Azerbaijani human rights defender (HRD) Anar Mammadli has been awarded the prestigious Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in honour of an outstanding contribution to civil society in the defence of human rights. Imprisoned on trumped-up charges by the authorities, Mammadli could not accept the award himself, and so his father, Asaf Mammadov, accepted on his son's behalf.
Although the movement for human rights has been weakened in our country, there is no other option but to continue on this path.
Anar Mammadli is chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS), an organisation that has been carrying out independent election monitoring in Azerbaijan since 2001, including independent observations of the recent Presidential elections on 9 October 2013, for which it reported widespread irregularities and fraud during balloting and vote counting. On 16 December 2013, he was ordered to serve three months of pre-trial detention by the Nasimi District Court in Baku, accused of running "business activity without registration". The pre-trial detention and criminal charges brought against Anar are directly linked to his legitimate human rights work as an election monitor, and a reprisal for a critical assessment conducted by EMDS of Presidential elections of October 2013. On 26 August 2015, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld a sentence of five and a half years in prison against human rights defender Mr Anar Mammadli.