Azerbaijan Shuts Down Free Thought University Funded by West

11 Apr
Photo by Google

Photo by Google

Azerbaijan closed the Free Thought University, a Western-funded project to promote democracy and human rights, after the government stepped up pressure on opposition groups before presidential election in October.

Prosecutors arrived at the university in Baku, the Azeri capital, without warning, closing it down and sealing its doors, AFU, as the institute is known, said on its Facebook Inc.

Eldar Sultanov, spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, didn’t answer telephone calls or e-mailed requests for comment immediately.

AFU was established in 2009 by the Ol! youth group, which means “Be” in Azerbaijani, to organize interactive classes on topics including democracy, human rights and gender equality. It is funded by the U.S. and U.K. embassies in Baku, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other Western organizations.

President Ilham Aliyev who succeeded his late father in disputed elections in 2003, is expected to run for a third term in office in the Oct. 15 poll.

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