Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2016 – Intigam Aliyev

Human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev is the Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2016. Recently released from prison, he is one of several human rights defenders in Azerbaijan who has been detained for their work to promote human rights.

Over two decades Intigam Aliyev has defended numerous individuals and organisations in Azerbaijan. He has inspired a generation of young Azerbaijanis, both as a teacher and as a devoted human rights lawyer.

“This support is highly valuable because it shows our realities to the world and gives hope about the future of democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan,” said Intigam Aliyev when receiving news about his award.

In 2014 Initigam Aliyev was imprisoned together with other human rights activist in a nationwide crackdown on independent voices in Azerbaijan. Throughout his imprisonment he has refused to sign a petition for pardon, continuously stating that he has not committed any crime.

“My father dedicated his tireless and selfless work to the promotion and protection of human rights, and sacrificed his freedom for the freedom of others – just because it is important for him to stand strong for what he believes in, no matter the circumstances,” his son Necmin Kamil told Civil Rights Defenders just days before the good news reach us and fellow human rights defenders that Intigam Aliyev has been released from prison in March 2016.

Even while in prison Intigam Aliyev has continued to win cases in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). His release now sends a glimmer of hope for an improved human rights situation in Azerbaijan. But despite the recent release of Intigam Aliyev and other human rights defenders, several prisoners of conscience remain in prison in Azerbaijan.

“The 2016 Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award should also be viewed as an encouragement to human rights defenders imprisoned for their work, in Azerbaijan and elsewhere, and serve as a reminder that they are remembered and supported by their colleagues around the world”, said Robert Hårdh, Executive Director, Civil Rights Defenders.

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