The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats is calling for targeted sanctions for human rights violators in Azerbaijan, according to a statement the group published on Sunday, August 2.
S&D is the political group in the European Parliament of the Party of European Socialists (PES).
S&D Group vice-president Kati Piri reacted to unsettling developments on human rights in Azerbaijan and said they are alarmed by credible reports of severe torture inflicted by Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies on Fuad Gahramanli, the deputy chair of the opposition People’s Front of Azerbaijan (PFA) party.
"Mr. Gahramanli is one among dozens of the opposition figures arrested by the regime of President Ilham Aliyev on flimsy charges of preparing a coup, with the leader of the PFA, Ali Karimli, currently unlawfully subjected to a de-facto house arrest," Piri said.
“These reprehensible actions constitute part of a systemic pattern of intimidation, harassment and arrests of the opposition members incited by President Aliyev, who repeatedly smeared them in his speeches as a “fifth column” and “traitors”. In violation of Azerbaijani legislation and the country’s international obligations, they are denied their fundamental rights, such as contact with their lawyers and families. It is unacceptable that President Aliyev is using the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent spike in military tensions with Armenia as an excuse to wipe out what remains of the political opposition in the country."
The situation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated on July 12, with Azerbaijan launching several unsuccessful infiltration attempts throughout the next week. The Azerbaijani military also used artillery and combat drones to target civilian homes in several border settlements in Armenia. Five servicemen of the Armenian army were killed, while Azerbaijan reported 12 deaths. In recent days, though, the situation has been relatively calm.
S&D Group cited the gravity of the situation in Azerbaijan and urged the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to immediately launch an initiative to impose EU-wide targeted human rights sanctions on Azerbaijani officials responsible for the violent repression of the political opposition and civil society in the country.
Armenian lawmaker Edmon Marukyan from the opposition Bright Armenia party has welcomed the initiative, noting that the struggle of the international community against the aggressive and dictatorial authorities of Azerbaijan is "extremely important".