Azerbaijan. The political repression of the opposition
continued during the year. The authorities closed a mosque
in Baku in March, where the imam was an open critic of
President Ilham Alijev.
Following a lengthy trial, in October seven leading
opposition politicians were sentenced to imprisonment for
involvement in the violent riots following the 2003
presidential elections. According to
CountryAAH, the total population in Azerbaijan is 10,139,188 people in 2020.
The OSCE expressed concern over the
The riots in 2003 targeted the regime, which was accused
of electoral fraud when Ilham Aliyev was proclaimed superior
victor in the presidential election. According to a report
released in 2004 by Human Rights Watch, the regime, in
connection with the election, conducted mass arrests devoted
to stifling the opposition and the media.
In May, President Aliyev warned that his country was
ready to go back to war with Armenia. The statement came on
the tenth anniversary of the ceasefire between the two
countries that closed in 1994, when Azerbaijan had lost the
Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Aliyev said he was trying to reach
a peaceful solution to the conflict, but said his army was
prepared to "liberate" the area. Despite negotiations in
September between the presidents of the two countries, the
peace process seemed to stand still.
In its conclusion, in October 2016, the United Nations
Human Rights Committee called on the Azerbadjan authorities
to suspend their "suppression of public associations and
ensure that they can operate freely without risk of abuse
against their legitimate activities".
Azerbadjan was further pressured in the conflict around
Nagorno-Karabakh when the outbreak republic in February 2017
conducted a referendum on a constitutional amendment. 90% of
the votes cast supported the change, which meant that the
area changed its name to the Republic of Artsakh. Azerbadjan
condemned the vote and issued arrest warrants against the
members of the European Parliament who had participated as
election observers. OSCE who is the official mediator in the
conflict stated that the voting result would not change the
status of the area. Other countries condemned the vote. The
de-facto republic remained internationally unrecognized.
In March 2017, President Aliyev conducted a state visit
to France. met with a number of large French companies. He
took the opportunity to criticize a number of companies for
having activities in Nagorno-Karabakh, which according to.
he was in violation of international law. France was
interested in orders for Azerbadjan, and President Holande
declared at a press conference afterwards that the status
quo in Nagorno-Karabakh is "unacceptable". He urged the US
and Russia to participate in resolving the conflict. In his
address to the UN General Assembly in September, Aliyev
criticized that the four UN Security Council resolutions of
1993 on unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces had
not yet been implemented.