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The president's claim about Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

The president's claim about Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

President Ilham Aliyev claimed in an interview with German ARD TV channel that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch did not come to Azerbaijan to report on the destructions and casualties caused by the Armenian armed forces after the outbreak of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and only covered the events from the Armenian side.

After journalist Oliver Mayer Rüth noted that Human Rights Watch was preparing to visit Azerbaijan, the President said that these organizations agreed to come after the request of the Azerbaijani side.

“They are coming because we asked, "Why don't you come here?". They agreed to come after we appealed to them, "Please come here!",” said the President.

“The Fact Check” examined whether Ilham Aliyev’s claim was true.

Let's pay attention to a point made by the President in his interview. He said: “It was yesterday, we asked them why they are not coming.” The day described by Ilham Aliyev as "yesterday" was October 27. Because the President gave this interview on October 28. Apparently, the Azerbaijani government began contacting international human rights organizations one day before the interview.

At first glance, this claim of Ilham Aliyev may seem justified. Because these organizations did not come to Azerbaijan until the date of the interview. But not everything turned out as Ilham Aliyev claimed.

On October 6, Human Rights Watch appealed to the Azerbaijani government to have access to the country. Hugh Williamson, director of the Europe and Central Asia division of the organization, said in a tweet on October 16 that they were still waiting for an answer from the Azerbaijani government.

The screenshot was taken from Hugh Williamson’s Twitter page, director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch.

Giorgi Gogia, the representative of the Human Rights Watch for the South Caucasus, told “The Fact Check” that the organization had promptly received a positive response to its appeal to the Armenian government but the Azerbaijani side had not taken the same initiative. Such that the appeal of Human Rights Watch to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Azerbaijan on October 6 was answered positively only on October 27.

Unlike Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International did not appeal to the Azerbaijani government. Levan Asatiani, the campaign coordinator of the organization for the South Caucasus, told “The Fact Check” that the Azerbaijani government had made its first contact with the secretariat of the Amnesty International through the embassy in London. 

"On October 29, Amnesty International responded positively to the invitation letter received on October 28. After that, the organization continued contacts with the embassy," Asatiani said.

The representative of the organization also clarified one point. He said that before the appeal of the embassy, the Azerbaijani side contacted them through an activist.

"We have had contacts with the Azerbaijani government at various times before, and they know how to find us. Therefore, this could not be considered an official appeal," he said.

Thus, Amnesty International did not appeal to the Azerbaijani government to assess the consequences of the war on the spot. However, the same claim cannot be attributed to Human Rights Watch. Because this organization sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry a week after the start of the war.

The Azerbaijani government expressed interest in the visit of both organizations to Azerbaijan in late October. Such that the appeal of Human Rights Watch was answered positively on October 27. One day later, the embassy in London invited Amnesty International to Azerbaijan.

In an interview, Ilham Aliyev said that the two organizations agreed to come to Azerbaijan at the invitation of the government.

“The Fact Check” concludes that the President’s claim is Manipulation of Facts

AZERTAC, President Ilham Aliyev was interviewed by German ARD TV channel

Hugh Williamson, Twitter post

Statement by Giorgi Gogia, the representative of the Human Rights Watch for the South Caucasus, to “The Fact Check”

Statement by Levan Asatiani, the campaign coordinator of the Amnesty International for the South Caucasus, to “The Fact Check”

Manipulation of facts
  • 24 November, 2020
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