21 April 2015
Strasbourg ESI advocacy on Azerbaijan at the Council of Europe
Political prisoners in Azerbaijan: Khadija Ismayilova  Leyla Yunus  Rasul Jafarov
Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, Berit Lindeman (Norwegian Helsinki Committee), PACE Member Pieter Omzigt, Dinara Yunus, Alexandra Stiglmayer

ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer spoke at an event on Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan during the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

In view of grave human rights violations in Azerbaijan, which include the imprisonment of more than 90 human rights defenders and dissidents, and recent verdicts imposing long prison sentences on them, she advocated:

  • The termination of "figleaf activities" by Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland and the secretariat, which include support for a Joint Working Group with Azerbaijani authorities on human rights; as well as his support for an 2014-2016 action plan on human rights in Azerbaijan. Since this action plan was adopted the crack down and arrests has only intensified;
  • The termination of the mandates of the PACE co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan Tadeusz Iwinski and Pedro Agramunt, who have consistently displayed pro-Azerbaijan bias;
  • The establishment of an independent expert commission on political prisoners in Azerbaijan as existed between 2001 and 2004, which would report to the Secretary-General, CoE member states and PACE; and
  • The refusal to send a PACE election observation mission to the parliamentary elections in the autumn as no election in Azerbaijan has been free and fair since the country joined the CoE, and as all opposition has been eradicated in the recent crackdown.

Alexandra met Nils Muizniecks, Commissioner for Human Rights; Alexandre Guessel, the Secretary-General's Special Representative on the Azerbaijani Joint Working Group on Human Rights; officials from Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK; PACE rapporteurs on Azerbaijan Tadeusz Iwinki and Pedro Agramunt; Jonas Gunnarsson, the head of the Swedish PACE delegation, and PACE member Tiny Cox.

She was in Strasbourg as part of a group that included the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the International Federation for Human Rights and Forum 18. Together, they organised a side event under the title: "For a Europe without political prisoners: The case of Azerbaijan".

Alexandra Stiglmayer
Alexandra Stiglmayer
Niels Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Niels Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Dinara Yunus, the daughter of imprisoned human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus
Dinara Yunus, the daughter of imprisoned human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus
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Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

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Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com