Home > News > World
Tuesday August 5, 2014 MYT 8:41:29 AM
Tuesday August 5, 2014 MYT 8:43:05 AM
by nailia bagirova AND margarita antidze
BAKU (Reuters) - Amnesty International said on Monday it considered Rasul Jafarov, a prominent human rights activist in Azerbaijan, who had been arrested last week, a prisoner of conscience.
Rasul Jafarov, a founder of the Baku-based Human Rights Club (HRC) in Azerbaijan, was arrested on Saturday and sentenced to three months pre-trial detention on charges of tax evasion, illegal business and abuse of authority in a case critics say highlights a government crackdown on dissent in the former Soviet republic.
Mainly Muslim Azerbaijan has been governed by President Ilham Aliyev since he succeeded his father in 2003 and courted by the West because of its role as an alternative to Russia in supplying oil and gas to Europe.
Rights groups accuse the government of muzzling dissent and jailing opponents, charges it denies.
"Rasul Jafarov ... has been deprived of freedom in connection with his attempts to exercise his right to freedom of expression and association," Amnesty International said in a statement.
The human rights watchdog said that restrictions for operation of pro-democracy nongovernmental organisations (NGO) in Azerbaijan left their leaders with no choice but to operate outside the strict legal framework, which was later used by the authorities as a pretext for their criminal prosecution.
"Jafarov is the fifth person to be prosecuted on these grounds in the last four months. Amnesty International considers Rasul Jafarov to be a prisoner of conscience."
Azerbaijan imposed restrictions on civil society in 2009 that include banning NGOs from receiving more than 50 percent funding from abroad, requiring them to register with the state, and prohibiting activities of foreign NGOs unless based on a "relevant international agreement."
Jafarov's arrest follows a detention of another prominent human rights activist and the head of the Baku-based Institute for Peace and Democracy Leyla Yunus last week on suspicion of treason, espionage and tax evasion.
(Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Azerbaijan detains rights activist accused of espionage
European human rights body says concerned about abuses in Azerbaijan
Bahrain court grants bail to activist - Amnesty
Europe wants actions from Azerbaijan on human rights
U.S. expresses concern on Sri Lanka's arrest of rights activists
Protests spread across U.S., more troops deployed to prevent fresh Ferguson riots
Hong Kong student leaders arrested as police clear protest site
Russia's new push for Syria dialogue unlikely to be fruitful
Buckwheat problem gives Putin food for thought
Flournoy withdraws from consideration as U.S. defence secretary - sources
Spain urges Cuba to grant free travel to dissidents
Smartphones driving web connections in Latin America
McIlroy has Georgia on his mind Down Under
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)