Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski
confirmed that the US Government is aware of the case of Leyla Yunus and is troubled by the latest development.
Azerbaijan -- Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, undated
Responding from Tallin, Estonia, to a question from RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Malinowski said, " I am aware of the case of Mrs.Yunus. It is very troubling to me and the US Government. And we will be conveying that privately and publicly to the Government of Azerbaijan."
Touching on the issue of the ongoing government crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan, Malinowski said that,
"We have a close partnership with the Government of Azerbaijan, and we would like to have a closer partnership because we feel that the partnership is important for the promotion of peace and stability in the region. But we have made it clear to the Government of Azerbaijan, and will make it clear again in light of [these] events that this is not the way to achieve stability.
In fact when you crack down on civil society, when you crack down on people who are expressing a peaceful criticism of government polices, you have less peace in your society and you fuel the very sources of violence and extremism that our governments are committed to oppose."
Also today, The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks
issued a following comments on the detention and questioning of Leyla Yunus.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks
"I am dismayed at the news that human rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband have been detained and searched for hours at Baku airport, with difficulties to meet their lawyer, and at the subsequent questioning of Leyla Yunus by the Prosecutor’s office.
Unfortunately, this is an additional example showing the extent of intimidation and repression of critical voices in Azerbaijan, a problem which I have repeatedly highlighted – most recently, through observations published last week -- and asked the Azerbaijani authorities to address.
The authorities must immediately halt such practice and take urgent measures to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are respected. As a member of the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has the duty to comply with its human rights obligations and commitments."
The British Embassy
in Baku today has aslo expressed its concern over Yunus's detention. It posted the following comment on its Facebook page.
"We were concerned to hear reports of Leyla and Arif Yunus having been detained yesterday. Leyla and Arif have worked closely with the British Embassy and we have funded projects run by the Yunus' aimed at supporting a more conducive environment for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."