Free Anar Mammadli!

We, representatives of Azerbaijan’s civil society, condemn the Azerbaijani authorities for keeping Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center Director, human rights defender Anar Mammadli in pretrial detention through a December 23 Baku Appeals Court decision. We call for his immediate release.

We are certain that Anar Mammadli incurred the wrath of the Azerbaijan government and was thrown in jail for exposing fraud in this year’s presidential election. We believe Anar Mammadli, who clearly was jailed by the authoritarian regime for his professional activity, is a prisoner of conscience and express our solidarity with him.

We assess Anar Mammadli’s arrest as a full-scale campaign of revenge by the authoritarian Azerbaijani authorities against civil society.

Anar Mammadli is facing criminal prosecution on trumped up charges of illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion solely because of the election monitoring activity he and his organization undertook, with support from foreign donors, during the 2013 presidential elections.

Acting on political orders from the Azerbaijani authorities, Nasimi District Court Judge Rashid Samadov placed Anar Mammadli in pretrial detention for three-months on December 16. In continuation of those political orders, Baku Appellate Court Judge Mirpasha Huseynov upheld the decision of Nasimi District Court on December 23.

Together with Anar Mammadli, two other people – Bashir Suleymanli, executive director of EMDSC, and Elnur Mammadov, chairman of "International Cooperation of Volunteers” Public Union, the partner organization of EMDS in its election monitoring project, are also facing similar charges and have been barred from leaving the country.

Unsatisfied with repressive measures against individual civil society activists, on December 17 the parliament adopted new reactionary legislative amendments that will further restrict NGO activities. During the last five years, Azerbaijani authorities have created numerous bureaucratic obstacles for local civil society organizations and sought to weaken their activities by adopting countless reactionary legislative amendments. Not only local civil society organizations, but also branches of international organizations in Azerbaijan are targeted by the authorities. Activities of the Human Rights House and National Democratic Institute have been paralyzed; several others undergo inspections by various state bodies.

The scenario of post-election repressions in Azerbaijan resembles post-election repressions that took place in Belarus in 2011 and Russia in 2012. In particular, the arrest of Anar Mammadli resembles that of well-known human rights defender Ales Bialiatski in Belarus, and legislative amendments restricting NGO activity resemble those adopted in Russia.

All these repressions have the same goal – to silence those who speak about violations of human rights, fraud, and corruption in the country. Dozens of journalistic investigations in the international and local media have proved that the Azerbaijani economy is monopolized by high-level officials and their family members, and public funds are embezzled by a group of oligarchs. International anti-corruption watchdogs and journalists revealed facts proving that contracts related to the most profitable spheres in the extractive industry are given to relatives of the country’s top officials. 

Investigations have also revealed the illegal flow of billions dollars to offshore zones and other countries via murky schemes. Investigations by local and foreign journalists show that relatives of high-level bureaucrats are engaged in illegal business activities: taking into their hands the most profitable industries by using companies established in offshore zones. However, Azerbaijan’s law enforcement neglects its duty to investigate and prosecute these illegal business activities and tax evasion in the millions of dollars by oligarch businessmen. 

These investigations and reports, as well as the critical assessment of the Presidential elections by local and international organizations, have provoked Azerbaijani authorities’ wrath toward civil society.

The arrest of Anar Mammadli coincided with the eve of the Shahdeniz II gas export investment agreement signing ceremony, a crucial event for Azerbaijan’s economy. New amendments restricting NGO activities were adopted on the day of the event.

We consider this a message by Azerbaijani authorities to the West that although they are signing a new strategic energy deal with the European Union, they do not need European values and human rights.

To support this message, before and after the presidential elections the authorities carried out a number of politically motivated arrests, and jailed dozens of innocent people, including prominent journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, lawyers, youth activists, and members of opposition parties. There are dozens of political prisoners including the chairman of Republican Alternative Movement Ilgar Mammadov, journalists Tofig Yagublu, Avaz Zeynalli, Parviz Hashimli, journalist and human rights defender Hilal Mammadov, youth activists from NIDA and Azad Genjlik organizations, as well as other political and public figures.

The authorities not only jail their opponents, they also created a fertile ground for flourishing corruption and money-laundering by big business empires under the control of high-level bureaucrats by adopting numerous repressive legislative amendments that restrict freedom of information in the country.

No government official has ever declared their assets to the public, although such requirements have been in the law for many years. The declaration of incumbent President Ilham Aliyev, which was obligatory for him to register as a candidate with the Central Election Commission in the presidential elections, has been hidden from the Azerbaijani people.

