Freedom House asks Azerbaijan to release dissidents Leyla and Arif Yunus
July 13, Washington: Ahead of the scheduled July 13 start of the trial of Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus on politically motivated charges of tax evasion, falsification of documents, and fraud.
“The trial of Leyla and Arif Yunus highlights the government of Azerbaijan’s crackdown on freedoms of association, assembly, and expression,” said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs.
“Freedom House is deeply concerned about Leyla and Arif’s health in prison. We urge authorities to drop the charges and immediately release them.”
Leyla Yunus, head of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, has played a significant role in dialogues with members of Armenian civil society. She and her husband, Arif, were arrested in summer 2014, while compiling a list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
International pressure for the Yunus’ release has involved the band U2 as well as a letter this week from a bipartisan group of 16 U.S. Senators.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.75 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
The Oslo Times