New Documentary "Close Space!" Gives an Inside Look into Azerbaijan's Civil Society

The Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS), an independent Azerbaijani non-governmental organization (NGO), recently released “Close Space!,” a new documentary about the precarious status of human rights and civil society in the oil-rich country of Azerbaijan. In the documentary, activists tell personal stories that chronicle the government’s efforts to shrink democratic space through legislative restrictions on freedom of assembly and association, rampant police harassment of human rights defenders, and attacks on NGOs’ right to access foreign-funding. Several of the political prisoners arrested in the government’s 2013 and 2014 crackdown on civil society have been released. However, many of them are subjected to travel bans. Khadija Ismayilova states in the film that the travel bans “demonstrate that Azerbaijan is not a country but a prison.” Watch the documentary here