Karabakh Freer Than Azerbaijan According to Freedom House Survey



WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) — Nagorno-Karabakh remains a “partly free” territory governed by a less repressive administration than Azerbaijan, the U.S. human rights group Freedom House said in an annual survey released this week.

Freedom House evaluated “political rights” and “civil liberties” in 195 countries and 15 territories, including Karabakh, on a 7-point scale, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free. It again rated both Karabakh and Armenia “partly free” and kept Azerbaijan in the “not free” category of nations surveyed.

What is more, the “Freedom in the World 2016” survey further downgraded Azerbaijan’s ratings, giving the authorities in Baku a median score of 6.5.

“Azerbaijan’s political rights rating declined from 6 to 7 due to an intensified crackdown on dissent, widespread irregularities surrounding the November parliamentary elections, and serious violations of the right to a fair trial in cases against journalists, opposition activists, and human rights defenders,” it explained.

“President Ilham Aliyev’s government used the polls to show its teeth to the democratic world, barring several foreign journalists from covering the process and imposing restrictions on international observer groups that led some to suspend their monitoring missions,” adds the report.

By comparison, Karabakh’s political rights and civil liberties ratings remained unchanged at 5.

Freedom House upgraded the status of the Armenian-populated unrecognized republic, which broke away from Azerbaijani rule in the early 1990s, from “not free” to “partly free” in 2013. The watchdog attributed that to Karabakh’s “competitive” July 2012 presidential election which it said featured a “genuine opposition.”

The Azerbaijani government on Thursday condemned the U.S. watchdog’s latest evaluations of Azerbaijan and especially Karabakh. “Setting aside the separatist regime created in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in the latest annual report is yet another instance of bias shown by Freedom House,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said, according to the APA news agency.

Hajiyev said that previous reports also exposed “Freedom House’s biased attitude towards Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

Like other Western human rights groups, Freedom House has repeatedly decried the arrests and imprisonment of dozens of Aliyev critics in recent years. In 2014, it urged the United States and the European Union to consider imposing sanctions on Azerbaijani officials involved in human rights abuses.


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  1. Norserunt said:

    In Western parlance: the term “free” simply means under Western occupation; “not free” means politically independent from Western control; and “partially free” means not yet fully under Western occupation.

    Suggestion: Stop wasting time regurgitating politically motivated nonsense put out by Western imperialists and realize that had Armenia been “free” as per Western dictates Armenia would not exist today. Armenia cannot afford making the mistakes made by Serbians, Georgians and Ukrainians. Armenia’s main problem is not its so-called “oligarchs” (most nations have oligarchs much worst than our own) or the lack of “freedom” or “democracy” (Armenia is unfortunately most politically free than most Western nations). Armenia’s most pressing problem is its geographical position as a landlocked nation stuck in a very violent neighborhood surrounded by Turkic/Islamic predators. Armenia needs to stop its counterproductive flirtations with the political West and begin concentrating its efforts on strengthening its ties with Russia and Iran.

  2. Original Armenian said:

    Is not Iran a theocratic Islamic predator who has perpetuated the carnage in the Middle East? Isn’t Russia now, as well as in the past, been imperialistic in nature? Do you really believe either one truly cares about the plight of Armenia and its well being?

    No one is advocating surrendering to the West. Rapprochement is merely for economic gain. As the old saying goes, “In the haste to escape the rain, they ran into hail”