Azerbaijani authorities speak out against award for political prisoner

Anar Mammadli, imprisoned since December 2013

Anar Mammadli, imprisoned since December 2013

Government authorities in Azerbaijan have spoken out against the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) decision to award political prisoner Anar Mammadli with the Havel prize for human rights.

The award, announced earlier this week, was given to the civil society activist for his work as an elections monitor and pro-democracy campaigner. The decision was seen as a statement against the Azerbaijani regime by some human rights groups, who welcomed the European recognition of Azerbaijan’s political prisoner situation.

Azerbaijani authorities however reacted negatively to PACE’s decision, claiming that the award is an indication of European pressure promoting foreign interests in Azerbaijan.

In a statement made earlier this week Ali Hasanov, a member of President Aliyev’s staff, claimed that “certain organizations, acting behind the façade of human-rights advocacy, are not at all independent”. He went on to reiterate that Azerbaijan claims the authority to arrest anyone who breaks the law, and that the actions of the EU group indicate support of the enemies of Azerbaijan.

News of the award has indicated a growing movement against the Azerbaijani regime from within Europe, coming shortly after the European Parliament called for sanctions against Azerbaijan if the country did not amend its poor human rights record.

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