Plenary speech on Azerbaijan

Mr President, while we welcome the release from prison of c and Emin Milli, the good news about Azerbaijan ends about there. The European Parliament is very concerned about the massive crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly carried out in Azerbaijan following the peaceful protest against the government in March and April of this year. Young people, civil society activists, media professionals and opposition politicians are being harassed and intimidated. Some demonstrators have been sentenced in mass trials which took place late at night and while people did not have access to a lawyer. Most of these lawyers, in turn, were not informed of the locations where the trials were being held. The Human Rights House of Azerbaijan has been closed down by order of the Ministry of Justice. This climate of fear and intimidation and the breaches of human rights must end. The Azerbaijani Government is losing its credibility by breaching conventions it has itself signed up to, such as the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. We want President Aliyev to keep his word. Europe also loses credibility if we do not act upon these breaches. They should have real consequences for the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan.