Leyla and Arif Yunus met as young history students in the late 1970s, at a party hosted by one of their professors at Baku State University.
As the evening drew to a close, Arif offered to walk Leyla to the subway station. There was something about her he liked -- a lot. A week later, he appeared at her mother's doorstep, asking for Leyla's hand in marriage.
The 19-year-old Azerbaijani man claims he awoke one morning in mid-August to the sound and feel of gasoline splashing on his body and his mother angrily screaming. Through a sleepy haze, he saw her burning a piece of paper. Suddenly, he alleged, his mother’s intentions became clear; he was about to be burned to death for being homosexual.
Azerbaijan in recent months has launched a clear assault against various civil-society activists and non-governmental organizations. While rough treatment of critics is nothing new in this energy-rich South-Caucasus country, one question remains unanswered: Why pick up the pace now?
During the Soviet era, Communist authorities occasionally had dissidents committed to psychiatric hospitals as a way of keeping them quiet. Times have changed, but rights activists in Armenia say psychiatric hospitals are still occasionally being used and abused, especially as a means of settling financial and other disputes among friends and relatives.
Isabel Santos, chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, wrapped up a short visit to Kazakhstan on June 11. In talks with officials, Santos raised concerns about Astana’s track record on democracy and civil society.
Amid growing concern about its treatment of government critics, Azerbaijan on May 14 assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s main human-rights body.
May 14 marks a new low in European cynicism: Azerbaijan, a country ruled by an authoritarian government, which in recent years has stifled a free press and muzzled free speech, is assuming the chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the organization’s decision-making body.
WASHINGTON -- The United States should hold Azerbaijan accountable for its human rights record, even as the energy-rich country has come into renewed focus as a potential key player in weaning Europe off of Russian gas in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, U.S. officials say.
In mid-November, an Azerbaijani court sentenced Rashad Ramazanov, an Islamist blogger, to nine years in prison on charges of drug possession. Two weeks earlier, Taleh Bagir-zade, a young and charismatic Shi’a cleric, received a two-year prison term after being convicted on similar charges.
Just over two years ago, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed on as a political consultant with the government of Kazakhstan. His performance as an adviser to the Central Asian nation remains a source of contention. But what is indisputable is that Kazakhstan's democratization record is far poorer today than it was when he started.