New Adopted Prisoner of Conscience
Following the good news that our adopted Turkmen Prisoners of Conscience, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, have been released, Sutton Coldfield Amnesty Group has started work on behalf of a new Prisoner of Conscience: photo journalist and human rights defender Mehman Huseynov from Azerbaijan.
Mehman Huseynov works for the Institute of Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), documenting the harassment, assault and imprisonment of critical journalists by the Azerbaijani authorities. During the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, he was the Media Coordinator for the campaign group Sing for Democracy, which sought to use Eurovision to attract international attention to human rights abuses perpetrated by the government.
He was arrested on 12th June 2012 and charged with 'hooliganism'. If convicted, he faces up to five years imprisonment. The charge relates to an incident during a protest he was covering as a journalist on 21st May 2012; however, police claims that he acted violently are contradicted by eyewitness reports that he did nothing violent, which seem to be confirmed by video footage.
Amnesty believes that the charge against Mehman Huseynov was fabricated to punish him for using the Eurovision Song Contest to highlight human rights concerns to international media. Amnesty is concerned that, given the Azerbaijini authorities' continued persecution of human rights defenders, it is extremely likely that he will be convicted following an unfair trial.
Mehman himself has said: 'I believe that the case against me is politically motivated. I sort of expected this due to my part in human rights campaigning and journalistic work during Eurovision, but not [ for it to happen] so soon afterwards.'
Sutton Coldfield Amnesty Group will be calling for the charges against Mehman Huseynov to be dropped immediately and unconditionally. We will also be calling for Mehman Huseynov to be able to carry out his work as a human rights defender without fear of reprisals and for an end to the politically motivated trials of human rights defenders and activists.