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Local human rights defender detained in Azerbaijan. He, like his Belarusian colleagues, is accused of "smuggling"

2024 2024-05-02T12:40:26+0300 2024-05-02T12:41:03+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On April 29, the head of the Center for Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies (EMDS) and a member of Human Rights House, Anar Mammadli, was detained in Azerbaijan. It is reported that in Baku he was pushed into a car, detained, and now accused of "smuggling by a group of people." Recall that four Viasna human rights defenders, Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich, and Zmitser Salauyou, were convicted on the same charge.

Анар Мамедлі, Міклаш Харасці і Алесь Бяляцкі падчас форуму НДА у Мінску
Anar Mammadli, Miklós Harasti, and Ales Bialiatski during the NGO forum in Minsk in 2017

It is reported that the detention of Anar Mammadli followed a targeted smear campaign against him by state media and is retaliation for his crucial independent election observation activities.

Being a former political prisoner himself, he publicly supported all political prisoners, including our Belarusian colleagues behind bars. On March 2, 2023, he signed an appeal on the eve of sentencing in Viasna case. The Azerbaijani human rights defender appealed to the Belarusian authorities to release all Belarusian political prisoners, including Viasna human rights defenders.

Anar Mammadli was arrested and imprisoned after openly criticizing the presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2013. After almost two and a half years in prison, Anar was pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan along with other well-known political prisoners.

In 2017, Anar attended the OSCE Parallel Civil Society in Minsk and gave a large interview to Viasna.

Anar Mammadli: “While Belarusian government still wants to imitate democracy, in Azerbaijan it has already finished imitation”

Comparing the situation in Belarus and Azerbaijan, it can be noted that the authorities of both countries exchange experience of harassment of civil society activists. In particular, we periodically have to watch the waves of persecution of human rights defenders in the two ex-Soviet countries.

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