We, the undersigned, condemn violent physical attack against Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli and express our grave concern at their subsequent detention and trial by the authorities.
Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli are prominent representatives of socially active Azerbaijani youth calling for the establishment of civil society based on principles of modernity, respect for individual rights and freedoms, non-violence and tolerance. Their non-partisan activities, as leaders of progressive youth networks, contributes significantly to building human capital, promoting knowledge and education, and strengthening social texture in Azerbaijan.
Their detention and trial is a gross violation of their basic human rights, as well as the legal protections guaranteed to the citizens by the constitution and laws of Azerbaijan Republic. It undermines democracy building in Azerbaijan, amplifies international concerns about individual rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan, and weakens the country's position in international arena.
Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada were subjected to a violent and unprovoked by two individuals dressed in civilian clothes while dining with their friends during the afternoon of July 8, 2009 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Immediately after being attacked and severely beaten, Emin and Adnan went to a police station to file a report.
After holding Adnan and Emin for several hours, police decided to detain them for 48 hours for further trial. Although they were the vicitms who came to the police station to file a report, charges were pressed against Adnan and Emin based on clause 221 (Hooliganism) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, while the people who assaulted Emin and Adnan were set free.
We are deeply concerned about the following:
1. despite being the victims who were attacked and beaten, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada were treated as suspects and detained for 48 hours, while those who attacked them were set free;
2. despite persistent demands, Emin and Adnan were not allowed to meet with a lawyer until after being detained for more than 10 hours;
We demand the immediate release of Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli.
We call on the government of Azerbaijan to investigate the violation of their legal rights.
We also call on the authorities to ensure that their attackers are held responsible for their actions and face fair and open trial.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Azerbaijan rates 150 out of 173 countries on Reporters Without Borders' 2008 Press Freedom Index. Last Friday's jailing of Azeri bloggers and youth activists Hajizade and Milli therefore gives cause for great concern and worry about developments for freedom of speech and media in Azerbaijan, and in the continuation, the country's relations with the EU and the West.
I thus encourage you to sign the petition for Hajizade's and Milli's swift release, in accordance with the text below. For updates on the case, please visit the Free Adnan Hajizade & Emin Milli website.