Photo by Rahim Akhundov

Firing of Azerbaijan parliament staffer upheld by appeals court

BAKU, Azerbaijan — An appeals court in Azerbaijan declined on June 10 to reinstate a Christian who said he was fired from his parliament job because of his faith.

Rahim Akhundov would meet friends and relatives at his Baku home for worship and Bible study, according to Forum 18. Prior to his firing, Akhundov said State Security Service secret police surveilled those meetings, and on one occasion an SSS officer attended one on false pretenses. The secret police also allegedly recruited a meeting participant to spy on Akhundov.

Akhundov was fired from his job in December 2018 but did not receive his dismissal letter until October 2019. One parliament staffer claims Akhundov’s firing was over two mistakes he made 18 years ago in translating, which Akhundov disputes.

In Azerbaijan in 2017 and 2018, police and SSS secret police surveilled and sometimes raided religious meetings held by Christians, Muslims and other faiths; the courts fined many religious leaders and participants. (Forum 18)