The Senate Human Rights Caucus
Co-Chairs Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Chris Coons invite you to join us for a special congressional briefing
Human Rights in Azerbaijan: A Pre-Election Preview
Wednesday, October 28
325 Russell Senate Office Building
On November 1, Azerbaijan will hold parliamentary elections in the midst of a systematic crackdown on civil society. As the Azerbaijani government continues to pursue an assertive PR campaign in Washington and Europe, it denies there are political prisoners. Yet, in a one year period, civil society in Azerbaijan has experienced an unprecedented and swift assault – dozens of journalists, human rights defenders, and political and religious activists are behind bars on false charges. Many have been mistreated and are suffering potentially fatal health consequences, including human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus. U.S. civil society and media organizations have been shut down and their employees harassed and arrested, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, and reports about harassment and imprisonment of local election monitors in Azerbaijan continue to surface in the media.
This briefing will seek to examine the current political environment in Azerbaijan and address important questions, including: What do the November 1 elections mean for the future of democratic governance in Azerbaijan? What rights violations are occurring? What does the apparent drift from Western values mean for the Azerbaijan’s strategic partnership with the U.S.? How does corruption in Azerbaijan impact U.S. interests? Is current U.S. foreign policy toward Azerbaijan effectively promoting U.S. values and protecting U.S. interests? How can policymakers support human rights in Azerbaijan and encourage a reliable partnership that is advantageous for both countries?
Dinara Yunus, daughter of imprisoned Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus
Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich, former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Miriam Lanskoy, National Endowment for Democracy
Tamara Grigoryeva, Freedom House
David Kramer, The McCain Institute for International Leadership
Freedom House | National Endowment for Democracy | Reporters Without Borders