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Azerbaijani Facebook Campaigner Jailed For Two Years

Azerbaijani Opposition Activist Jailed For Two Years i
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May 18, 2011
Baxtiyar Haciyev, a young opposition activist in Azerbaijan who used the social-networking site Facebook to call for antigovernment protests, has been jailed for two years.
Baxtiyar Haciyev, a young opposition activist in Azerbaijan who used the social-networking site Facebook to call for antigovernment protests, has been jailed for two years.
BAKU -- A young opposition activist in Azerbaijan who used the social-networking site Facebook to call for antigovernment protests has been jailed for two years, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The court in Ganca sentenced Baxtiyar Haciyev (aka Bakhtiyar Hajiyev) for evading military service.

Haciyev, 29, told the judge in court that "you have a chance to show that this verdict [will not be] a political order. [However] I don't believe you will pass a fair decision."

Haciyev, a Harvard graduate and former parliament candidate, denied the charges and attributed his arrest to his Facebook activity trying to organize antigovernment protests.

Haciyev's lawyer said he was planning to appeal the verdict.

Haciyev's mother told RFE/RL the trial was in the spirit of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's 1937 show trials. "From day one I was saying that it is still [1937] in Azerbaijan.... Now I can see that it is even worse than '37."

Haciyev and his supporters launched the March 11 "Great People's Day" online event in which they asked people to click their approval of the protest, as well as to gather in different towns and cities across Azerbaijan.

Baxtiyar Haciyev

He was arrested on March 4 and ordered held in pretrial detention for a month for violating an order not to leave Ganca while previous charges of evading military service were being investigated.

On May 12, the European Parliament condemned the crackdown on opposition protests in Azerbaijan and expressed "deep concern" at the increased number of attacks on civil society, social-network activists, and journalists in the country.

Isa Qambar, the chairman of the opposition Musavat Party, condemned Haciyev's conviction.

Qambar told RFE/RL the verdict "shows how afraid the authorities are of society becoming more active. This decision will only embarrass the Azerbaijani government in the eyes of its own people and in the international arena. The government should stop playing games and start real, serious reforms. And it should start by freeing journalists, youth activists, and opposition members from jails."

The U.S. Embassy in Baku said in a statement that the timing of Haciyev's arrest following his efforts to organize antigovernment protests "raised questions about [the] authorities' use of the judicial system to punish dissent."

It said the United States "firmly supports the strengthening of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Azerbaijan and calls upon judicial authorities to ensure Haciyev's appeals are reviewed in accordance with Azerbaijani law and international commitments."

Haciyev said during the trial -- which was monitored by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers -- that the reason he returned to Azerbaijan from the United States last year was because he thought "we had a chance to make some reforms."

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek is scheduled to begin a visit to Azerbaijan on May 20.

Read more in Azeri here
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Comments
     
by: w from: UK
May 20, 2011 11:05
Am I missing something here? Like every other country in the region it is required that young men serve time in the forces. Whatever else he may or may not be, he did not do this and so needs to be convicted for this. If he is not what is to stop everybody else from doing the same?

by: Pogo from: England
May 20, 2011 16:40
He avoided call up! He did the crime! Now he does the time!!

by: Sabir from: Baku
May 20, 2011 19:26
How poor of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service. I want to see the Azerbaijan government officials opinion.

by: Roshua from: Norway
May 22, 2011 09:27
Guys you are deff wrong .!!! may be you are one of them who sold him or herself to the corruption.!

by: Hikmat from: Baku
May 23, 2011 18:35
So where's minsters' sons??? Where did they do their military servises??? Where were officials by know since Hajiyev is 29 who should do his military service when he was 18?? You guys live abroad and don't know what is occuring here! Unfortuntly my english is not that good to express:-(( All what they try to do is choking youth's voice here

by: W from: UK
May 25, 2011 18:33
In my experience the press often picks up on certain angles and then never lets them drop! Most people / countries are not all good or all bad but the press often sees only black and white. As an outsider I see that all the good things that Azerbaijan does and is trying to do does not get anything like the exposure that the press gives things that it can report a negative side of and often this can be a distortion of the facts.

by: Pogo from: England
May 25, 2011 19:30
I might live in England but I know that in any country if you commit the crime you must expect to do the time!
In Response

by: Anna from: Warsaw
June 02, 2011 15:58
Pogo, you'd better read up on the case before you post a comment. Now it only proves that you're a total ignorant.