THREE WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT ILHAM ALIYEV

September 7th, 2009
On 4 September international organizations – Human Rights Watch, Article 19 AND International PEN sent a joint appeal to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in connection with imprisoned young bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade. 

In the appeal the three organizations expressed concern regarding the arrest of young activists.  

“ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression, Human Rights Watch and International PEN wish to express our profound concern regarding the arrest and pre-trial detention of Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, two Azerbaijani youth activists,” it is said in the appeal.

The authors of the letter voiced concern over attacks against media in Azerbaijan and urged Azerbaijani authorities to take all possible measures to ensure that Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade receive a fair trial in accordance with Azerbaijan’s international obligations.

“We note with concern that freedom of expression has recently been under direct threat in Azerbaijan, as a variety of methods have been employed to silence persons and media outlets that voice dissenting opinions. Journalists and media representatives have been harassed, threatened, or attacked for their professional activities, and defamation and other spurious criminal charges have been used to prosecute opposition and independent journalists in the past. Journalists Ganimat Zahid, Eynulla Fatullayev, and Mushvig Huseynov remain imprisoned on spurious criminal charges; Novruzali Mammadov, editor of a minority newspaper, passed away in prison on 17 August, after authorities failed to provide him with the appropriate standards of care in accordance with Azerbaijan’s international obligations, and whilst he was serving a prison sentence for what appeared to be fabricated charges of treason. The March 2005 murder of editor Elmar Huseynov inexplicably remains unsolved.”
For the full text of the appeal see:
http://www.article19.org/pdfs/letters/azerbaijan-letter-regarding-emin-milli-and-adnan-hajizade.pdf
On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Emin Milli and 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 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. On July 20 the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the lower court. Investigation of the criminal case was concluded and a criminal case under articles 221.2.1 (hooliganism) and 127 (inflicting intentional minor bodily harm) was instituted against E.Millli and A.Hajizade and the case is being considered in the Sabail District Court.