Days after the sentencing of two video blogging youth activists in Azerbaijan, other bloggers are starting to speak out about the imprisonment of Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli. The two online activists will spend 2 and 2.5 years in jail after a trial which most consider to be politically motivated and an attempt to silence dissent in the country.
They join others such as the Presidency of the European Union, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Reporters Without Borders as well as many others in condemning the verdict.
Amnesty International has also declared the two men to be prisoners of conscience. Interesting Times, an “online initiative monitoring attempts throughout the world to censor and restrict free access to the Internet,” puts the trial in context.
The latest show of repression by state forces in Azerbaijan leaves no doubt that both journalists and bloggers exercise their right to express themselves freely at their own risk.
Thanks to international pressure such as the WPFC letter and several others, the Azeri government has been compelled to release journalists from prison.
But this latest act of repression against two bloggers leaves no doubt that, if left alone, public officials in Azerbaijan will continue their abusive ways.
Notes from Abroad is also not surprised by the verdict.
On Tuesday, two young bloggers were sentenced to prison — one for two-and-a-half years, the other for two years — on the ridiculous charge of hooliganism. The whole thing is a sham — driven by political motives, but it is not surprising.
Since Azerbaijan is an oil-rich fiefdom, the West has treaded carefully in responding to this very undemocratic behavior by the Azeri government.
The Azeri government must be strongly condemned by the democracies of the world that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
The Blogar, however, is nearly speechless.
So the verdict is in.
Emin and Adnan are officially hooligans.
At a loss here on what to say.
Supposedly social media had a role in putting them behind bars, a role in getting the word out on the street about the injustice but was unable to change the minds of the corrupt Azerbaijan legal system.
Dont mess with Ilham.
[…] My thoughts are with their families and them.
However, with an appeal due to be lodged and possible action in the European Court of Human Rights, L4L, a new English-language Azeri blog, says that this is just the beginning.
What to do next? First of all we should not stop. We should continue working towards liberty of our friends and towards freedom of all Azerbaijan. […] Adnan and Emin showed no fear and we should not be anything less than courageous and inspiring.
This is hardly end. It all begins now.
Parvana Persiani and Global Voices Online's David Sasaki, World Blogging Forum, Bucharest, Romania © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2009
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the World Blogging Forum in Bucharest, Romania, Global Voices Online held a first aborted interview with Parvana Persiani, an Executive Board Member of the OL! Azerbaijani youth movement which her boyfriend, the imprisoned Adnan Hajizade, co-founded.
More updates will be posted as of when. Meanwhile, full coverage of the detention, trial and imprisonment of Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli is available in the Azerbaijan section of Global Voices Online and on the OL! Blog (in English and Azeri). The hashtag #EminAdnan is also used on Twitter.