[:en]About a dozen demonstrators gathered outside the Azeri Embassy in Washington D.C, on Friday as anti-corruption blogger Mehman Huseynov has entered the fourth week of hunger strike in a Baku jail, to protest new trumped up charges that may delay his release from prison.
“Freedom of Expression cannot be silenced… We demand immediate and unconditional release of Mehman Huseynov, and all other political prisoners in Azerbaijan,” said rally organizer Kate Watters, executive director of Crude Accountability, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that is focused on environmental-justice issues near the Caspian Sea.
“They have not done anything wrong. They have not broken laws… All they have done is fulfill their responsibilities as citizens to expose the corruption and the improper use of the resources that they’ve seen.” she added. “And we around the world are standing in solidarity with them,”
Another protester Karl Horberg of Freedom Now, added that the international community “cannot allow the government of Azerbaijan to decide that journalism is a crime and to keep their citizens behind bard for as many years as they want.”
Several political prisoners, along with activists and opposition figures, have been on hunger strike in Baku, in solidarity with Mehman Huseynov. The move has reportedly cautioned other political detainees against waiting for help from the West.
Back in Washington, protesters also called upon the U.S. policymakers, and international financial institutions to “stand behind their commitments to human rights, pluralism and democracy, and to stop cooperating with the Azeri regime.
“They should stop financing oil and gas that is feeding the corruption and the violations of human rights until Mehman Huseynov and all other political prisoners freed,” said Sonia Zilberman, Crude Accountability’s program director.
The Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.