United States of America

There is overwhelming evidence that the institutions of the state of Azerbaijan are being used to perpetrate injustice and suppress a peaceful religious minority, which does no harm to the daily life of the nation.

While the capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku, hosted the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, a showcase to improve its Government’s international image, suppression of and discrimination against a small minority of Protestant Christians is going unheeded.

Such suppression persists in many forms, including laws and judicial decisions which, in their conception or enforcement, are neither general nor neutral. Numerous court cases have demonstrated that the Azerbaijani courts have allowed themselves to be used as tools of the Government in its repression of the media, opposition and civic society.

On 25 April 2012, a Court in Azerbaijan ordered closure of the Greater Grace Protestant Church in Baku. The Court’s decision was based on the allegation that the Church failed to re-register its license, despite the fact that all necessary papers were submitted by the Church in good time. The decision of the Court means that any activity the Church engages in would be illegal and subject to severe punishment. This forced liquidation of a religious group in the country came as a result of the harsh new Religion Law which was passed in 2009.

The decision means there will be no freedom of religion in Azerbaijan without state authorization. The first minority already affected is Protestant Christians and it means that all religious activities by Greater Grace Protestant Church members and other churches will be deemed illegal in the future.

While taking legal action against the Church, the Government authorities have also committed serious breaches of procedural law of the state. The decision of the Court was made despite these breaches.

Full Text of the Petition.
This petition is launched by Wade Kusack, Russian Ministries’ Project Manager for Religious Freedom Issues in Eurasia, who was assisted by Alexander Spak, an English Barrister (LLB (Hons), LLM (Int. BL)).
Russian Ministries is committed to lending its time and effort generously to serve Christians across the globe, helping them stay ahead of developments in their own nations and equipping the Next Generation of Christian leaders worldwide.

We, the undersigned, call on the Congress to demand from the Government of Azerbaijan to implement the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, bring the country’s laws into compliance with the Declaration and allow Protestant Churches and their members to continue peaceful existence and free practice of their faith.

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The Stop government-sanctioned suppression of religious freedom in Azerbaijan petition to Azerbaijan was written by Wade Kusack and is in the category Religion at GoPetition.