BAKU -- The mother of jailed Azerbaijani youth activist Baxtiyar Haciyev has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to help secure his release, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
Haciyev (aka Bakhtiyar Hajiyev), a former parliament candidate who used Facebook to call for antigovernment protests earlier this year, was jailed in May for two years for evading military service.
In her letter, which she also sent to RFE/RL, Haciyev's mother, Solida Movlayeva, tells Clinton her son was jailed for "calling for freedom and democracy in Azerbaijan."
"I am imploring to you as a mother to another mother," Movlayeva writes. "Please imagine yourself as an ordinary citizen whose son or daughter was charged and imprisoned for criticizing an authoritarian government's policies and voicing concern about the sufferings of the people during his election campaign for the parliament and in his Facebook page."
Movlayeva writes that the courts in her country follow the orders of the government and so discarded evidence that proves her son's innocence.
"We have no other recourse but to seek outside help," she continues. "But all the petitions from abroad as well as support from NGOs have brought no outcome. We implore you not to fail us, Madam Secretary. You are our last hope. As one mother to another, please help me."
Movlayeva says her son has a preexisting eye condition which has worsened in the last few weeks due to harsh prison conditions but that he is continuously denied competent medical assistance.
In an interview with RFE/RL last week, Madat Quliyev, head of the Penitentiary Service, advised Haciyev's family to call him in person to arrange treatment in prison or any hospital in the country.
Haciyev, a 29-year-old Harvard graduate, ran unsuccessfully in the November 2010 parliamentary elections. The ruling party won an overwhelming majority of seats in the elections, which international observers and monitoring groups said were marred by numerous procedural irregularities.