Baku, March 18 (AFP/APP): Azerbaijan’s strongman President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday pardoned 38 regime critics, labelled as “political prisoners” by rights groups.
Western governments and activists have repeatedly criticised the leadership of the energy-rich Caucasus nation for jailing political opponents and critical journalists.
Thursday’s move saw a total of 625 inmates pardoned, a decree released by Aliev’s office said. “Among those pardoned, 38 people are political prisoners,” Rasul Jafarov, the director of Baku-based Human Rights Club, told AFP.
But he said the move did not “resolve the issue” of politically motivated detentions. “Prior to the amnesty, 86 people were listed as political prisoners” by Azerbaijani rights groups, he said.
Criticism of the government in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan is often met with a tough response. Rights groups have accused the authorities of using spurious charges of drugs or weapons possession, tax evasion and even treason to jail activists and journalists.
Stay tuned to Baaghi TV for updates and more news!