Oslo – The dream of a Europe without political prisoners and the grim reality of Azerbaijan

12 November 2014
Bjorn Engesland with relatives of the winners of the Sakharov Freedom Award. Photo NHC
Bjorn Engesland with relatives of the winners of the Sakharov Freedom Award. Photo NHC

ESI's Gerald Knaus participated in the awarding ceremony of the Sakharov Freedom Award 2014 organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in Oslo. This year's prize was awarded to political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The authorities in oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan have for years brutally silenced their critics by accusing them of fictive crimes and then sentencing them to lengthy prison terms. More than 90 political prisoners have been identified in the country by local human rights activists, by applying the Council of Europe's criteria. Among these prisoners, we find some of the most knowledgeable, experienced and vocal human rights defenders, journalists, youth activists and opposition politicians. Civil society in Azerbaijan is being crushed.

On 12 September Gerald spoke at a public seminar discussing the grim facts of imprisonment on political grounds in Azerbaijan, a vision for a Europe without political prisoners and possible responses.

Presentation by Gerald Knaus on corruption in the Council of Europe (September 2017). Video: Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation

Welcome. Bjørn Engesland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

The end of shame? Azerbaijan, the Council of Europe and the capture of Europe.  Gerald Knaus, Director of the European Stability Initiative, Germany. Author of 'Caviar Diplomacy', about the activities of the Council of Europe Parliamentary assembly (PACE).

The Ilham Aliyev regime and the powers that made it possible. Leyla Alieva, director of the National and International Studies Center, Georgia/Azerbaijan.

Soviet Union - Council of Europe - Soviet Union 2.0 - all in one life Emin Milli, editor Maydan TV (in exile) served a 2.5 years sentence for blog posts critical of the government of Azerbaijan.

Panel discussion: Why are we so inefficient in countering the wave of arrests in Azerbaijan and what can be done? 

  • Geir Jørgen Bekkevold, Norwegian MP (KrF), head of OSCE/PA delegation
  • Steinar Gil, Former Norwegian Ambassador to Azerbaijan
  • Vugar Gojayev, Expert
  • Berit Lindeman, Head of information, Norwegian Helsinki Committee (moderator)

Video presentations from the event by
Bjørn Engesland, Gerald Knaus, Leyla Alieva, and Emin Milli

Gerald Knaus. Video NHC
Belarus Dissident Ales Bialiatski. Photo NHC
Belarus Dissident Ales Bialiatski. Photo NHC
Audience. Photo NHC
Audience. Photo NHC
"No More Business As Usual for Azerbaijan". Video: Civic Solidarity