Alert Türkiye: Jailed, a woman human rights activist tells her story (video)
Urgent Interventions

Leyla and Arif Yunus finally out of the country to receive urgent medical treatment

Geneva-Paris,April 19, 2016 - Human rights defenders Leyla andArif Yunus were today allowed to travel abroad to receive urgent medicaltreatment after almost two years in jail and house arrest. The Observatory(OMCT-FIDH partnership) now calls on the Azeri authorities to permit otherhuman rights defenders recently released to receive urgent medical care abroad.

Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute forPeace and Democracy (IPD) and a member of OMCT General Assembly, and Arif Yunusov, Head of IPD ConflictologyDepartment, had in November and December 2015 respectively been assigned tohouse arrest after spending nearly one year and a half in jail. Today, theywere finally allowed to travel to The Netherlands, where they could reunite with their daughter, before going to Germany to receiveurgent surgery and medical treatment for severe chronic conditions.

Weare delighted that Leyla and Arif Yunus were at last allowed to travel abroad to receive life-saving treatment.But we once more condemn the Azeri authorities for this slow decision and holdthem responsible for the deterioration of their health condition during theirarbitrary detention”,said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. Theirsentences should also be quashed”.

Arif Yunusovsuffers from hypertension, and Leyla Yunus from hepatitis, diabetes,pancreatitis and gallstone disease, which only got worse during her detention.Yet, on February 11 and March 11, 2016 respectively, the Yasamal District Courtof Baku and the Court of Appeals in Baku had denied the Yunus couple permissionto temporarily leave the country to receive urgent medical treatment due to theirsuspended prison terms.

Leyla Yunusand Arif Yunusov were arbitrarily detained for nearly one year and a half andsentenced to 8,5 and 7 years of imprisonment respectively on August 13, 2015,following a procedure that grossly disregarded international standards of fairtrial and due process. The Observatory reiterates its position that theirconviction had no legal grounds and merely aimed at sanctioning theirlegitimate human rights activities. On December9, 2015, their sentence was commuted to a release on probation for five years.

Theauthorities of Azerbaijan should now allow other human rights defenders who were recently released to receive urgentmedical care abroad, including journalist Rauf Mirqadirov and human rightslawyer Intigam Aliyev. The Azeri authorities should also release journalist KhadijaIsmayilova immediately and unconditionally”,said FIDH Honorary President Souhayr Belhassen.

TheObservatory more generally calls on the Azeri authorities to conform in anycircumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, aswell as international and European standards such as the European Convention onHuman Rights and to put an end to all forms of harassment - including at thejudicial level - against all human rights defenders in the country.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH.The objective of this partnership is to intervene to prevent or remedysituations of repression against human rights defenders.

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