Call to free Anar Mammadli and other Azerbaijani activists

May 9, 2024

The Forum 2000 Foundation and Václav Havel Library are deeply unsettled by the recent detention of Anar Mammadli, Azerbaijani human rights defender and member of the International Coalition for Democratic Renewal, coordinated by the Forum 2000. He is also the founder of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, the largest elections watchdog organization in the country and a recipient of the 2014 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize awarded jointly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Václav Havel Library.

Mr. Mammadli was detained on April 29 in Baku following a search of his and his parents’ apartments. The following day, Khatai District Court of Baku ordered him, in the absence of legal representation, to 3 month and 28 days of pre-trial arrest on the charges of finance smuggling (Article 206.3.2 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code). Mr. Mammadli and his defence deny the charges, considering them unjustified and devoid of proof and against which they will appeal. Mr. Mammadli’s representatives deem his case related to that of Abzas Media’s journalists, several of whom are facing similar charges. Azerbaijan has shown an increasing practice of arresting journalists, activists, and other voices of opposition and civil society, especially after the recent presidential elections in February. An outspoken critic of Azerbaijani authorities and election practices, Mr. Mammadli himself was already imprisoned once in December 2013 for alleged economic crimes after openly criticizing the presidential elections. He was pardoned, together with other civil society leaders, in 2016 after nearly 2.5 years of imprisonment.

On May 3, 2024, The Forum 2000 Foundation and Václav Havel Library expressed our deep solidarity with Mr. Mammadli and other political prisoners and jointly appealed to the Azerbaijani president Aliyev for their unconditional release and dropping of the charges against them. We also called for the string of persecution and detention of Azerbaijani civil society members, especially journalists and other watchdogs, to be suspended.