The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy issued the following statement today (25 June) on the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan:
“I am very glad that President Aliyev has released more political prisoners. He has pardoned several young protesters who exercised their freedom to demonstrate last year and as a result were sentenced to lengthy terms in prison.
I see the release of these political prisoners also as an expression of President Aliyev’s commitment to more democracy and the better protection of human rights. I call upon President Aliyev to continue along this path, to release all remaining political prisoners without delay and to adhere in future to all the obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.”
On 22 June, President Aliyev signed a decree pardoning 64 prisoners. They include at least nine individuals who NGOs and Western observers considered political prisoners: Arif Hajili, Tural Abbasli, Zulfugar Eyvazov, Ulvi Guliyev, Rufat Hajibeyli, Babek Hasanov, Sahib Kerimov, Mahammad Majidli and Ahad Mammadli.
This means that of the 14 individuals who were arrested following the non-authorized opposition protests of 2 April 2011, the last nine have now been set free. In August and October 2011, they were sentenced to prison terms of one and a half to three years on charges of incitement to mass disorder and in some cases resisting arrest.