With the June 17-19 Formula One race in Baku drawing closer, Azerbaijani and foreign activists have tried to draw international attention to Azerbaijan’s human rights record. But do not think that the country does not have its own human rights intermediary. It does – 79-year-old Elmira Suleymanova. Controversy, however, persists about what she does to defend human rights.
Suleymanova, the former chief scientist at the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Petro-Chemical Processes and the founder of Azerbaijan’s first women’s-welfare non-governmental organization, has held her post since 2002, after parliamentary confirmation of her nomination by the late President Heydar Aliyev, the father of Azerbaijan’s current leader, President Ilham Aliyev. In the two parliamentary votes she has since undergone, no more than eight deputies have opposed her nomination.
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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.