With the June 17-19 Formula One race in Baku drawing closer, Azerbaijani and foreign activists have tried to draw international attention to Azerbaijan’s human rights record. But do not think that the country does not have its own human rights intermediary. It does – 79-year-old Elmira Suleymanova. Controversy, however, persists about what she does to defend human rights.
A claim that Georgian authorities snooped on students at the country’s oldest and most prestigious higher educational institution is stirring controversy over the depth of the government’s commitment to citizens’ right to privacy.
The government’s persecution in Tajikistan of its domestic opposition in recent months has been relentless and systematic. Now a briefing paper issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee documents how the hunt for critics of Tajik authorities is extending far beyond the country’s borders.
It has been a year since Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was taken into custody, marking a watershed in the government’s domestic crackdown on free speech. Individual freedoms have continued to erode since then in Azerbaijan, and the jailing of journalists and rights activists has developed into a cause celebre in the West.
After sustaining severe beatings from her partner, Asya telephoned the police, seeking help in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital.
“They said, ‘Did he use a knife? Did he try to kill you?’ I would say, ‘No,’ and they would say, ‘Okay, you call me when he tries to kill you, because we have more important things to do,’” Asya said, recalling two incidents from 2012.
One afternoon in late August, members of Tajikistan’s last real opposition party turned up at the Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel for a news conference, intending to discuss the latest wave of government intimidation they were facing.