2017: Azerbaijan: Rashad Ramazanov

The Azerbaijani writer and blogger Rashad Ramazanov has been moved into solitary confinement . Mr. Ramazanov was charge with possession of drugs, however, PEN believes his detention is politically motivated and connected to mr. Ramazanov’s anti-government writing.

Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Barnhusgatan 3
SE-11 23 Stockholm
azerembassy@gmail.com

Oslo, 31.01.2017

 

Your Excellences,

Norwegian PEN is deeply concerned about the health and well-being of writer and blogger Rashad Ramazanov, who has been moved into solitary confinement at Baku Prison #2, where he is serving a nine-year sentence for his anti-government writings. Ramazanov suffer from several medical problems, and there is now serious concerns for his well-being and physical integrity. He is also being denied family visits and access to his lawyer.

Azerbaijan has its obligations under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the right to freedom of expression.

PEN protest the detention of Ramazanov on politically motivated charges, and call on the Azerbaijan authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally and to overturn his conviction and sentence.

 

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

 

 

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2014 Azerbaijan: Khajida Ismayilova

Writers in Prison Committee

To

President Ilham Aliyev Istiglaliyyat Street 19
1666  Baku
Republic of Azerbaijan

Oslo, November 10th

Your Excellency President Ilham Aliyev,

 

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned at the continued pre-trial detention of investigative journalist, Khajida Ismayilova. We have reason to believe that the detention is politically motivated, and Khajida should therefore be let free of any charges.

 

We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally and to drop the charge of inciting an attempted suicide.

We call on Azerbaijan to comply with its obligations under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Azerbaijan is a state party) to protect the right to freedom of expression and cease its campaign of intimidation directed at opposition or critical voices.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee PEN Norway

 

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN, Wergelandsveien 29, N-0167 Oslo, Norway * Tlf: +47 22607450 * E-post: pens /norskpen.no * www.norskpen.no                                                                              

 

Norwegian PEN * Norwegian Association of Literary Translators * Norwegian Authors’ Union * Norwegian Non-fiction Writers And

Translators Association * Norwegian Writers for Children

2010: Azerbaijan: Eynulla Fatullayev

Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066
Azerbaijan

Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7, 370005 Baku
Azerbaijan

12. October 2010

 

Your Excellencies,

Eynulla Fatullayev Convicted on Drugs Charge as Baku Continues to Defy European Court of Human Rights’ Release Ruling

Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) urges Azerbaijan to comply immediately with the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that the Azeri journalist Eynulla Fatullayev be released from prison. Fatullayev remains in prison five months after the European Court ruled unanimously that he had been convicted on charges contrary to his right to freedom of expression and that he should be freed and compensated for his detention. International PEN and other human rights monitors consider him imprisoned because of his history of human rights reporting. The WiPC is also deeply concerned by Fatullayev’s recent conviction and sentencing to an extra two and a half years’ imprisonment for possession of drugs, a charge that international human rights observers consider fabricated.

 

Yours sincerely

Annaguli Yildam,
Member of Norwegian PEN, WiPC

Baku airport: Illegal confiscation of documentary footage from Norwegian filmmaker Erling Borgen

May 11, 2010.

To whom it may concern:

Norwegian PEN, The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Human Rights House Foundation and Article 19 condemn the illegal confiscation of material and documentary footage from the Norwegian filmmaker Erling Borgen and the cameraman Dag Inge Dahl in Baku Airport on May 6, 2010.

We call upon Azerbaijani authorities to honour Azerbaijan’s international human rights obligations and restore the seized property to the owners.

The filmmakers had been in Azerbaijan to make recordings for a documentary about the imprisoned editor Eynullah Fatullayev when the materials were seized. Among the items missing from the luggage were hard disks, memory sticks containing all of the sources of information, copies of video footage and photos, as well as documents containing background information for the case.

