After a former KGB general Heydar Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan in 1993 – political repressions started. In 2003 the father was followed by his son, Ilham Aliev and repressions against dissidents became systematic. Human rights defenders of Azerbaijan regularly compose lists of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Among them – Leyla and Arif Yunus, a couple of Azeri dissidents and human rights activists, who are now refugees in the Netherlands.
Message from the authors of the list
On 15 November Leyla Yunus, Oktay Gulaliyev and Elshan Gasanov completed a list of prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan. The completion of this list, which is today comprised of 160 people, required a lot of effort and time. Even now it is not possible to confirm that this is the final and comprehensive list of victims of political repressions. Repressions continue every day, all the time in Azerbaijan. Two are released and three - imprisoned. There are none and there can’t be no guarantees that you collected comprehensive information about all prisoners of conscience. Bu we should do our best. The three authors of this list know from their own experiences, what imprisonment at an Azeri prison is. It is obvious for the authors: it is not a problem if, by mistake, a name of a person, which had been already released but they weren’t fast enough to find it out, was included in the list. The most important is to include those, who is imprisoned. Leyla Yunus has been completing lists of prisoners of conscience since 1988. In 1990s the majority – more than 80% - were Karabakh war veterans: army officers, OMON servicemen. Now the majority are religious believers. It’s understandable that some are afraid to support religious prisoners and include the names of religious Muslims in the list. It’s very difficult to support and fight for those, whose views you don’t share yourself and even more than that – consider these views dangerous and harmful. It was not only once that Leyla Yunus included into the list the names of former state officials, who induced the feeling of hatred in her personally, but she did it anyway, and continues to do so. A human rights defender should work according to the principle, pronounced by Voltaire: “I disagree with every word you say, but I am ready to die for your right to say it.” The authors continue to collect information about victims of repressions, there are none and there can’t be a single completed list in a country with an authoritarian regime.
List of prisoners of conscience
Attached is a list of prisoners of conscience in Russian language. The current list contains all those arrested and convicted on political grounds, about whom it was possible to collect reliable information as on 15 November 2016. This list was composed according to the criteria of “prisoner of conscience”, explained in the Resolution No. 1900, adopted at the PA CoE session in October 2012.
Source: Leyla Yunus
Photo: Holly Hayes