Peaceful worship threatened in Azerbaijan
The escalation of raids, arrests and deportations indicates a steady decline of human rights in Azerbaijan.
Relevant report: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1179
BAKU, Azerbaijan—The escalation of raids, arrests and deportations indicates a steady decline of human rights in Azerbaijan.
One recent incident involved two women who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gamar Alieva and Imamzade Mamedova. They were arrested for carrying out “religious propaganda.” Both were released, but after being detained for two weeks, 58-year-old Mamedova was deported to Russia on August 22. The authorities did not provide her with any authorizing documentation; she is of Azerbaijani descent but is a Russian citizen who had returned to living in Azerbaijan more than six months previously.
Local authorities have also organized raids on peaceful religious meetings held by Jehovah’s Witnesses in private homes. In Baku, on June 3, nine of the males who were attending such a meeting were taken to the police station, where they were verbally and physically mistreated. Included in that number were two 17-year-olds and one who was not yet a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Police told them that the religious meeting was unlawful and tried to force them to renounce their faith and to accept the teachings of Islam. The police also threatened the detainees that they would be put in prison and raped. Gradually, however, the men were released.
On June 11 in a suburb of Baku, some 15 policemen carried out a raid on another meeting in the home of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Literature and documents were confiscated and 30 persons, including children and pregnant women, were taken into custody. Eventually all were released, but only after some had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
Since Azerbaijan is a signatory to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Jehovah’s Witnesses are entitled to protection of freedom of religion under Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the Convention. The 776 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan, and millions of peace-loving individuals around the globe, hope that the government of Azerbaijan will abide by its obligation to ensure freedom of worship.
Contact in USA: Gregory Allen, Associate General Counsel Telephone: +845-306-0711
Contact in Europe: Marcel Gillet, European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone 32 2 782 0015