Free Hasan Huseynli!

Civil society of Azerbaijan strongly condemns the detention on fabricated charges of the head of the "Intelligent Citizen" Awareness Center Hasan Huseynli and calls for his immediate release.

Mr. Huseynli, 57 years old, was detained on 31 March at around 18:00, as a suspect on charge of hooliganism for allegedly stabbing another person.

Working in the second largest city of Azerbaijan, Gandja, Hasan Huseynli is the most well-known and active member of Azerbaijani civil society in the western region of the country.

As the head of the "Intelligent Citizen" Enlightenment Center, established in 2004, Huseynli has been known for promotion of open society, human rights and democracy ideas in the western part of Azerbaijan and implementation of programs on enlightenment of the youth and their participation in study abroad programs. With support of donors such as USAID, Peace Corps,  Baku Education Information Center, Open Society Institute, European Commission, British Embassy, SILBA, ALDA, Visegrad, Robert Bosch Foundation and so on, the "Intelligent Citizen" Awareness Center has carried out more than 20 successful projects.

The local governor has waged pressure campaign against  the "Intelligent Citizen" Awareness Center and its director Hasan Huseynli in the recent years. Throughout Azerbaijan, the NGOs increasingly face multiple challenges implementing their work, working with local people and even holding conferences, seminars or trainings in closed places.

Despite of such illegal bans, the "Intelligent Citizen" Awareness Center has served as a resource center for fellow NGOs from the capital and other regions of Azerbaijan, supporting implementation of their projects. That is why it has become the target of the local authorities.

Huseynli's case bears striking similarity to that of  journalists Ganimat Zahid and Serdar Alibayli, activist Yadigar Sadigov and bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade who were arrested on the false hooliganism charges.

We consider Hasan Huseynli's detention to be part of a larger clampdown on civil society in the wake of presidential election. This crackdown was kicked off in November 2013 with legal actions against Anar Mammadli, head of the Azerbaijani election watchdog Elections Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, and excessive tightening of NGO legislation. The politically-motivated sentencing of two other activists, Ilgar Mammadov and Tofig Yagublu, to 7 and 5 years in jail respectively is yet another evidence of the crackdown.

Detention of NGO leaders on false charges and the rise in persecutions following the draconian NGO amendments represent violation of the Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and of association) and the obligations of Azerbaijan undertaken before the Council of Europe.

Coming less than two month to go before Azerbaijan's assumes its first Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, this arrest once again demonstrates Azerbaijan's reluctance to protect fundamental rights and freedoms.

We call on the Azerbaijani government to free our colleague Hasan Huseynli and the civil society activists detained or convicted on trumped-up charges, to respect human rights values and duly fulfill its international human rights obligations and commitments.

 
Undersigned:
 

  1. Akif Gurbanov, Democratic Initiatives Institute
  2. Arzu Abdullayeva, Helsinki Citizens Assembly - Azerbaijan
  3. Asabali Mustafayev, Democracy and Human Rights Resource Center
  4. Aytəkin  Imranova, Islam, Democracy and Human Rights Center
  5. Anar Orujov, Caucasus Media Investigations Center
  6. Aslan Ismayilov, lawyer
  7. Azer Mehtiyev, Public Union For Economic Initiatives
  8. Avaz Hasanov, Society for Humanitarian Research
  9. Aynur Bashirova, Media expert
  10. Aynur Imranova, Support for Development of Democracy and Media      
  11. Bashir Suleymanli, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
  12. Elchin Abdullayev, Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Public Union
  13. Elchin Mammad, Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth
  14. Elchin Hasanov, Rights advocate
  15. Elman Abbasov, Rights advocate
  16. Elnur Malikov, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
  17. Eldeniz Vahidbeyli, lawyer
  18. Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
  19. Fuad Hasanov, Democracy Monitor
  20. Gulnara Akhundova, Rights advocate
  21. Gubad Ibadoglu, Economic Researches Center
  22. Hafiz Hasanov, Law and Development Public Association
  23. Jasur Mammadov, Doctrine Journalists’ Military Research Center
  24. Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, Rights advocate
  25. Intigam Aliyev, Legal Education Society
  26. Vugar Bayramov, Center for Economic and Social Development
  27. Khalid Kazimov, Regional Human Rights and Media Center
  28. Leila Alieva,  Center for National and International Studies
  29. Letafet Malikova, Regional Human Rights and Education Public Association
  30. Matanat Azizova,  Woman Crisis Center
  31. Mehriban Zeynalova, Clean World
  32. Mubariz Tagiyev, Human Rights in Extractive Industries Public Union
  33. Novella Jafarova,   Association for Protection of Women’s Rights, on behalf of D. Aliyeva
  34. Nasrulla Nurullayev, Chairman, Care for the elderly intellectuals
  35. Rafik Tamrazov, Center of Equal Opportunities
  36. Rashid Hacili, Media Rights Institute 
  37. Rashad Shirin, Political Analyst
  38. Rasul Jafarov, Legal Protection and Awareness Society
  39. Ruhangiz Huseynova, Solidarity Among Women
  40. Rovshan Agayev, Center Support for Economic initiatives
  41. Saadet Bananyarli,  Azerbaijan Section of the International Organization on Human Rights
  42. Sabit Bagirov, Entrepreneurship Development Foundation
  43. Saida Gojamanli,  Azerbaijan Bureau on Human Rights and Law
  44. Samir Aliyev, Center For Support For Economic Initiatives
  45. Shahin Hajiyev, Najaf Najafov Fund
  46. Shahla Ismayil, Women's Association for Rational Development
  47. Shahin Nasrullayev, Rights advocate
  48. Farman Nabiyev, Mingechevir Media Center
  49. Ziya Guliyev, Center for Legal Initiatives
  50. Zohrab Ismayil, Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy

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