While corruption and bribery flourish in the country, high-level officials regularly trample over rule of law through the massive violation of citizens’ property rights.

Three fundamental freedoms declared in the Azerbaijani constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights – freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association – are on the verge of extinction.

In recent years, two journalists, Elmar Huseynov and Rafig Tagi, were killed for their professional work, another journalist Novruzali Mammadov died in the prison due to lack of necessary medical assistance; several other journalists have been the targets of unsuccessful murder attempts.  During the last seven years, in almost every quarter we have witnessed the arrest of another journalist, blogger or human rights defender.

The private lives of prominent critical and investigative journalists have been violated and information gathered is used as blackmail by the security services – they are filmed secretly and illegally, and these videos are distributed in the Internet. The broadcasts of all independent local and foreign TV and radio companies have ceased in the country and the broadcast media has been forced to serve the interests of the ruling regime.

The situation with regards to freedom of association has also deteriorated further in recent years. The authorities refuse to register NGOs established by independent activists. Hundreds of NGOs have been denied registration, including EMDSC, led by Anar Mammadli.

In the past ten years we witnessed deterioration of the situation of freedom of assembly.

Azerbaijan, a member state of the United Nations, Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), does not fulfill its own obligations in the field of human rights. The Azerbaijani authorities violate the Constitution, as well as human rights conventions that it has voluntarily joined.

Azerbaijan’s response to the critical assessment of the last presidential elections by the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, as well as widespread crackdown of local election watchdogs before and after the voting day, including the arrest of EMDSC’s chairman, once again shows that the 2013 presidential election was conducted in an atmosphere of serious intolerance by the authorities.

We, the representatives of local civil society organizations, call on the Azerbaijani government to release immediately all political prisoners, including Anar Mammadli, Ilgar Mammadov and others.

We also call on the Azerbaijani government to bring legislation in line with Council of Europe standards in order to ensure fundamental freedoms in the country. We also call on the Azerbaijani government to fulfill commitments it has undertaken within the framework of the UN Convention against Corruption, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Open Government Initiative.

In 2014, from May to October, for six months, Azerbaijan will chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe – one of the main guarantors of human rights in Europe. We believe that in preparation for the chairmanship in such a prominent international organization, Azerbaijan must demonstrate respect for human rights.

Therefore, we call on the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and other bodies of the Council of Europe to react to the unbearable condition of human rights in Azerbaijan. We call on all interested parties in the Council of Europe to address the Azerbaijani authorities and to impose necessary sanctions on them if they do not fulfill their human rights commitments.

We also call on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to demand that the Azerbaijani government stop repressions against human rights, and free victims of these repressions before considering approving the mandate of Azerbaijan’s delegation for the January session.

OSCE Parliamentary leaders and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rightsthe European Commissionmembers of the European Parliament and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, representatives from the United States and Canadian governments, and a number of number of other influential international organizations have recently expressed concern over Anar Mammadli’s arrest and the anti-civil society and anti-human rights legislative changes.

Numerous international human rights organizations have assessed Anar Mammadli’s arrest as political repression, and Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience.

In response to accusations from international organizations, the Azerbaijani authorities justified its repressions in a statement by the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office that called concerns expressed over Mammadli’s case “pressure on Azerbaijan’s independent judiciary.”

We, representatives of Azerbaijan’s civil society, share the concerns of international organizations over the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, and remind the Azerbaijani authorities that human rights issues cannot be considered the internal affairs of any state.  

To this end, we once again call on the international community to undertake all necessary steps to improve the deteriorating human rights situation in Azerbaijan.


