(Photo: Index on Censorship
Organisations and individuals from across Europe gathered in front of Azerbaijani embassies on Monday to call for the release of political prisoners and demand Azerbaijan ends its crackdown on civil society.
Index on Censorship, joined by Platform London among others, held a demonstration outside the embassy of Azerbaijan, lighting near 100 candles, one for each political prisoner currently jailed on trumped up charges.
Azerbaijan’s National Revival Day is on 17 November. On this day in 1988, people started demonstrating in Azadliq (Freedom) Square, and the protest grew into a national movement that led to the declaration of national independence from the Soviet Union. Today, 26 years later, the people of Azerbaijan cannot even gather in Freedom Square to ask for the release of political prisoners. Freedom of expression and assembly are repressed, and those who dare speaking up face heavy consequences.
In the past six months, as Azerbaijan chaired the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on civil society, including the imprisonment of human rights defenders and political activists. Others have been forced into hiding.