Targeted sanctions part of the solution

- Western democracies should impose targeted sanctions against the Azerbaijani elite. Statements of concerns from European leaders are only benefitting the Aliyev regime said Vugar Gojayev, human rights defender in exile and NHC project coordinator in the discussion after the screening of Amazing Azerbaijan at the Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival on Saturday.

The screening was part of the NHC event Europe Without Political Prisoners –An Illusion or Worth Fighting For?, which was our contribution to the Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival 2015. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has been a partner of the Human Rights Human Wrongs documentary film festival since the start in 2008, and this year’s festival was no exception.

– There are nearly a 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, while the governement says there are none. Civil society in Azerbaijan is being crushed and the country is increasingly taking the appearance of a dictatorship. Europe can no longer tolerate this, said Senior Advisor Berit Lindeman in her introduction to the movie.

The main venue of this year festival was Filmens hus Cinemateket, and for five days the venue was a bustling hub of sold out movies, debates and workshops. Human Rights Human Wrongs documentary film festival has succeeded in becoming one of the main forums for discussions and focus on human rights in Norway. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to be a partner ofthe festival.

At the event, we also screened excerpts from the films 1050 Days of Solitude and Turkmenistan: Life behind bars. Two movies that show the grim reality of the dictatorships in Belarus and Turkmenistan.

The screenings were followed by a discussion with Turkmenistan: Life behind bars-director, Ruslan Myatiev, and Natalia Pinchuk, wife of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and main caracter in 1050 Days of Solitude, in addition to Vugar Gojayev.

– The fact that there are fewer political prisoners in Belarus than in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan is a clear sign that sanctions are working, said Natalia Pinchuk when she was asked her view on wether or not sanctions is a useful tool to free the political prisoners in Europe.

– Stability based on blood and terror is a fake stability. Human rights violations is a sign of instability, and Western countries should not cooperate with regimes that uses terror against their own people said Ruslan Myatiev in the discussion.