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2024, 25 İyul, Cümə axşamı, Bakı vaxtı 10:16

Arif Yunus, More Restrictions For NGOs, Arrests and Torture: Azerbaijan Brief

Azerbaijan -- Baku. Jailed Azerbaijani Activist Arif Yunus Released From Jail, But Can't Leave Baku - Arif Yunus talked to RFE/RL Azeri Service, 12 November 2015
Azerbaijan -- Baku. Jailed Azerbaijani Activist Arif Yunus Released From Jail, But Can't Leave Baku - Arif Yunus talked to RFE/RL Azeri Service, 12 November 2015

Ministry of National Security and more dismissals

Following the Minister of National Security it was now his deputy’s turn as he was officially dismissed from his post on the orders of President Aliyev.

Prosecutor upholds the verdict in the case Jamil Hasanl's daugther

On November 13, The prosecutor sought to uphold the verdict of Jamil Hasanli’s daughter despite the violations in the course of the investigation. According to Azerbaijan’s laws, the same expert cannot comment or give his/her opinion twice in the same case. And yet, Jeyhun Allahverdiyev gave his opinion on the case of Gunel Hasanli during the the preliminary investigation and in a court-appointed examination. “We asked for a repeat examination not finding Allahverdiyev’s decision objective and the court granted us this permission. In both examinations Allahverdiyev refers to x-ray results but there are no x-ray results. We had no idea it was going to be the same person. Had we known we would have objected earlier”, said Hasanli’s lawyer Adil Ismayilov.

In the meantime, the victim, Adila Salimova requested that the case is closed and Gunel Hasanli is released. “I beg you, I am an old person, please consider my request”, said Salimova during the hearing.

The prosecutor upheld the decision.

New report by Forum 18 highlights torture and arrest of prisoners of conscience

On November 12, Forum 18 in its new report on Azerbaijan highlighted police torture and arrest of new prisoners of conscience.

Tougther regulations for Azerbaijani NGOs

In a worrying development, the Cabinet of Minister in Azerbaijan decided that from now on, all non-governmental organizations will have to inform the Ministry of Justice on any donations received as well as the names of individuals giving these donations.

Only donations up to 200AZN will be accepted in cash while any bigger amount will have to be transferred to the NGO’s bank account.

International response to Arif Yunus release

The release of Arif Yunus, 60, on health grounds was welcomed by many. First and foremost, the couple’s daugther Dinara Yunus who has been engaged in international ladvocacy calling for her parents’ immediate release.

While Yunus is barred from leaving the country he woved to continue fighting for his wife’s release. In an interview with AzadliqRadiosu, Yunus said, “my tongue is my strongest weapon”.

A number of itnernational institutions, inclduing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe welcomed his release.

“I welcome the release of Arif Yunus on humanitarian grounds and hope that more prisoners will be released soon and esepcially those whose health condition is a matter of serious concern”, said the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur following the release.

“The United States views today’s decision by the Baku Court of Appeals to transfer peace activist and historian Arif Yunus from prison to house arrest on humanitarian grounds as a positive step”, said the U.S. Department of State statement.

The EU Spokesperson too welcomed the decision and called it a humanitarian gesture expressing hope for similar steps to follow.

Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland too welcomed the release while Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, “further steps will soon follow. This especially applies to Yunusov’s wife Leyla, who is likewise serving a prison sentence. Her state of health is also a cause for great concern and she urgently needs to have an operation. The Federal Government will continue to carefully follow the court proceedings against the Yunus couple as well as the trials of other human rights defenders in prison in Azerbaijan.”

Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human rights (ODIHR), too welcomed the decision to release Arif Yunus also expressing hopes for a similar decision for his wife Leyla yunus.

Rights organizations too applauded the release of Yunus. Freedom Now an American organization welcomed the release of Arif Yunus. “We applaud today’s decision by the Baku Court of Appeal to transfer Arif to house arrest and we hope the same is done for Leyla”, said Freeom Now’s Executive Director Maran Turner in a statement release shortly after Arif Yunus release.

In a statement issued by the members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, the group noted the existing legal proceedings against the couple despite Arif Yunus release and that the trumped-up charges against the couple must be dropped.

Arif Yunus was sentenced to seven years in prison in August, convicted of fraud and tax evasion in August of this year.