Norway concerned over jailing of Azerbaijani pro-democracy activist

‘The jailing of Rasul Jafarov adds to our concern over the situation for democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan,’ said State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen.

The Azerbaijani pro-democracy activist Rasul Jafarov was on Thursday sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment. Mr Jafarov became internationally known through his 'Sing for Democracy' campaign, which he launched in connection with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in 2012. He was planning a similar initiative in the lead-up to the major sporting event European Games, to be held in Baku this summer.

Rasul Jafarov is one of the most courageous and outspoken young pro-democracy activists in Azerbaijan. What the country needs is a free and dynamic civil society, not more pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders behind bars. We are particularly concerned about the situation of several of the imprisoned activists who need medical care, such as Leyla and Arif Yunus. Azerbaijan must fulfil its obligations to respect fundamental human rights,’ said Mr Pedersen.