Plenary speech on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafiq Tagi

Marietje
Mr President, Rafiq Tagi was murdered after he exercised his universal human right of free speech. It is important that this is investigated and it is essential that the Azerbaijani authorities do so in an independent and credible manner. There is also a clear need to address the fatwa that was issued after Tagi’s critical article. It was issued by an Iranian cleric and it was not condemned sufficiently. We have to make clear that no fatwa can ever be legitimised as a licence to kill. It is regrettable also that the Azerbaijani authorities did not condemn this fatwa more strongly and publicly, and that his safety was not guarnteed. Besides the investigation by the Azerbaijani authorities, they have to decide what kind of a society they want to have and create. The murder, which can perhaps be labelled as an ‘incident’, took place in a climate of increased pressure on human rights, civil society and opposition parties, and notably liberal parties. If the authorities in Azerbaijan do not clearly choose, both in letter and in practice and application, to adhere to their commitments as members of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and to the country’s other international commitments, the EU should draw consequences. We strongly hope and encourage the Azerbaijani authorities to move forward on the path towards a freer and more just society. I am not very hopeful for any collaboration by the Iranian authorities into ascertaining the role that the Iranian cleric played, but we can and must expect more from the Azerbaijani authorities and, as the EU, use our relations with Azerbaijan to pressure them.