Leyla Yunus, a prominent Human Rights activist and defender was arrested on July 30th in Baku, Azerbaijan. Her husband Arif Yunus was also arrested. Leyla was charged with a series of crimes, including high treason, espionage, illegal business activities among others. Human rights activists say the arrests are politically motivated, and part of a general effort to silence human rights defenders.
Leyla is the founding director of Peace and Democracy Institute in Baku. She has been actively involved in people-to-people diplomacy with Armenian human rights activists. Her work aims at promoting peace and dialogue, rule of law, addressing unlawful evictions, women’s rights and political prisoners freedom.
The Azerbaijani authorities have been mounting pressure on civil society activists in order to intimidate and silence them. Leyla Yunus’ arrest came shortly after her outspoken criticism of the government for the arrest of a fellow journalist, Rauf Mirgadirov. Mirgadirov was also arrested for his efforts in peace building process of the Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Yunuses. Leyla Yunus’ health has been deteriorating while in custody. She and her husband have serious health conditions.
The rapporteur on human rights defenders of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Mailis stated, “Ms Yunus’ arrest is another example of the unrelenting suppression of independent voices and crackdown on civil society in the country. This is an unacceptable violation of Azerbaijan’s duties as a member of the Council of Europe.”
Read the statement released by the Nobel Women’s Initiative about the arrests.
Azerbaijan: Leyla Yunus in failing health in prison, Amnesty International, 12 August 2014.
Azerbaijan authorities detain Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus, Human Rights House, 5 August 2014.
Azerbaijan: Leading Rights Defender Arrested, Human Rights Watch, 5 August 2014.
Write a letter of support or a postcard to Leyla and/or Aref Yunus to the address below. They will be delivered in person while in prison.
AZ1096, Azerbaijan, Baku, Kamil Balakishiyev street, h. 35, f. 32 (Khalid Bagirov for Leyla Yunus). Hint: Leila loves plants and flowers, so cards can portray them.
Write a letter of appeal to President Aliyev of Azerbaijan and copy diplomatic mission in the country
President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of Azerbaijan
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan
Fax: + 994 12 492 0625
Visit Amnesty International for further actions.