Eight-million-strong ex-Soviet Azerbaijan is an oil-rich country with a troubling record of human rights abuses. Inconsistent with its self-image of a “tolerant country,” Azerbaijani authorities persecute journalists (and now bloggers), shut down international and independent media outlets and violate other rights.
A number of journalists in Azerbaijan are either in prison (like Eynulla Fatullayev, Ganimat Zahid and Mushfig Huseynov), have suspended sentences or have faced physical attacks. The most famous of the arrested journalists, Fatullayev, is serving an over 10-year conviction. Initially arrested for challenging Azerbaijan’s official account of the 1992 Khojalu massacre of Azeri civilians by Armenian forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, Fatullayev was later convicted of “terrorism” for an article he wrote while serving time in prison. Police reportedly used excessive force to prevent journalists from reporting or filming politically sensitive events such as opposition party rallies in 2008. A less exposed harassment of journalists (and citizens in general) continues in Naxçivan, (also known as Nakhichevan), an exclave of Azerbaijan sandwiched between Armenia and Iran. While Azerbaijan’s persecution of journalists is alarming, the government did pardon satirist Mirza Sakit Zahidov in April 2009.
In addition to persecuting and harassing individuals, Azerbaijan’s authorities have shut down several media outlets, including BBC and Radio Free Europe broadcasts. The move came in conjunction with a constitutional referendum that instituted unlimited presidency in March 2009.
Like neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan is a source and a transit country for human trafficking. Many women and girls are trafficked to Turkey and the UAE for sexual exploitation.
While Azerbaijan’s official media advertise the country as a haven for minorities, both ethnic and religious communities face discrimination. Two prominent members of the ethnic Talysh minority, Dr. Novruzali Mammadov (editor-in-chief of Tolishi sado, meaning Talishi voice) and his colleague Elman Guliyev, were sentenced to 10-year and 6-year imprisonment, respectively, for allegedly spying for neighboring Iran. Mammadov, who according to an Amnesty International official was tried only because of “promotion of the Talysh culture and language in Azerbaijan,” died in a prison hospital of a heart attack on August 17, 2009. Other persecuted minority leaders in Azerbaijan include Baptist pastors Hamid Shabanov and Zaur Balaev.
Less publicized is the violation of ethnic Armenians’ cultural rights manifested in the destruction of their material heritage in Azerbaijan, a delicate issue for rights organizations due to the unsolved conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (Amnesty International does not take a position on the territorial dispute.) Such sensitivity has silenced most international organizations from condemning Azerbaijan’s December 2005 destruction of ancient Armenian tombstones, intricately-carved Christian monuments known as khatchkars, in exclave Naxçivan’s remote Culfa (Djulfa) region.
Thousands of Burundian refugees are under mounting pressure to return to their country where they would be at risk of death, rape and torture, said Amnesty International in a report out today.
International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Compelling new satellite images, video footage and witness accounts analyzed by Amnesty International strongly indicate that dozens of people killed by Burundian security forces in December were later buried in mass graves.
From the streets of Ferguson, Missouri to the favelas of Brazil, the police use of force and firearms makes global headlines when it turns fatal.
Beatings with iron bars and acid burns are among an array of torture techniques used by Burundian security forces to extract “confessions” and silence dissent.
Burundian authorities repressed demonstrations as if they were an insurrection, and now the country appears to be on the verge of conflict, Amnesty International warned in a new report, Braving Bullets – Excessive force in policing demonstrations in Burundi, released today.
This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.
Republic of Burundi Head of state and government Pierre Nkurunziza The cycle of impunity remained unbroken and the government did not fully investigate and prosecute extrajudicial executions from previous years. …
“A Step Backwards” – Torture and other Ill-Treatment by Burundi’s National Intelligence Service
Head of state Pierre Nkurunziza Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 8.3 million Life expectancy 50.1 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 177/155 per 1,000 Adult literacy 59.3 per cent The …