WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following in response to today’s sentencing of civil society activists in Azerbaijan. Senator Cardin has been an outspoken critic of the Azerbaijani government’s crackdown on civil society. Most recently, he called on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to halt human rights abuses, respect the freedom of the press, and allow the reopening of Radio Free Europe.
“I am deeply disturbed by today’s verdict against Leyla and Arif Yunus. They have worked tirelessly over many years to peacefully bring about democratic change in Azerbaijan and they have endured just as many years of harassment by the government. Today as we condemn the harsh prison sentences they are facing, we also celebrate their strength and spirit of endurance and hope that it serves as an inspiration to others. I will continue to push for the restoration of the rule of law in Azerbaijan and the release of Leyla and Arif Yunus.”