Azerbaijan: Press release: Concerns over the deterioration of the health of Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunusov and Anar Mammadli while in arbitrary detentionParis-Geneva, February 13, 2015 - The
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of
the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation
Against Torture (OMCT), is deeply concerned over the reported health status of
three human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Azerbaijan.
The Observatory has been informed about
the serious health condition of Ms. Leyla Yunus, Director of the
Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) and a member of OMCT General Assembly,
whose pre-trial detention was extended until February 28, 2015. The health
status of Mr. Arif Yunusov, husband of Ms. Yunus and Head of the
Conflictology Department of IPD, also in pre-trial detention, and that of Mr. Anar
Mammadli, Chairperson of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies
Centre (EMDSC), sentenced in May 2014 by the Court on Grave Crimes to 5,5
years’ imprisonment, is also preoccupying.
According to the information received, Ms.
Leyla Yunus is suffering from a medical condition known as hepatomegaly - a
liver enlargement and deterioration. She was examined in December 2014 by a
German doctor, Christian Witt, whose official results have not been made
public. Ms. Yunus' lawyer, who visited her on February 8, reported that she was
preoccupied over the lack of information about the doctor's diagnosis, that she
was suffering from sight problems, and that she was continuing to lose weight.
Ms. Yunus, who was previously denied access to medication by the prison
authorities, has lost 16 kilograms since her arrest. She also suffers from
severe diabetes and is being denied special parcels of food.
According to the same information, Mr.
Arif Yunusov is also facing poor health conditions, as he is currently on drugs
against insomnia, and suffers from high blood pressure. The Observatory recalls
that there is very little information available regarding the situation of Mr.
Arif Yunusov since he is being held at the Investigative Prison
of the Ministry of National Security, the only remaining prison in Azerbaijan
which is not subordinated to the Ministry of Justice. This situation puts him
at a high risk of facing torture and ill treatment and the absence of a proper
medical unit in this prison has been denounced by various international human
rights bodies such as the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) or the European Committee
for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
The Observatory is further concerned over
reports regarding the health condition of Mr. Anar Mammadli, who is serving a
prison sentence in Jail number 13, located in an unfavourable environment
surrounded by polluted waters. As a consequence of water contamination, Mr.
Mammadli has developed allergies, and is currently receiving treatment.
However, his requests to the prison administration to change cell have remained
The Observatory calls upon the authorities
in Azerbaijan to ensure Ms. Leyla Yunus', Mr. Arif Yusunov's, and Mr. Anar
Mammadli's physical and psychological integrity by providing them adequate
medical care, and calls for their immediate release as their detention only
aims at sanctioning their human rights activities, amidst a wave of increasing
repression against civil society organisations and representatives in
The Observatory also calls for the
immediate release of the other arbitrarily detained defenders Khadija Ismailova,
Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Bashir Suleymani and Hilal
For more information, please contact:
FIDH: Audrey Couprie/Arthur Manet: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 24