The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second largest group in the European Parliament, has called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani officials responsible for the violent repression of the political opposition and civil society in the country.
“We are alarmed by credible reports of severe torture inflicted by Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies on Fuad Gahramanli, the deputy chair of the opposition People’s Front of Azerbaijan (PFA) party. Mr. Gahramanli is one among dozens of the opposition figures arrested by the regime of the President Ilham Aliyev on flimsy charges of preparing a coup, with the leader of the PFA, Ali Karimli, currently unlawfully subjected to a de-facto house arrest,” S&D group vice-president, Kati Piri, said in a statement on Sunday, reacting to unsettling developments on human rights in Azerbaijan.
“These reprehensible actions constitute part of a systemic pattern of intimidation, harassment and arrests of the opposition members incited by President Aliyev, who repeatedly smeared them in his speeches as a “fifth column” and “traitors”. In violation of Azerbaijani legislation and the country’s international obligations, they are denied their fundamental rights, such as contact with their lawyers and families. It is unacceptable that President Aliyev is using the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent spike in military tensions with Armenia as an excuse to wipe out what remains of the political opposition in the country.
“Given the gravity of the situation in Azerbaijan, we call on the Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to launch, without delay, an initiative to impose EU-wide targeted human rights sanctions on Azerbaijani officials responsible for the violent repression of the political opposition and civil society in the country,” the statement read.