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Video petition for detained Azeri youth activists, bloggers (updated)

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In a little under 9 hours at time of writing, an appeal to consider the case of Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli, two youth activists and video bloggers in Baku, Azerbaijan, will be heard. Sentenced to two month's pre-trial detention under what many consider to be fabricated and politically motivated charges, the appeal should have been heard on Friday, but Hajizade was not brought to court for still unknown reasons.

The case has been met with outrage in many international circles and there is even an Early Day Motion submitted for consideration in the House of Commons. Despite concerns that the two young men have been targetted by the state, with the authorities in Baku appearing unconcerned by their country's image abroad, Hajizade and Milli's supporters continue to campaign for their release. The latest addition in their arsenal of new media tools is a video petition blog.

On 8th of July while Azerbaijani youth movement leaders Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli were talking to their friends in a restaurant two unknown sportsmen attacked and started beating them. As a result Adnan's nose was broken and Emin's foot was hurt.

Despite the fact that they themselves went to the police so as to complain as victims, the police detained them as suspects. The sportsmen who attacked them were released. No medical assistance was provided to Emin and Adnan during 48 hours. They were not allowed to meet with their lawyers.

After these 48 hours, the court has ruled for 2 months' detention for Emin and Adnan without any proofs and grounding. Further investigation will proceed during these 2 months pre-trial detention. The investigation is fake. The court has turned into a theatre.

We turn to the entire world today:

Do not let Azerbaijani youth alone. Please support us. Do not allow Azerbaijani youth fighting for democracy to be silenced. link

Accounts differ, but if found guilty at any eventual trial, the two activists could face between 2.5 and 4 years in prison although it's also possible that their pre-trial detention might also be extended indefinitely in an attempt to frustrate the activities of Hajizade's OL! Azerbaijani youth movement and Milli's AN network. Diplomatic missions and human rights activists in Azerbaijan are furious, and not least because none have been allowed access to the court hearings held behind closed doors.

Amnesty International has already issued a public statement.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the latest development in the continued clampdown against civil society and media activists in Azerbaijan. Emin Milli (real name Emin Abdullayev) and Adnan Hacizade were arrested on 8 July on a charge of 'hooliganism', and remanded in custody for two months on 10 July. Amnesty International believes that both may have been targeted for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Emin Milli and Adnan Hacizade are well-known youth activists who have used online networking tools, including Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, to disseminate information about the socio-political situation in Azerbaijan. Emin Milli is also a co-founder of a youth group named Alumni Network while Adnan Hacizade is a coordinator of the youth movement known as OL!


Amnesty International considers that if Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade are being detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, their arrest and detention would violate Azerbaijan's obligations to respect their right to freedom of expression. In such a situation, Amnesty International would regard them as prisoners of conscience, who should be released immediately and unconditionally. link

Meanwhile, others around the world are now starting to post their videos in support of Hajizade and Milli. Two of the first were Global Voices Online video editor Juliana Rincón Parra and Global Voices Online author Portnoy. Given Hajizade and Milli's use of online video for activism, that perhaps was very appropiate indeed.

Other voices come from those who have known or have studied with Hajizade and Milli as well as those who have not.

The video petition site in support for Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli is here while a general blog -- back online after what might have been a DoS attack -- can be found here. There is also extensive coverage on The Frontline Club as well as Global Voices Online.


As mentioned below in the comments section, Frontline's Matthew Collin was at the appeal court for yesterday's hearing and compiled a report for Al Jazeera English.


Onnik Krikorian | July 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Reply

As expected, the appeal was rejected in a court once again closed to the public and international bodies interested in observing the process.

Matthew Collin replied to comment from Onnik Krikorian | July 21, 2009 7:09 AM | Reply

I was there outside the appeals court in Baku yesterday, and there was a sense of deep sadness among the activists' close friends that all the international coverage of this case, and the critical statements from European and US officials, hasn't moved the authorities to drop this case and end what seems to have turned into a global embarrassment for Azerbaijan's government.

More here...

Onnik Krikorian | July 22, 2009 1:22 PM | Reply

There's full coverage of the online reaction to the appeal court decision now available on Global Voices Online.

At time of writing, a counter added to the OL! Azerbaijani Youth Movement blog shows that online youth activists Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli have been in detention for 14 days now. The two video bloggers were taken into police custody on 8 July on what many consider to be trumped up charges of “hooliganism.”

Despite significant outcry from leading human rights groups, press freedom watchdogs, as well as the international community itself, the two men were sentenced to two months pre-trial detention on 10 July in a court hearing held behind closed doors.

Their appeal, originally planned for last week, was eventually heard on Monday, but few expected the bloggers to be released. In a comment made on my Frontline Club post, Al Jazeera English's Matthew Collin summed up the mood outside the courtroom.

[...] link

Onnik Krikorian | July 23, 2009 10:12 AM | Reply

Just interviewed regional analyst and Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines blogger Arzu Geybullayeva for Global Voices Online where we touched upon the case of Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.


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