Target: President Ilham Aliyev, president Azerbaijan
Goal: Demand the release of human rights activists in Azerbaijan
Tofig Yagublu and Ilgar Mammadov are two political activists and human rights advocates who have been imprisoned on false chargers for over a year in Azerbaijan. They were arrested after observing and reporting on riots in Ismayili in northern Azerbaijan. Even though they did not incite any violence and were not active participants in the riot, they were arrested on trumped up charges and have been detained for over a year without being formally tried in a court of law. Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev is in a unique position of power to release these peaceful activists and to revise policies in his country that violate human rights.
According to Denis Krivosheev of Amnesty International, “The authorities in Azerbaijan seem to stop at nothing to crush dissent. All Tofig and Ilgar did was visit Ismayili to observe and report on these events. They are being punished simply as critics of the government.” Azerbaijan has a history of human rights abuses and suppression of political dissent. Recent elections in the country have been hotly contested as corrupt and the results categorized in the media as highly questionable. A ban on opposition gatherings was ostensibly lifted in 2005, but according to the organization Human Rights Watch, “Azerbaijan’s record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association has been on a steady decline for some years, but it has seen a dramatic deterioration since mid-2012.” Police brutality and the torture of political prisoners are rampant. As in the case of Yagublu and Mammadov, freedom of the press is frequently squashed and journalists who report on political dissent arrested.
If convicted, Yagublu, a journalist and opposition party leader, and Mammadov, an opposition organization leader, could face 12 years in prison. However, given that they have already been held for a year without trial that sentence could be made to drag on for decades. The riot they attended was incited after authorities ignored the assault on a local man by the nephew of the region’s governor. There are currently 17 other political prisoners in Azerbaijan whose crimes are nothing more than the peaceful exercise of their right to free speech.
These blatant human rights violations cannot continue to occur. Sign the petition to tell the President of Azerbaijan that further violations will not be tolerated and justice must be served.
Dear President Ilham Aliyev,
Tofig Yagublu and Ilgar Mammadov’s only crime has been the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression. International human rights organizations maintain that they incited no violence and were mere observers and reporters of the riot in Ismayili a year ago. Their imprisonment is a violation of their civil liberties and a shame on Azerbaijan.
I am urging you today to release these two political activists and to revise policies in Azerbaijan that violate the civil rights of those expressing political dissent.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Vago via wikimedia commons