Freedom House demands release of Azerbaijani opposition member Tofiq Yaqublu
Marc Behrendt, director of programs for Europe and Eurasia at Freedom House, demands the Azerbaijani authorities release Tofiq Yaqublu.
The court sentenced the well-known opposition member to 4 years and 3 months in prison. Yagublu is holding a hunger strike.
“The Yaqublu case reflects an increase in the crackdown on government critics and the government’s blatant disregard for freedom of speech and the rule of law. The Azerbaijani government is openly using the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions as an opportunity to silence and harass opponents. Yaqublu and dozens of other citizens arrested on politically motivated charges should be released and the charges against them dropped,” Behrendt said in a statement.
The day before the verdict was announced in court, on September 2, Tofiq Yaqublu announced the start of a hunger strike, which he continues.
Tofiq Yaqublu was detained on March 22, 2020 in Baku on charges of hooliganism. According to the materials of the criminal case, he had an accident and beat up a married couple who was in the cabin of another car.
Yaqublu served two years in 2014-2016 on charges of organizing mass actions. He then received 30 days of arrest for participating in a mass opposition protest in Baku on October 19, 2019.