Washington DC—Crude Accountability is deeply concerned about the detention of opposition leader Tofiq Yugublu who is currently in pre-trial detention in Baku, Azerbaijan on trumped-up charges of hooliganism. We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Yugublu. It is alarming that during the coronavirus pandemic, the Azerbaijani government has chosen to clamp down on the opposition. Mr. Yugublu is a member of the Musavat party and the National Council of Democratic Forces in Azerbaijan.
On March 22rd, Yugublu was sitting in his parked car in Baku when another car collided into it. According to an account by his daughter, Nigyar Khazi, several people exited the other vehicle and began to attack Yugublu. The police detained Mr. Yugublu and not the other party. Yugublu’s lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, was not allowed to meet with him that evening at the police station, which is a gross violation of Yugublu’s rights. He is currently in pre-trial detention for 3 months and faces up to 6 years in prison if found guilty of hooliganism for allegedly beating up a man and a woman in the other car.
Crude Accountability urges western governments, including the US and members of the European Union, to urgently raise this case with the Azerbaijani authorities and call for Yugublu’s immediate and unconditional release.
On March 19, Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev stated that he may start “isolation” of opposition leaders, not for health reasons, but because “[w]e cannot allow the anti-Azerbaijani forces, the fifth column, national traitors, taking advantage of this situation, to commit any provocation.” On March 10th, Azerbaijani authorities closed down the office of the opposition D18 Movement under the pretext of combatting the coronavirus.
Unless democratic countries take action, President Aliyev’s government will continue to clamp down on the opposition at a time when all efforts need to be focused on battling the global health crisis caused by COVID 19.
For more information contact:
Director, South Caspian Energy and Environment
+1 202 320 6225