Scottish PEN joins PEN International and PEN centres around the world in expressing its great concern about the arrest and continued detention of reporter, lawyer and human rights defender Elchin Mammad.May 7, 2020
Scottish PEN joins PEN International and PEN centres around the world in expressing its great concern about the arrest and continued detention of reporter, lawyer and human rights defender Elchin Mammad.
Mammad was arrested on 30 March 2020, just days after he published a critical report on human rights in Azerbaijan, on the basis that ‘stolen jewellery’ was found at his office. The next day, Sumgait City Court remanded Mammad in custody for three months as a criminal suspect. We join PEN International in arguing that his arrest and detention are politically motivated.
Elchin Mammad is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Yukselish Namine newspaper, which supports the activities of civil society organisations in Azerbaijan and publishes articles on human rights and the importance of preserving freedom of speech, among other topics. Mammad is also a human rights lawyer and the president of the Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth (SULESY), an organisation that provides free legal assistance to low income families and local NGOs, and undertakes legal capacity-building activities for civil society actors.
Carl MacDougall, President of Scottish PEN said:
‘Elchin Mammad has been the subject of harassment by authorities for his work since 2015. His important reporting on human rights in Azerbaijan should be celebrated, not persecuted. The additional risk to Mammad’s health of remaining in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic should not be understated. Nor should the the oppressive context of police raids, independent news outlet closures and government control he and other Azerbaijani journalists operate in. Scottish PEN joins PEN International in calling for Elchin Mammad’s immediate and unconditional release’.
Scottish PEN will be sending an appeal to the Azerbaijani authorities to release Elchin Mammad, and to end the persecution of all those human rights defenders, journalists and dissident voices held in prison for having exercised their rights to freedom of expression. You can join us by sending your own appeal here: https://en.president.az/letters/new_form
Please also call on Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb to raise Elchin Mammad’s case in bilateral and multilateral fora: