The Republic of Azerbaijan, a country once described by a British MP as having a â€˜foul and oppressive regime surviving on propagandaâ€™ has one of the worst human rights and media crackdown records in the world, yet at the recent informal meeting of member states of the United Nations Security Council, Azerbaijan was the only Asia- pacific country to support an end to the judicial trial of president Uhuru Kenyatta at the ICC.
In Azerbaijan, journalists and writers who criticized the government are jailed on trumped-up charges. Rashad Ramazanov. a blogger who spoke against the regime on facebook and Youtube was sentenced to 9 years in prison. A pro-opposition editor of a local newspaper was jailed for four years over charges of hooliganism.
â€œAzerbaijanâ€™s ruthless and relentless attack on any dissenting voices in the media continues apace with these shameful convictions and jail sentences, which appear to be based on offences fabricated by the prosecution,â€ said John Dalhuisen of Amnesty International.
â€œRashad Ramazanov and Sardar Alibeyli are prisoners of conscience, jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and they must be immediately and unconditionally released,â€ said John Dalhuisen.
Amnesty International believes that there are at least 18 prisoners of conscience in the country, many of them jailed for speaking out against the authorities in the media.
Coming a week after Deputy President William Ruto made a scary speech at Addis Ababa where he claimed press freedom in Africa is a western construction, and the Jubilee governmentâ€™s recent attempt to muzzle the media, Kenyaâ€™s alliances with known despotic regimes in the international community continue to worry human rights activists and citizens who cherish freedom alike.