates from political jealousy,” said MP Azay Guliyev.

Parliament Vice-Speaker Valeh Alasgarov slammed the European Parliament, describing its actions as “vile” aimed at “slandering Azerbaijan on the eve of the first European Games.”