Single Step joined the following open letter:
To Ekaterina Zaharieva,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of Bulgaria
in regards to the information about an organised repression of LGBTI activists in the Republic of Azerbaijan
We would like to make an appeal with this open letter and express our shock and concern in regard to the violence and torment of representatives of the LGBTI community in Azerbaijan. According to reports of local media, and Azeri and foreign non-profit organizations, more than a hundred gay people have been arrested in the last couple of days, have been humiliated, beaten up and tormented. The Azeri activist Javid Nabiyev shared information about people being detained for weeks, during which they were forced to point out names of other gay and trans people.
The information for those events was published first on the website of the Swedish human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders. Afterwards the news was covered by Euronews, NBC and the Russian section of BBC. Azeri media does not present a realistic and objective information and treats the local institutions as innocent, and their acts – as protecting the law and order, the public morals and the citizens’ health.
Azerbaijan is a member state of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention bans such acts by representatives of authorities and binds the signatory states to undertake measures for their cessation. Azerbaijan is a member state of the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan receives funding from the structural funds of the European Union and 65% of its GDP is from imports from EU member states.
As human rights activists we are deeply concerned about this situation and we are worried that Bulgarian institutions do not have a firm stance in regard to what is happening with representatives of the LGBTI community in the region. Those events are far from unexpected and are not the first ones in which gay men and LGBTI people are being discriminated, beaten up and tormented. After the events in Chechnya, Azerbaijan is yet another example for an escalation of the same type of hatred, which is being practiced in a couple of other neighboring countries. We are concerned that if there are no firm actions to condemn and oppose those acts of brutality, a further escalation of violence is quite possible.
Both Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have signed international agreements, including the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Those agreements prohibit such actions by the authorities and oblige the signatory states to undertake measures for their ceasing or prevention.
We are calling for the Bulgarian government to explicitly condemn the described events in Azerbaijan. We are encouraging you, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to use all your diplomatic means, including officially addressing the Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Bulgaria with a request to stop those violent and tormenting acts, as well as illegal and groundless detainment of LGBTI people by Azeri authorities.
Victor Lilov, LGBTI person of "Deystvie" for 2014
Svetla Encheva, LGBTI person of "Deystvie" for 2016
Veneta Limberova, Chairperson of "Deystvie"
Monika Pisankaneva, Chairperson of "Bilitis“
Simeon Vassilev, Chaipreson of "GLAS"
Nikoleta Gabrovska, Executive Director of Single Step
Radoslav Stoyanov, human rights activist
Darina Ivanova, human rights activist