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February 23, 2017

Joint Letter to Human Rights Council: Upholding international law in South Sudan

in News

To Permanent Representatives of member and observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council RE: Renewing the mandate of the Commission on Human…
February 23, 2017

Addressing Civic Space Restrictions in Uganda: What Role for the UPR?

This policy action brief, prepared by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), examines a range of…
February 22, 2017

CIVICUS Fellowship Programme

in News

The CIVICUS Fellowship Programme is an exciting new venture in which key experts will be placed into national and/or regional organisations for the period…
February 21, 2017

Civil Society “Contested and Under Pressure”, says new report

Read this press release in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish Civil society around the globe is “contested and under pressure” according to a 22-country…
February 16, 2017

Joint Letter to UN Human Rights Council: More attention needed on human rights violations in…

in News

To: Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council RE: Sustaining attention to human rights violations in China Excellency,…
February 13, 2017

Gambian civil society optimistic as new democratic era dawns

in News

The Gambia has recently gone through a major democratic transition. CIVICUS interviews Sohna Sallah, the Vice President of the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists…


Don't lecture the Americans about our values. Demonstrate them.

By Danny Sriskandarajah and Julia Sanchez  There has never been a better time for Canada to show progressive leadership globally in support of inclusive and open societies that respect human rights. As the government prepares a…

Against all odds: Civil society under fire

By Danny Sriskandarajah Civil society is under fire—sometimes literally—in many countries and in all regions of the world. Governments are clamping down on fundamental civic freedoms. This year’s Global Risks Report highlights the threat to civic space,…

In a time of exclusion, making space for Faith Based Organizations

By Amjad Mohamed Saleem For many people around the world, faith is embedded in cultures, practices and communities. Earlier this month, World Interfaith Harmony week taught us that religious practices and perspectives continue to be sources…

Sustainable development for all ages

By Danny Sriskandarajah It’s a global phenomenon, already exerting a profound social and economic impact in both rich and poor countries. So why are so few development professionals talking about population aging? Our planet’s rapidly shifting…

Leave no person with disabilities behind

By Leave No One Behind Partneship and ADD International Pushpa Rani had pneumonia when she was eight years old, which left her extremely weak. Eventually, she lost all movement in her legs. Pushpa joined a women's self-help group,…

OGP must protect space for people power - before it is too late

By Cathal Gilbert  In some Open Government Partnership (OGP) member countries, the threats to peaceful dissent and activism are extremely grave. Examples include the assassinations of five social leaders in just one week in Colombia, the police’s…

"The Azeri government has a long record of persecuting dissidents, civil society activists and journalists," says Liela Alieva, President of CNIS. "We fear that vocal activists who campaigned against the holding of the Eurovision contest in the country will now be targeted as the government intensifies repression in the run up to the 2013 presidential elections."

Preceding the Eurovision Song Contest, CIVICUS observed an increase in politically motivated and arbitrary detentions of civil society activists. On 20 April 2012, blogger and human rights defender Taleh Khasmammadov was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of "hooliganism," "disorderly conduct" and "resisting authorities." The real reason was to prevent him publishing reports on connections between the police and criminal gangs. Oktay Gulaliyev, coordinator of CSO Kura, has been on pre-trial custody since April 2012 on allegations of inciting unrest, violence and resisting orders from the government.

On 25 May government security officials arrested, detained and later released Ali Kerimli, Coordinator of Council of the Public Chamber and leader of opposition party the Popular Front, together with over 70 civil society members, for participating in the peaceful 'Public Walk' campaign in Baku. The demonstration, which attracted hundreds of civil society activists, marked the third time during the week-long contest that security forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters.

"The violent dispersal of demonstrators that happened during the Eurovision Song Contest formed but one part of the Azeri government's ongoing campaign to silence civil society and independent dissent in Azerbaijan," says Mandeep Tiwana, Policy and Advocacy Manager at CIVICUS. "Now that the spotlight has shifted, the international community must not look the other way. They must draw attention to human rights violations and engage the government on its failure to uphold its human rights obligations."

CIVICUS and CNIS urge the Azeri government to desist from further harassment and intimidation of civil society activists involved in the Sing for Democracy Campaign, to release all prisoners of conscience and ensure that the exercise of rights of freedom of assembly, expression and association are respected ahead of the 2013 elections.




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