Arif Yunus and Leyla Yunus were finally released conditionally on medical grounds on 12 November and 9 December, respectively. As part of the conditions they were placed under a travel ban. Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus also face separate fabricated charges of “high treason”, yet to be heard in a different court.
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
The Embassy of Azerbaijan in the Netherlands
His Excellency Mir-Hamza Efendiyev
Andries Bickerweg 6
2517 JP The Hague
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the eighth update of UA 182/14. Further information: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/EUR55/2275/2015/en/
activists denied vital medical treatment abroad
Leyla Yunus is a prominent, possibly the most prominent, human rights defender in Azerbaijan. Along with her husband
, Arif Yunus, she has been actively involved in civil activism. Since 1995 she has been the President of the Azerbaijani NGO the Institute for Peace and Democracy. Both Leyla and Arif are historians by training and their human rights activism originates from their attempts to push for a peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, which killed and displaced hundreds of thousands in the early 90s. Along with being outspoken in favour of reconciliation
, Leyla has also emerged as the fierce critic of the repressive domestic policies of the Azerbaijani government. Leyla has received several high-ranking awards for her human rights work, including the Knight of the French Order of the Legion of Honor and the Theodor Haecker Prize. She was also the finalist of the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
According to the information available to Amnesty International, the charges of treason are related to Leyla and Arif Yunus’ engagement in peace and reconciliation projects with Armenian NGOs. The charges of tax evasion
, forgery, fraud, and illegal business were related to the activities of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, which the Azerbaijani officials had prevented Leyla from registering. The authorities have been denying registration of NGOs in Azerbaijan arbitrarily, later using this as a basis for criminal prosecution of NGO leaders.
Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about the Azerbaijani authorities' failure to respect their international obligations to protect the rights to freedom of expression
, association and peaceful assembly. Dissenting voices in the country frequently face trumped-up criminal charges, physical assault, harassment
, blackmail and other reprisals from the authorities and groups associated with them. Law-enforcement officials regularly use torture and other ill-treatment against detained civil society activists, with impunity.
Amnesty International has recognized 18 people as prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan, jailed solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. For more information
, see Critical human rights situation in Azerbaijan further worsening ahead of 2015 election
(https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur55/2787/2015/en/), Azerbaijan: the Repression Games: The voices you won’t hear at the first European Games
(https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur55/1732/2015/en/), Azerbaijan: Guilty of Defending Rights: Azerbaijan’s human rights defenders and activists behind bars
(https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur55/1077/2015/en/) and Behind bars: Silencing dissent in Azerbaijan
Independent monitoring of human rights in Azerbaijan is increasingly difficult. Representatives of Amnesty International, as well as several other international human rights organizations and international media
, were barred from entering Azerbaijan in 2015. Amnesty International’s delegation was refused entry into Azerbaijan and deported from Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport on 7 October 2015.
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, hosted the inaugural European Games in June 2015. The 2015 European Games was the first major multi-sport event for Europe and involved around 6,000 European athletes. Shortly before her arrest, on 25 July 2014, Leyla Yunus organized a press conference at which she called for an international boycott of the European Games because of Azerbaijan’s dire human rights record.
Name: Leyla Yunus (f), Arif Yunus (m).
Gender m/f: both