Dec. 16, 2015 | Press Releases

HRF to Azerbaijan: Drop Charges Against Human Rights Activists

NEW YORK (December 16, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) welcomes last week’s release of Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus and calls on the government of Azerbaijan to drop all charges and lift the travel ban against her. Yunus is the Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy and a member of the World Organization Against Torture. In 2014, she and her husband, Arif Yunusov, were wrongfully convicted of treason, fraud, tax evasion, forgery, and conducting illegal business. They were sentenced to eight-and-a-half years and seven years in prison, respectively. On December 10, the Baku Court of Appeal ordered a five-year suspension of Yunus’s sentence on humanitarian grounds and she was released on probation. Last month, her husband was released conditionally on the same grounds. However, the court did not drop the charges against Yunus and her husband.

HRF to Azerbaijan: Drop Charges Against Human Rights Activists

“The arbitrary detention of Yunus and Yunusov and their grossly unfair trial sparked an international outcry from human rights organizations around the world. Evidently, Azerbaijan’s authoritarian government is not indifferent to international criticism,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “The conditional release of the couple is proof that civil society groups can challenge dictatorships. Yunus and her husband are victims of the political manipulation of the judiciary by the dictator and its cronies. The charges against these human rights defenders should be dropped immediately and the travel bans should be lifted,” Halvorssen added.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.