List of endorsers of statement on Anar Mammadli


Human rights defenders

1.    Akif Gurbanov, Democratic Initiatives Institute

2.    Alakbar Mammadov, human rights defender

3.    Alovsat Aliyev, Azerbaijan Migration Center

4.    Alovsat Sadigly, Education Research Center Public Union

5.    Annagi Hacibeyli, Azerbaijan Lawyers Association

6.    Arzu Abdullayeva, Helsinki Citizens Assembly - Azerbaijan

7.    Arastun Oruclu, East-West Research Center   

8.    Arif Aliyev, “Yeni Nasil” journalists association  

9.    Asabali Mustafayev, Democracy and Human Rights Resource Center

10.  Aytəkin  Imranova , Islam, Democracy and Human Rights Center

11.  Azer Mehtiyev, Public Union For Economic Initiatives

12.  Avaz Hasanov, Society for Humanitarian Research

13.  Bashir Suleymanli, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center

14.  Dilara Efendiyeva, human rights defender 

15.  Elchin Abdullayev, Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Public Union

16.  Elchin Namazov - Institute for Defense of Rights and Freedoms, chairman

17.  Eldaniz Yusibov, World Union of Azerbaijani Political Immigrants, the Netherlands

18.  Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety

19.  Emin Aslan, Media Rights İnstitute

20.  Elnur Mammadov, Volunteers International Cooperation Public Union

21.  Elshan Hasanov, Public Alliance “Azerbaijan Without Political Prisoners”

22.  Elshan Naghiyev, Center for Citizen Initiatives and Legislation Improvement

23.  Fuad Hasanov, Democracy Monitor

24.  Gulnara Akhundova, Rights advocate

25.  Gunay Huseyn, Democracy and Women's Initiatives social union

26.  Hafiz Hasanov, Law and Development Public Association

27.  Hasan Huseynli "Intelligent Citizen' Enlightenment Center

28.  Ilgar Gasimov, Legal Assistance Public Union

29.  Irada Javadova, Education on Human Rights Public Association

30.  Ilham Huseynli, Democratic Development and Economical Cooperation PU

31.  Intiqam Aliyev, Legal Education Society

32.  Khalid Kazimov, Regional Human Rights and Media Center

33.  Khaled Aghaliyev, Media Rights İnstitute

34.  Lazim Umudov, “Aran Regional Human Rights” Public Union  

35.  Leyla Yunus, Peace and Democracy Institute

36.  Leila Alieva,  Center for National and International Studies

37.  Letafet Malikova, Regional Human Rights and Education Public Association

38.  Maharram Goyushov, Center for Gazakh Regional Development Resources

39.  Matanat Azizova,  Woman Crisis Center

40.  Mehriban Zeynalova, Clean World

41.  Mehemmed Talibli, Economic Innovation Center

42.  Metanet Muslumgizi, Media Rights Center   

43.  Malahat Nasibova, Democracy and NGO's development Resource Cente

44.  Mubariz Tagiyev, Human Rights in Extractive Industries Public Union

45.  Mirvari Gahramanli, Committee to Protect Oil Workers

46.  Mirali Huseynov, “Democracy Learning” Public Union

47.  Novella Jafarova ,   Association for Protection of Women’s Rights, on behalf of D. Aliyeva

48.  Nasrulla Nurullayev, Chairman, Care for the elderly intellectuals

49.  Nasraddin Karamov, “Aran” Ecological Education Public Union

50.  Nicat Imran, Chairman of the Board of Youth Organization “Solidarity”

51.  Ogtay Gulaliyev, Society for Democratic Reforms

52.  Rafik Tamrazov, Center of Equal Opportunities

53.  Rashid Hacili, Media Rights Institute 

54.  Rasul Jafarov, Human Rights Club

55.  Ruhangiz Huseynova, “Solidarity Among Women” SU

56.  Saadet Bananyarli,  Azerbaijan Section of the International Organization on Human Rights

57.  Saida Gojamanli,  Azerbaijan Bureau on Human Rights and Law

58.  Sevil Yuzbasheva, Eco World public union

59.  Sevil Allahverdiyeva , Center of Women’s Problems Research CWPR

60.  Solmaz Mehdiyeva, Human Rights Resource Center on Guba-Khachmaz regions

61.  Shahin Hajiyev, Najaf Najafov Fund

62.  Shaban Nasirov, Human Rights – 2003 Public Union

63.  Shahla Ismayil, Women's Association for Rational Development

64.  Shukur Izzatoglu, PU Regional Centre for Human Rights and Social Studies

65.  Vidadi Isgenderli, human rights defender

66.  Ziya Guliyev, Chairman of Center for Legal Initiatives

67.  Zohrab Ismayil, Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy



