Azerbaijan: Arif Yunus a human rights activist turned 60

Arif Yunus
Head of the Department of Conflict and 
Migration Institute of Peace and Democracy
Ph.D. in History and conflicts,
Member of the Council of the Association
for Human Rights in Central Asia, 

Members of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia express their respect and congratulate our colleague, a prisoner of conscience, Arif Yunus on his birthday. On 12 January 2015 he turned 60 years old.

Since 5 August 2014 Arif Yunus is held in the detention centre of the Ministry of Security of Azerbaijan. He is isolated and held in conditions comparable to abuse and it is undermining his health. His blood pressure often rises. The complete absence of information about the prisoner's wife and lack of perspectives of justice brought depression and it is having a tall on his health. Shortly before his arrest, he was in the hospital with a diagnosis of pre-stoke condition. Petitions of lawyers to change the measure of restraint went unheeded.

His wife, Leyla Yunus is in pre-trial detention centre of Baku. According to people who have seen her recently, she was reported to have a great difficulty in moving because of immobility of her left leg, her eye-sight is getting worse. Her body is exhausted and practically no longer can take any food.

During the five months of imprisonment of Arif and Leyla Yunus, three lawyers were taken off the case only for the fact that they fulfilled their professional duties. Over the entire period of the imprisonment, the investigator carried out only one interview; at all other times, the course of the investigation is not clear either to the detainees or their lawyers.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur of the European Union for Human Rights, the European Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the democratic community to press for immediate release of Arif and Leyla Yunus. We also urge the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan to pay special attention to the situation of the prisoners Arif and Leyla Yunus because of deterioration of their health.

We ask the US Ambassador to make the terms of their release clear – there is no investigation and there should not be one.