Friday, November 13, 2009
Freedom of expression under pressure in Azerbaijan
Statement by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland
I am concerned about the very harsh sentences imposed by the court in Azerbaijan on Adnan Hadjizadeh and Emin Mili. Shortly before the July incident which resulted in their imprisonment for “hooliganism”, the two young people produced a satirical YouTube video, in which they implicitly criticised the government. This sequence of events will have an inevitable chilling effect on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.
The authorities should very critically review their attitude towards media and civil society and public criticism in general, and bring it in line with their obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Freedom of expression is a vital precondition of democracy. Without it there is no freedom, no creativity, no good ideas, no good solutions and no social progress. What is at stake is not only the freedom of Adnan and Emin, but the freedom and well-being of all people in Azerbaijan.
Council of Europe Press Release: Strasbourg, 12.11.2009