The incident happened at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport at 5.00 a.m when Borgen and Dahl were leaving for Oslo.  After passing security checkpoints they were told that they had too much luggage. As they were surrounded by six men, some security guards, some unidentified men, they were refused taking most of their hand luggage onboard. The carry-on luggage was then checked in and transported without their consent. Borgen and Dahl experienced some of the guards´ behaviour as threatening. When the flight was boarded, Borgen and Dahl were forced by security guards to stay at the gate until the very last minute, while several security guards checked their camera. When the filmmakers arrived in Oslo, the hard disks containing all of the sources of information regarding the Fatullayev case, memory sticks and the video footage were missing from the luggage.

-They also had inspected my mobile phone, Erling Borgen says. – I know, because they had changed the language from my Norwegian to English.

Erling Borgen and Dag Inge Dahl were preparing a film about freedom of expression in Azerbaijan sponsored by the Norwegian Freedom of Expression Foundation, focusing on the case of imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev. Borgen has previous made the documentary film “In the Shadow of Statoil” focusing on the murder of the Monitor journal editor-in-chief, Elmar Huseynov. The two journalists had spent six days in Baku interviewing a variety of reporters, human rights and press freedom defenders, and relatives of the imprisoned journalist. The missing material contained footage from the trial of Eynulla Fatullayev on May 4. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights House Foundation were also present at the trial and witnessed that the presiding judge gave the Norwegian team explicit permission to film parts of the proceedings.

– The incident must be seen as a clear attempt to prevent the documentary film about the Fatullayev case from being produced. The fact that documents and memory cards containing information about the Fatullayev case were missing and the camera itself was not stolen show that the incident cannot be seen as an ordinary robbery case, Maria Dahle, Director of Human Rights House Foundation says.

Erling Borgen is a prominent member of both Norwegian PEN and the Norwegian Journalist Association.

On the International Freedom of Press Day May 3, the Secretary General of Council of Europe, Torbjørn Jagland, especially referred to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights Fatullayev vs Azerbaijan and stated that Azerbaijan as a member state is legally bound to comply with the rulings of the Court.

Referring to General Secretary´s statement, underlining that “freedom of expression is fundamental and something all 47 member states must always defend, with neither compromise nor apology”, the undersigning organisations call upon the Azerbaijani authorities

·    to return all confiscated footage and materials to Erling Borgen and  Dag Inge Dahl,
·    to ensure safety of all those who assisted and gave their testimonies to the Norwegian crew during their visit to Azerbaijan,
·    to conduct an investigation concerning the incident at Heydar Aliyev International Airport and to publish the outcome of the investigation.

We also call on the European Union, OSCE, the Council of Europe, EU member states and Norway to condemn the incident as an attack against the freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and to demand the return of all confiscated materials.

Sincerely,

Maria Dahle, Human Rights House Foundation
Carl Morten Iversen, Norwegian PEN
Bjørn Engesland, Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Journalist Erling Borgen trakassert på flyplassen i Baku

Norwegian PEN, The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Human Rights House Foundation and Article 19 condemn the illegal confiscation of material and documentary footage from the Norwegian filmmaker Erling Borgen and the cameraman Dag Inge Dahl in Baku Airport on May 6, 2010.

We call upon Azerbaijani authorities to honour Azerbaijan’s international human rights obligations and restore the seized property to the owners.

The filmmakers had been in Azerbaijan to make recordings for a documentary about the imprisoned editor Eynullah Fatullayev when the materials were seized. Among the items missing from the luggage were hard disks, memory sticks containing all of the sources of information, copies of video footage and photos, as well as documents containing background information for the case.

The incident happened at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport at 5.00 a.m when Borgen and Dahl were leaving for Oslo.  After passing security checkpoints they were told that they had too much luggage. As they were surrounded by six men, some security guards, some unidentified men, they were refused taking most of their hand luggage onboard. The carry-on luggage was then checked in and transported without their consent. Borgen and Dahl experienced some of the guards´ behaviour as threatening. When the flight was boarded, Borgen and Dahl were forced by security guards to stay at the gate until the very last minute, while several security guards checked their camera. When the filmmakers arrived in Oslo, the hard disks containing all of the sources of information regarding the Fatullayev case, memory sticks and the video footage were missing from the luggage.

-They also had inspected my mobile phone, Erling Borgen says. – I know, because they had changed the language from my Norwegian to English.

