RAPPORTEURS CONCERNED ABOUT SITUATION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN AZERBAIJAN

July 29th, 2009
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Special Rapporteur on Azerbaijan Andreas Herkel told Austrian “Der Standart” newspaper that oil and gas business has strengthened government administration only in Azerbaijan, according to Radio Liberty. A.Herkel emphasized that the latest incidents like the arrest of young bloggers Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli give grounds to say that this kind of incidents occur at the expense of political freedoms.  

“Challenges faced by media in Azerbaijan are not something new,” said Herkel. “As a Rapporteur on Azerbaijan, I need to say that the country was freer five years ago. This incident is something typical that can happen to Azerbaijani journalist.”
“Azadlig” Newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid was also detained on the same scenario – he was accused in hooliganism.
According to Radio Liberty, PACE Rapporteur on Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan Christoph Strasser issued a statement in connection with the arrest of the young activists stating that they were active members of the civil society and always expressed their critical opinions on political situation in Azerbaijan and they should be released immediately.

Strasser mentioned general situation on freedom of speech in Azerbaijan also. “Arresting two well-known young adults and critics like Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, the government harmed itself. These arrests will draw the international community's attention not only to Ilham Aliyev’s political system, but also to the cases of journalists and NGO activists convicted on the basis of dubious allegations of vandalism and slander."
 
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 “Lebonese” (Livan) restaurant along with several other young adults, when two people that looked like sportsmen came up to them, and attacked them causing physical injuries. Although they appealed to police as victims, police detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons for 48 hours and freed the attackers. On 10 July, Sabail District Court Judge Rauf Ahmadov issued a decision under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code to sentence Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention. Both Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade are being held in the Investigative Prison of Baku.