68.  Alasgar Mammadli, independent lawyer

69.  Aslan Ismayilov, lawyer

70.  Asima Nasirli, lawyer

71.  Elchin Sadigov, lawyer

72.  Eldeniz Vahidbeyli, lawyer

73.  Fariz Namazli, lawyer

74.  Gunay Ismayilova, lawyer

75.  Khalid Bagirov, lawyer

76.  Khalisa Shahverdi, Lawyer

77.  Leyla Madatli, lawyer

78.  Muzaffar Bahkishov, lawyer

79.  Namizad Safarov, lawyer

80.  Nemat Karimli, lawyer

81.  Rosvhana Rahimova, lawyer

82.  Sadiga Mehdizade, lawyer

83.  Yalchin Imanov, lawyer

84.  Yashar Aghazade, lawyer

85.  Zibeyda Sadigova, lawyer


Journalists/ Media

86.    Aynur Imranova, freelance journalist

87.    Ayten Mammadova, journalist

88.    Elchin Mammad, editor-in-chief of “Yuksalish Namina” newspaper

89.    Elnur Astanbayli, journalist

90.    Emin Milli ,  Meydan TV director

91.    Ganimat Zahid, editor-in-chief of Azadlig newspaper

92.    Idrak Abbasov, journalist

93.    Jahangir Youssouf - Photojournalist

94.     Kamran Mahmudov, journalist

95.     Kamila Maharramli-journalist

96.     Khadija Ismayil, journalist

97.     Mahammad Turkman, journalist

98.     Mehman Aliyev, Turan Agency

99.     Mehman Huseynov, photo and video reporter

100.    Nijat Kamal, journalist

101.    Rahim Hajiyev, first deputy editor-in-chief of “Azadlig” newspaper

102.    Rovshan Hajiyev, journalist

103.    Samir Kazimli, journalist

104.    Shahvalad Chobanoglu, journalist

105.    Tahmina Tagizade, Baku coordinator of Meydan TV

106.    Tural Mustafayev, freelance Reporter

107.    Turkan Huseynova, microblogger

108.    Ulviyya Asadzade, journalist

109.    Zahir Amanov, “Janub Khabarlari” newspaper

110.    Zamin Haji, journalist



111.    Ali Karimli , Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman

112.    Altay Goyushov

113.    Arif Yunusov, conflictologist

114.    Azer Ismayil, Sabirabad regional branch of Musavat Party

115.    Azer Gasimli, political analyst

116.    Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, youth activist

117.    Beybala Ebil,  Chairman of the council of CPFP, member of the National Council

118.    Ehed Memmedli

119.    Elchin Hasanov

120.    Eldar Namazov, chairman of El Movement

121.    Erkin Gadirli, board member of Republican Alternative (ReAl) Movement

122.    Gultakin Hajibayli, Committee on International Relations of the National Council

123.    Hikmat Hajizade, political expert

124.    Isa Gambar, Musavat Party chairman

125.    Jamil Hasanli, Chairman of the National Council

126.    Javid Hajibayli, Musavat Party

127.    Kanan Gasimli, Member of N!DA Civic Movement

128.    Khazar Teyyublu, founder of the website, member of the National Council

129.    Mehriban Vazir

130.    Mirmahmud Miralioglu, chairman of the Classical Popular Front Party (CPFP)

131.    Nargiz Yagublu, deputy chairman of Musavat Party’s Youth Organization

132.    Narmin Rahimli, activist

133.    Natiq Adilov, Azerbaijan Popular Front Party

134.    Natig Jafarli, Executive Secretary of REAL Movement

135.    Punhan Imamli, chairman of Youth Organization of Citizens’ Solidarity Party

136.    Rashad Shirin, Political Analyst

137.    Samir Asadli, Central Executive Apparatus of the Civic Solidarity Party

138.    Sulhaddin Akbar, chairman of the Open Society Party

139.    Tural Abbasli, board member of Musavat Party

140.    Tural Huseynli

141.    Turgut Gambar, Board member of N!DA Civic Movement

142.    Ulvi Hasanli, Board member of N!DA Civic Movement

143.    Vidadi Mirkamal, chairman of the Legal Committee of the National Council

144.    Yegana Hajibekova National Council member


Others Public Figures

145.    Aytekin Huseynli

146.    Bahar Haji-zade

147.    Elmir Mirzayev

148.    Gunay Gasimova

149.    Gunay Ismayilova

150.    Gunay Rzayeva

151.    Gulchin Seyidova

152.    Islam Sarvaroglu

153.    Jahangir Alibayzade

154.    Mammad Mammadzada

155.    Murad Hasanli

156.    Nazli Agayeva

157.    Naila Aliyeva

158.    Nigar Fatali

159.    Rasim Karaja

160.    Rovshan Agayev

161.    Sadig Fataliyev

162.    Samira Ahmadbayli

163.    Sevda Safaraliyeva

164.    Shahla Sultanova

165.    Shahla Aliguliyeva

166.    Tatyana Kryuchkina

167.    Vafa Subhani