Erling Borgen and Dag Inge Dahl were preparing a film about freedom of expression in Azerbaijan sponsored by the Norwegian Freedom of Expression Foundation, focusing on the case of imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev. Borgen has previous made the documentary film “In the Shadow of Statoil” focusing on the murder of the Monitor journal editor-in-chief, Elmar Huseynov. The two journalists had spent six days in Baku interviewing a variety of reporters, human rights and press freedom defenders, and relatives of the imprisoned journalist. The missing material contained footage from the trial of Eynulla Fatullayev on May 4. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights House Foundation were also present at the trial and witnessed that the presiding judge gave the Norwegian team explicit permission to film parts of the proceedings.

– The incident must be seen as a clear attempt to prevent the documentary film about the Fatullayev case from being produced. The fact that documents and memory cards containing information about the Fatullayev case were missing and the camera itself was not stolen show that the incident cannot be seen as an ordinary robbery case, Maria Dahle, Director of Human Rights House Foundation says.

Erling Borgen is a prominent member of both Norwegian PEN and the Norwegian Journalist Association.

On the International Freedom of Press Day May 3, the Secretary General of Council of Europe, Torbjørn Jagland, especially referred to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights Fatullayev vs Azerbaijan and stated that Azerbaijan as a member state is legally bound to comply with the rulings of the Court.

Referring to General Secretary´s statement, underlining that “freedom of expression is fundamental and something all 47 member states must always defend, with neither compromise nor apology”, the undersigning organisations call upon the Azerbaijani authorities

·    to return all confiscated footage and materials to Erling Borgen and  Dag Inge Dahl,
·    to ensure safety of all those who assisted and gave their testimonies to the Norwegian crew during their visit to Azerbaijan,
·    to conduct an investigation concerning the incident at Heydar Aliyev International Airport and to publish the outcome of the investigation.

We also call on the European Union, OSCE, the Council of Europe, EU member states and Norway to condemn the incident as an attack against the freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and to demand the return of all confiscated materials.

Sincerely,

Maria Dahle, Human Rights House Foundation
Carl Morten Iversen, Norwegian PEN
Bjørn Engesland, Norwegian Helsinki Committee

2010: Azerbaijan: Eynulla Fatullayev

Bergen, 12. January 2010

His Excellency
President
Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066
Azerbaijan
Fax: + 994 12 492 0625

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7, 370005 Baku
Azerbaijan
Fax:  + 994 12 492 45 90

Your Excellencies,

As a member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN, I express concern about the new drug possession charges against imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev.

Eynulla Fatullayev, editor of Russian language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri language weekly Gündelike Azerbaijan, was sentenced to eight and a half years on charges of defamation, terrorism, incitement ethnic hatred and tax evasion.

International PEN and other human rights monitors consider him to be imprisoned because of his history of human rights reporting, an article he published in his newspaper, which argued that the Azeri support of United States foreign policy would make them more likely to be attacked by Iran. The sentence also encompassed charges of tax evasion. At the time of the sentencing in October 2007 Fatullayev was already serving a sentence of two and a half years on charges of libel and insult for an article which he denied writing. Fatullayev has a history of challenging the Azeri authorities and many believe the charges are another way of silencing him.

In an alert dated 4 January 2010, the Committee to Protect Journalists refers to past cases where criminal charges, including those related to narcotics, have been used against political dissidents as a means of penalising them for their activism.

We believe that editor Eynulla Fatullayev are detained solely for his legitimate activities as a reporter, and I call for immediate and unconditional release of Eynulla Fatullayev in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a state party.

I also seek your assurance, Your Excellencies, for calling on the Azeri authorities to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.

Confident that you, Your Excellencies, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,
Trine Kleven

Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN
Wergelandsveien 29
0167 Oslo
Norway
www.norskpen.no

2007: Azerbaijan: Eynulla Fatullayev

May 31th 2007

President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
Baku

Your Excellency;

From the non-political association of writers, International PEN, I learn with alarm and dismay of the case of Eynulla Fatullayev, a journalist who has been sentenced to 2,5 years imprison and faces further charges. He was convicted for an article posted on the Internet, attributed to him, which he denies having written. He will now be prosecuted for “terrorism” under Article 214 of the Criminal Code, for which he faces another 12 years in prison. No specific details are given regarding the accusations for having given help to the Armenian Special Forces. His newspaper offices have been searched by National Security agents and sealed, while is computers and other material were seized.

