Lawyer in Azerbaijan Must Be Released From Prison After Exposing Government Corruption

Target: Fikrat Mammadov, Minister of Justice.

Goal: To obtain the release of a human rights lawyer imprisoned for exposing government corruption.

A human rights lawyer in Azerbaijan has been sentenced to eight years in prison on extortion charges. Bakhtiyar Mammadov was accused of threatening to expose documents implicating a naval officer in misappropriation unless he paid Mr. Mammadov over 20,000 U.S. dollars. He has denied all charges. It seems that his prosecution and conviction were politically motivated as he was investigating government fraud surrounding the evictions of families from homes in the way of a new arena. Mr. Mammadov should be immediately and unconditionally released until an independent investigation can be conducted into the charges.

Bakhtiyar Mammadov represented several residents who were evicted from their homes in the capital city of Baku. Their homes were demolished in order to make way for a concert hall to be used for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Mr. Mammadov’s clients were challenging the amount of money they were compensated for their troubles. During his investigation into the compensation given the families, Mr. Mammadov found that around two million U.S. dollars were allocated to the eviction process but only a fraction made its way into the hands of the evicted families. He was arrested shortly after his report was published in the newspapers of the political minority in Azerbaijan.

The only crime that was committed by Bakhtiyar Mammadov was that he implicated a member of the government in a legitimate crime. It seems that the payoff for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is much more pressing than ensuring the freedom of press. By exposing those behind the corruption, Mr. Mammadov was attempting to correct an abuse of human rights. The response of the Azerbaijani government was to smash his case against them. Mr. Mammadov must be released immediately or international sanctions must be levied against the country. Sign this petition to demand action.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Fikrat Mammadov,

The imprisonment of human rights activist, Bakhtiyar Mammadov, on charges of extortion is ludicrous. By placing the arena for the Eurovision Song Contest ahead of the rights of your people should be a mark of shame. Mr. Mammadov must be immediately released until an independent investigation into the charges against him can be conducted.

This conviction is just one in a line of politically motivated prosecutions in your country. By releasing Mr. Mammadov you may begin to change the international perception of the government in Azerbaijan. I ask that you do so for the sake of your people.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: rafiqsv via Deviant Art

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