Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Media Rights Institute (MRI) strongly condemn the arrest of young activists Emin Milli (Emin Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade, who are known for their new initiatives in Azerbaijan’s civil journalism.

On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., “Alumni Network” Youth Organization Coordinator, ANTV Online TV Leader Emin Milli and one of “OL” Youth Organization’s coordinators, well-known video-blogger Adnan Hajizade were sitting at a table in a restaurant along with several other young adults, discussing the activity of youth organizations related to the internet, when two people that looked like sportsmen came up to them, insulted them, and demanded that they stop talking about politics. Then they attacked Emin and Adnan, causing physical injuries. Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli sustained several injuries, and the restaurant staff and other youth interfered to save them from attackers. Adnan Hajizade’s nose was broken and he sustained bruising on his face, around his eyes and on other parts of his body. It is said that Emin Milli sustained several injuries to his face, and possibly a crack one of the bones in his foot.

Victims Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade appealed to police immediately and asked for medical assistance at the police department, however they were not provided with any assistance. Adnan and Emin demanded a lawyer and their lawyers went to the police department to represent the youth, however police did not let allow the lawyers to see Adnan of Emin. Although they appealed to police as victims, police detained Adnan and Emin under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code after five hours of interrogation and freed the attackers.   
Police have not provided any official information about the detention of Hajizade and Milli, and for 17 hours the youth were deprived of the opportunity to meet with their lawyers.  Although the incident occurred on 8 July at 8 p.m., the lawyers only finally met with Adnan and Emin today, 9 July, at 3 p.m.  
IRFS and MRI believe that these unlawful actions of the police and the people that beat the Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli violate Adnan and Emin’s rights envisaged in Azerbaijan’s Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention, as well as rights and freedoms envisaged in other international documents. Specifically, MRI and IRFS, believe that the right to freedom of expression, right to freedom and inviolability, prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment, right to legal defense, and not to be subject to discrimination due to their socio-political views and work have been violated in this case.

IRFS and MRI declare that the real reason for the detention of Emin MIlli and Adnan Hajizade is their promotion of free thought and nonconformist ideas among youth. On the charges of hooliganism, Emin and Adnan could be imprisoned for up to five years according to Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code. An analogous case to this one occurred in Azerbaijan at the end of 2007 when well-known “Azadliq” Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Ganimat Zahid, who was severely critical of the government, was imprisoned for 4.5 years on charges of hooliganism. Zahid, who is internationally recognized as a prisoner of conscience, remains wrongfully imprisoned on trumped up charges of hooliganism to this day.  
IRFS and MRI call on Azerbaijan’s government to immediately free Emin and Adnan and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those people who committed provocation this provocation and inflicted seriously bodily harm against the two youth activists.
IRFS and MRI call on the international community to demand that Azerbaijan’s government release Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli immediately. 

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