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Azerbaijani activists launch campaign to free activist Anar Mammadli ahead of COP29

4 July 2024
Anar Mammadli is one of the founders of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre. Photo: Najmin Kamilsoy.

A Geneva-based rights group has launched a campaign on behalf of Azerbaijani activists, calling for the release of detained pro-democracy activist Anar Mammadli ahead of COP29.

The Free Anar Mammadli Campaign to End Repression in Azerbaijan was launched by the Progress and Change Action Lab on behalf of anonymous Azerbaijani activists.

‘The Anar Mammadli Campaign to End Repression in Azerbaijan is a joint project of Azerbaijani human rights defenders and NGOs. The members of the Steering Committee of the Campaign wish for their names to not be made public, whether they are today in prison or continue to live in Azerbaijan’, read the campaign’s press release.

Since November 2023, Azerbaijan has raided several independent media outlets, detaining journalists and political activists. Mammadli, a pro-democracy activist and election monitor, was detained in April 2024 on smuggling charges, as part of the government’s crackdown on independent news outlet AbzasMedia.

Asked why the campaign focused on Mammadli’s release, Florian Irminger, the chair of the Progress and Change Action Lab, told OC Media that Mammadli is a ‘uniting figure and he is a uniting figure also nationally for civil society.’

‘We have two aims. One is to put the situation in Azerbaijan back on the international agenda. The secondary aim is to raise awareness about a number of individual cases’, he said.

Irminger said that the campaign was organised as a steering committee consisting of seven members ‘linked to different human rights organisations’.


‘For Azerbaijan it is quite a broad coalition, and what I also think is important is […] these are all well-known, prominent human rights defenders’.

He said that the campaign intends to raise awareness about ‘journalists, human rights defenders, political activists, and youth activists who are arbitrarily detained’.

Irminger highlighted that Mammadli was arrested a month after founding the Climate Justice Initiative in Azerbaijan, which was founded by a group of NGOs in the country. Irminger added that he had advised the NGOs prior to the launch of the initiative.

Azerbaijan has faced growing criticism for its crackdown on media and civil society. Irminger argued that the government’s arrest of Mammadli and broader crackdown on civil society undermined the country’s credibility as a COP29 host.

‘I think there was an idea [that] this coalition around the Climate Justice Initiative can work positively also with governmental actors to reach these benchmarks’, he said of the initiative.

‘And that is really the aim of this campaign; if you arrest Anar Mamadi because he wants to work on climate justice and he believes that is at the core of the way forward for Azerbaijan, then we need to tell you, you need to release Anar Mammadli, but you need to release the other political prisoners too, and then we can talk about [matters of] substance again.’

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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