Target: President Ilham Aliyev
Goal: Obtain fair trials for activists imprisoned on false drug charges.
Authorities in Azerbaijan routinely use false drug possession charges in order to detain political activists who speak out about the government. The authorities in Azerbaijan and international regulators should conduct investigations into allegations of ill treatment of these activists while in prison as well as investigations into the charges themselves.
The aftermath of the so called “Arab Spring” in 2011 has intensified government crackdowns on those who speak out against the government. Over the last two years, security forces have arrested dozens of activists, journalists and human rights defenders on questionable or no evidence and accused them of drug or weapon possession, hooliganism or public disorder. A majority of these arrests, however, were made on drug charges.
Recently, a blogger named Rashad Ramazanov was arrested for speaking out against the government on Facebook. Police claimed they found small amounts of narcotics on his person following arrest. A lawyer was not present during the search and his lawyer and family was not able to reach him for several days after his arrest. The denial off access to a lawyer is a violation of the International Covernant on Civil and Political Rights. Ill-treatment in detention is also prohibited under this treaty that Azerbaijan is party to.
Azerbaijan must immediately discontinue this practice of using bogus drug charges in order to arrest political activists. There are too many cases of human rights activists and anti-government protestors being arrested in this manner for it to be mere coincidence. Sign this petition and demand that those that have been arrested be given new trials and immediate access to a lawyer.
Dear President Ilham Aliyev,
The numerous arrests of human rights defenders on drug charges in your country are disturbing. Using the cover of this minor crime to lock up activists for months without trial or without access to a lawyer is reprehensible and a violation of their basic human rights. I ask that you immediately and unconditionally release those arrested on such charges and allow them a new and fair trial that adheres to international regulations that you have previously agreed to.
Violations of human rights will bring sanctions against your government by the international community. Denying freedom of speech by imprisoning those that speak against you is a major violation of human rights. I ask you to please allow these people to continue their work of making Azerbaijan a better place to live.
[Your Name Here]