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Azerbaijan Chapter - 2017 Annual Report


Azerbaijan Chapter - 2017 Annual Report
Azeri Translation
Russian Translation


Key Findings

The status of religious freedom in Azerbaijan deteriorated in 2016. During the year, the Azeri government increased its repression of independent religious activity, closing Sunni mosques, raiding religious bookshops, and harassing Jehovah’s Witnesses and certain Protestant communities. While Azerbaijan is at risk from international terrorism, that danger increasingly serves as a pretext in official efforts to suppress peaceful religious dissent amidst a general crackdown on human rights. In January 2017, 18 Shi’a activists were sentenced to prison terms of between 10 and 20 years on numerous charges, including purported terrorism. A local non governmental organization coalition that monitors the status of Azerbaijan’s prisoners of conscience estimated that as of December 2016, 86 persons were imprisoned for their religious beliefs. Based on these concerns, in 2017 USCIRF again places Azerbaijan on Tier 2, where it has been since 2013.