Baku Abuses Pandemic to Persecute Opposition – Human Rights Watch

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Baku / 17.04.20 / Turan: Azerbaijani authorities abuse the restrictions imposed as part of the fight against the Corona Virus and arrest opposition activists to shut up critics of the government. This was stated by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In recent weeks, at least six activists and an opposition journalist have been arrested for 10 to 30 days on trumped-up charges of violating quarantine or disobeying the police.

Almost all of them were arrested after criticizing the conditions in quarantine centers or the inability of the government to provide adequate compensation to vulnerable groups.

Among those arrested there was even a man who was taking his child with a chronic illness to the hospital for treatment.

“These arrests are fully consistent with the long-standing model of political retaliation in Azerbaijan,” said George Gogia, HRW deputy director for Europe and Central Asia. “The authorities should stop using the emergency as an excuse to punish freedom of expression,” he added.

HRW believes that arresting people for violating the quarantine regime can actually increase the spread of the disease because the virus can spread easily in crowded places of detention. Regional and national monitoring groups criticized the conditions in prisons in Azerbaijan.

HRW believes that the system of permission to leave home introduced in Azerbaijan unduly restricts movement and personal freedom.

“The use of imprisonment as a sanction for violation of quarantine is counter-productive and contrary to the recommendations of experts from the UN and the Council of Europe.

Authorities must immediately cease the political application of restrictive measures and release those arrested, the HRW statement said.  —06D-

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