It seems that the treatment of Eynulla Fatullayev is symptomatic for the general situation of journalists’ freedom to express their opinions in Azerbaijan. Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases of violence and criminal defamation charges against journalists in Azerbaijan.

Should not Azerbaijan, as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council, be exemplary in its protection of fundamental human rights like freedom of expression? In stead, it seems that the authorities have launched a series of politically motivated flawed trials against critical journalists, thus curtailing a living, democratic opposition.

Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee call for the immediate release of Eynullah Fatullayev  and protest against the additional sentence levied against him. We call for provisions to protect his family from harassment and attacks. We would further like to express our concern about the growing repression of the media in your country, with the sentencing of a number of journalists and writers.

Your Excellency, I urge you to look into Fatullayev’s case, and other similar cases and bring about a change in official attitudes to his and his fellow writers’ activities, even when they speak against official opinions.

I thank you sincerely for your attention.

Yours sincerely

Aase Gjerdrum                                                                    Carl Morten Iversen
Member of Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee      Secretary General

Cc:    Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Embassy in Baku

2007: Azerbaijan: Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu

20 May 2007

The President
His Excellency Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066 Azerbaijan
Fax: 00 994 12 492 0625
Email: president@gov.az

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7, 370005 Baku, Azerbaijan
Fax: 00 994 12 92 45 90

Your Excellency,

As a member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN, I am deeply concerned by the sentences served against writer Rafiq Tagi and editor Samir Sadagatoglu.

They have been heavily sentenced for an article comparing European and Islamic traditions. We are concerned about the death threats made against them, and we are welcoming the Azerbaijan prosecutor general’s statement that clearly indicates opposition to such calls. I seek your assurance, Your Excellency, for the continued protection of their families and themselves against attack.

We believe that writer Rafiq Tagi and editor Samir Sadagatoglu are detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, and I call for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a signatory.

Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Trine Kleven
Member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

COPIES TO:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo

2007: Azerbaijan: Rafiq Tagi, Samir Sadagatoglu

January 19th 07

President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
Baku

Your Excellency

Norwegian PEN, the Norwegian section of International PEN, a non-political association of writers, expresses severe concern regarding Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu, who are both under prosecution and death threats because of their written and spoken opinions. It is reported that hey are being kept in detention awaiting a trial, and that this term is being extended without trial and a formal verdict. PEN calls for the release of Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu and that they be protected from attack and that any person who threatens their lives be brought to prosecution.

We consider the detention of these two men to be in direct violation of their right to freedom of expression. International PEN is appalled by calls that the two men be executed and the threats against their families. We are of the opinion that the imprisonment for an article published in a newspaper is in clear breach of international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression, notably Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a signatory.

Your Excellency, we urge you to look into these cases and make sure that the two men are being released and that all further threats to their families must be brought to an end.

Yours sincerely

Aase Gjerdrum
Member of Norwegian PEN,

Fellesuttalelse om situsjonen i Azerbaijan

Oslo, 26th May 2005

To:
The Chairman and members of the Norwegian permanent delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)

Re:
The obligations of the Azerbaijani Government to comply with its commitments following its membership in the Council of Europe

The non-governmental human rights organisations the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian PEN find it necessary to direct your attention to how the Azerbaijan authorities continues not to fulfil its obligations before the Council of Europe, and ask you if you are planning to make any steps in this regard.

