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Aliyev Decree Frees Three Azerbaijani Activists, Many Still Jailed

A Eurasianet partner post from <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/aliyev-decree-frees-three-azerbaijani-acti…;

BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned more than 100 inmates ahead of Norouz, the New Year holiday, including three who were seen by government opponents and rights activists as political prisoners. 

Rights groups welcomed the releases but said many Azerbaijanis remain behind bars on false charges, and urged Western governments to step up pressure on the former Soviet republic to set them free.

Human Rights Watch said the pardons "signal no fundamental change in the government’s campaign to lock up and silence independent critical voices."

Amnesty International called the decree a "little gesture to appease critics" in the run-up to the 2015 European Games, which Azerbaijan will host in June.

Inmates released under a clemency decree signed by Aliyev on March 18 included Orxan Eyyubzade, a prominent blogger, Basir Suleymanli, a leader of an election-monitoring NGO, and activist Anar Qasimli.

Eyyubzade was arrested in May for taking part in an unsanctioned rally in Baku and was serving a two-year sentence for resisting police.

To read the full story

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

A Eurasianet partner post from <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/aliyev-decree-frees-three-azerbaijani-acti…;

Aliyev Decree Frees Three Azerbaijani Activists, Many Still Jailed

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