Azerbaijan is following steps of Belarusian regime
The closure of the OSCE office in Baku, the ban on entry into the country of foreign journalists and international human rights defenders - the latest news from Azerbaijan remind the "inhospitable" policy of Lukashenka during the elections of 2010 and last year's World Hockey Championship.
On the eve of European Games I, starting in Baku on June 12, and the parliamentary elections to be held in November this year, the Azerbaijani authorities are doing their best to stifle criticism of the international community by exerting a hard pressure on the civil society.
In the morning of June 10, the British journalist Emma Hughes, accredited to cover the European Games, was deported from Azerbaijan. "Caucasian Knot" was informed about it by the British Embassy in Baku, and were advised to ask all questions to the Azerbaijani side. The journalists didn't mange to receive any comments from the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan.
"The detention of Emma at the Baku airport is outrageous. The Azerbaijani authorities spend a fortune for the promotion of European Games and invited the whole world to take part in them. It shows once again that, despite the attempts to promote a positive image of the country abroad, there is a more sinister truth behind glitter and glamor. The ruling regime has something to hide when it comes to the country's human rights record," commented Rebecca Vincent, coordinator of the platform" Sport for Rights", whose member Emma Hughes is.
As stated today by Amnesty International, the Azerbaijani authorities barred its representatives o the country who were to have launched the briefing Azerbaijan: the Repression Games. The voices you won’t hear at the first European Games. The briefing was canceled after communication was received late yesterday afternoon from the Azerbaijan Embassy in London stating that “Azerbaijan is not in a position to welcome the Amnesty mission to Baku at the present time” and suggesting that any visit should be postponed until after the Games.
“It is deeply ironic that the launch of a briefing outlining how critical voices in the country have been systematically silenced ahead of the European Games cannot be held. But rather than bury this message, the actions of the authorities have only highlighted their desperate attempts to create a criticism-free zone around the Games,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
Azerbaijani experts also regard the closure of the OSCE in Baku (whose main directions of activity were democracy, human rights, elections and the settlement of the armed conflict in Karabakh)
as a response of the authorities to the critique on the part of foreign officials and international human rights organizations.
On July 6, the local media reported that according to the Azerbaijani MFA the OSCE was given one month for resolving technical issues regarding the termination of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Project Coordinator Office in Baku (in 2013, the status of the OSCE office was downgraded from the Embassy to the office of the project coordinator, on the initiative of the Government of Azerbaijan). The MFA offered no explanations for such step of the authorities. At the OSCE office in Vienna a journalist of the “Caucasian Knot” was also confirmed the existence of a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan on the termination of office in Baku. The web edition reminds that the OSCE criticized the re-election of President Ilham Aliyev for the third successive term in 2013, as well as the persecution of representatives of independent media and media NGOs and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.
Let us remind that the closure of the OSCE office in Minsk in 2011 was a response of the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka to the unified position of the EU and US in the assessment of the fraud of the presidential election in 2010 and their tough reaction to the repression that followed the events of December 19 in Minsk. On the eve of and during the Ice Hockey World Championship, which was held in Minsk on May 9-25 May, 2014, the Belarusian authorities were actively getting rid of anyone who was willing to speak out against the appalling human rights situation in Belarus, resorting to arbitrary preventive detention of public activists and denying the entry to the country of critically minded foreign human rights activists, politicians and journalists.