INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

November 11th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety condemns Azerbaijan’s government for the imprisonment of “Alumni Network” Youth Organization Coordinator, AN Online Television Head Emin Milli (Abdullayev) to 2,5 years and OL Youth Organization co-coordinator Adnan Hajizade to 2 years and declares that this verdict was politically motivated.

Today, 11 November, the Sabail District Court Judge Araz Huseynov found the young bloggers guilty under the indictment of hooliganism and issued a verdict to imprison them.   
IRFS declares that although the young bloggers were accused of “hooliganism,” they were slandered and arrested for placing critical material about the government on the internet.  On 8 July Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were beaten up and received injuries after they were dragged into a provocation. Although they appealed to the police as victims, the Sabail District Police Department detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons and freed their attackers. They were placed in two months pre-trial detention and a criminal case was opened against them. The young bloggers, who received injuries were not provided with necessary medical treatment while they were held in the police department and were not allowed to see their lawyers. The investigation of the criminal case opened under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code was conducted with serious law violations and they were accused under a different article (127-inflicting intentional minor bodily harm) once the proceedings of their case had already begun. From the beginning of the investigation up to the verdict, law violations were monitored, and the evidence that the bloggers were innocent and their arrest was politically motivated emerged during all proceedings.
IRFS believes that the long-term imprisonment of the young bloggers is aimed at scaring away youth activists who have democratic ideas both on the internet and in regular life. In addition, this is intended to prevent those having new and alternative opinions in Azerbaijan from criticizing the government via new media during the run-up to the 2009 municipality elections and 2010 parliamentary elections.  The right for youth to be able to voice these opinions is very important in the socio-political life of Azerbaijan.  
IRFS reminds the Azerbaijani administration that as a government Azerbaijan made commitments to secure the right to freedom of expression and human rights. Azerbaijan signed numerous international agreements and documents in this area. By throwing these people with democratic ideas into jail, Azerbaijan’s government damages the international image of Azerbaijan, and weakens of Azerbaijan’s national interests in the international arena from day to day.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government again to immediately annul this politically motivated verdict against the young bloggers and release them. IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government to immediately release the other five journalists (Eynulla fatullayev, Ganimat zahid, Mushfig Huseynov, faramaz Allahverdiyev and sardar Alibeyli), whose arrests are also politically motivated.
IRFS calls upon the international community to demand that Azerbaijan’s government respect freedom of speech and other human rights and adhere to the country’s commitments in this area.