Two youth activists and bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada are in pre-trial detention on a charge of hooliganism, which activists and human rights defenders think are completely false. Sabayil Court judge Rauf Ahmedov denied the two an open hearing and condemned them to detention during the time of the investigation.
The youth were charged with hooliganism after what police claims “assault and inflicting injuries” to Babak Huseynov and Vusal Mammadov, who “tried to restore order in a restaurant”, where Milli, Hajizada and five other youth activists were dining on July 8. All seven activists said they had been talking about politics when one of the two athletic looking men sitting at the next table approached them and hit Emin Milli. Both Milli and Hajizada were injured, but have been denied proper medical examination in the police station, lawyers said. Police claimed Mammadov was hospitalized on July 9, as a result of the injuries, but a correspondent of RFE/RL Azerbaijani service did not find any record of this in the clinic hospital’s log.
Milli and Hajizada were denied a lawyer of their choice during the first interrogation despite the fact that their lawyer was waiting outside to be allowed to see the youth.
Gunter Nooke, German ombudsman visiting Baku was denied an opportunity to see Hajizada, who, according to the lawyer still showed injuries on his face. Nooke, who met the chairman of the Sabayil court before the sitting said the arrest of youth activists may negatively impact German-Azerbaijan relations.
Milli and Hajizada are active bloggers and both are believed to reach over ten thousand internet users in Azerbaijan.
Milli is also well known with critical speeches for different international and local audiences. He protested the Azerbaijani government for restricting basic freedoms, such as freedom of expression, as well as for lifting presidential term limit.
His most recent detention was on May 10th when he and other youth activists protested a celebration of Heydar Aliyev’s birthday with a Flower Festival just few days after the mass killing in the university.
Emin Milli is a founder of AN network, and Adnan Hajizada is a founder of OL! Youth movement. Both organizations are very outspoken about problems of youth in Azerbaijan. Both OL! and AN are committed to societal change through non-violent actions. Milli and Adnan are creators of ANTV and OLmedia - online media tools. They also actively distribute information through Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.
The arrest of the two youth was condemned by western diplomats. “OSCE representative for freedom of speech Miklos Harrazsty is watching the arrest of internet media activists” Alexis Shakhtakhtinski, deputy head of the OSCE office in Baku said to RFE/RL Azerbaijani service. He said he hopes the investigation will be conducted in fair and transparent manner.
Lawyers said they will submit appeal claim on July13. If the Appeal Court’s decision will not be fair, they will apply to the European Court of Human Rights.