Azerbaijani activist nominated by PASOS wins human rights prize
News Source: PASOS Secretariat, Czech Republic
A prominent Azerbaijani human rights defender nominated for the annual Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by PASOS was named the winner of the award September 29.
Anar Mammadli, who is currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan because of his efforts to defend the right to free elections in Azerbaijan, was named a finalist for the prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation.
Mammadli is the founder and chairperson of an influential and experienced organization in Azerbaijan dedicated to observing elections. Since 2001, his Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre has been carrying out independent election monitoring in Azerbaijan. Mammadli contributed to programs and events on monitoring of elections, participation and education of voters, as well as the design of materials and reports during 13 elections in Azerbaijan.
He was arrested in December 2013 accused of “abuse of power” and other matters, and sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison in May 2014.
“His case is particularly salient as Azerbaijan currently chairs the Council of Europe – and the prize is presented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,” said Jeff Lovitt, executive director of PASOS. “We want Anar – now serving a 5 1/2 year sentence, and all the other political prisoners, such as Rasul Jafarov and Leyla Yunus, to be freed immediately, and hope the spotlight brings a re-think by the Azerbaijani authorities, just as Ales Bialatski in Belarus, last year’s winner, has now been released.”
The Václav Havel Library has organized an international conference called Human Rights 25 Years Later in honor of the laureate. It will take place at the Prague Crossroads on October 1, 2014. Alongside Mammadli and two other finalists (B’Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights and the Jesuit Refugee Service), last year’s winner, Bialiatski, a prominent human rights defender in Belarus, will also attend. Bialiatski was unjustly imprisoned at the time his prize was presented but was released this summer under a presidential amnesty.