On Thursday 19 May we received alarming reports from a number of credible sources regarding the detention of at least 30 democracy activists and members of the opposition. The authorities have accused them of violation of public order. We believe that the arrests were connected with the rally planned by the opposition parties Musavat, Azerbaijan Democratic Party and Popular Front joined in the “UGUR”-bloc on May 21st. The Mayor of Baku City refused permission to organise the event citing concerns that it fell too close to the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline scheduled for May 25.  As you may be aware of, the authorities have de facto installed a ban on all rallies and protests organised by opposition parties and other organisations since the terrible events in Baku on October 16th, 2003.  On that day, the police, military and security forces violently broke up the large rally on the Freedom Square protesting the fraudulent October 15th elections.  The Azerbaijani authorities refuse the right of assembly despite the guarantees provided by the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the obligations following the membership in the Council of Europe, and despite the Article 8 of President Ilham Aliyevs Executive order on improvement of the Election Practices.

On May 21st, police surrounded Party headquarters before the scheduled rally, closed entrances to the square where the rally was supposed to take place and also used other measures, including arrests, to prevent protesters to approach the square.  The police in large groups then used batons to beat people who had gathered and attempted to get to the square.  Dozens were injured and more than hundred detained.  We can provide you with lists of the injured and arrested upon request.  The journalist Faris Teymurkhanli was beaten unconscious, even though he was carrying a jacket clearly indicating that he represented the press. Also several other journalists were beaten carrying out their duty, in direct contradiction to the statement made by President Aliyev in a meeting with Reporters Sans Frontiéres on 4 April 2005.  In that meeting, the President stressed that that it was “unacceptable for government officials to attack journalists» and that he wished in future to «establish the rule of law» in Azerbaijan.

Today, we have had reports that even young students, members of the organisations advocating for activation of the role of youth in political processes and propagating the norms of democracy are being arrested.

On 25 April 2005, the PACE Monitoring Committee adopted a declaration expressing deep concern ahead of the November 2 parliamentary elections.  The Committee declared that basic pre-conditions for holding free and fair elections are not met, as freedom of expression is suppressed and there is no right to hold peaceful meetings.  The Committee underscored that even though many political prisoners, including opposition leaders have been released; they are still banned from participating in political life.  On this particular issue, we also would like to remind you that potential candidates are still abroad for fear of persecution if they return, reducing the list of profiled opposition figures on the candidates lists even more.

The declaration adopted by the Committee echoed in particular the PACE resolution 1358 (2004) on the functioning of the democratic institutions in Azerbaijan.  In this resolution, PACE expresses a number of serious concerns related to considering the election of 15 October 2003, PACE also finds the separation of powers inadequate and deplores the fact that media still cannot be considered free.  With regard to fundamental freedoms, PACE concludes that the freedom of expression has been further curtailed, not improved, since the previous report, the freedom of association is restricted, the freedom of peaceful assembly suffers repeated an unacceptable restrictions.  Further, PACE concludes that serious violations of basic human rights by law enforcement bodies are still being reported and torture and ill-treatment of detainees continue.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian PEN would like to express our concerns and doubts with regard to the Government of Azerbaijan’s sincere intentions to implement the obligations following the membership in the Council of Europe.  The recent events again seriously put in question the Azerbaijani governments’ understanding of the real content of what a pluralistic, democratic society, governed under rule of law means.  We are seriously concerned that if the Azerbaijani government does not immediately lift all restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, as well as implements recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission with regard to election administration, free and fair parliamentary elections in November this year will not be possible.

Our organisations acknowledge that a new member state of the Council of Europe may need a reasonable amount of time to be able to implement the commitments they have voluntarily made.  However, we urge you to raise the question as to whether the Government of Azerbaijan is sincerely committed to its effort to fulfil its obligations before the Council of Europe.  We also urge you to consider the consequences the recent events related to the Republic of  Azes membership in the Council of Europe.

Sincerely yours,

Bjørn Engesland
Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Maria Dahle
Executive Director, Human Rights House Foundation, Norway

Carl Morten Iversen
Secretary General, Norwegian PEN

 

Copies of this letter are sent to:

President Ilham Aliyev, the Republic of Azerbaijan
The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik
The Norwegian Parliament, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Torbjørn Jagland
The Norwegian Embassy, Baku, Steinar Gil
The US Embassy, Baku
Hina Jilani
FIDH,
Freedom House
OSCE, Baku Office
Council of Europe, Baku Office