Members of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia (AYF-AU) and the Armenian Students Association (ASA) staged a silent protest on Friday 27th January, at the Embassy of Belarus in Canberra, Armenia Online reports.
They demanded that Belarus uphold the rights of freedom of speech by accepting Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin’s appeal against the summons issued by Azerbaijan.
The Armenian National Committee of Australia earlier condemned the government of Belarus for accepting to extradite a blogger to Azerbaijan.
“The Armenian National Committee of Australia calls on the Australian government, as well as all human rights and civil liberty organisations in Australia and internationally, to join us in condemning this blatant act of the Azerbaijani dictatorship in attempting to ‘export’ its repression of freedom of speech,” stated ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian.
Kahramanian added: “It must not be allowed to succeed nor encouraged.”
“Azerbaijan’s record as a persecutor of press freedom is renowned, and the acceptance of this extradition request by the government of Belarus makes it complicit in Lapshin’s inevitable fate,” said AYF-AU’s Aram Tufenkjian.
“We are staging a silent protest at the Embassy of Belarus in Canberra against the silence that the Belarus government is allowing Aliyev to impose. The world needs the likes of Alexander Lapshin to expose dictatorships like Aliyev, who rules his citizens with an iron fist, while butchering Armenian soldiers every day despite an internationally negotiated ceasefire.”
Alex Galitsky of the ASA, who represented the Office of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) in Australia at the Protest, highlighted the inequitable charges being pursued against Lapshin by Azerbaijan.
“The specific clauses in the Azeri criminal code Lapshin supposedly violated – clause 281.2, forbidding the public call or support for harming the ‘territorial integrity’ of Azerbaijan; and clause 318.2, which forbids crossing Azerbaijan’s political borders without express permission – demonstrate how violations of the right to freedom of speech and freedom of movement are legally enshrined in Azeri penal code,” Galitsky explained.
“The sentences for each violation are 5-8 years for the first clause, and up to 5 years for the second. This potentially means a total of 13 years imprisonment for doing nothing more than calling for self-determination and security for the people of Artsakh, and the provision of basic human rights to the people of Azerbaijan.”