Thursday, April 11

Say freedom no more? [Updated April 14, 2013]

See the second part of the post for updates

So it isn't just movies and exhibitions on human rights and freedom that are being banned these days back in Azerbaijan. In fact, its all about banning anything that contains the word "Freedom" itself looks like. On Wednesday, April 10th, the office space of the Free Thought University was sealed [RU] by the local police. No further explanation was provided by the local authorities and the University postponed its lectures indefinitely. 

Known at home as AFU, it is one (if not only) independent venues for young people to come and listen to lectures on a range of topics. As the website of the university explains it itself- AFU is a space offering its visitors alternative education.

Who knows, maybe the government would ban the word itself very soon. And then it would probably say something along the lines, Azerbaijan achieved all the necessary levels of freedom so no need to mention it, or say it no more. 

On April 11th, 2013, the Free Thought University placed an official explanation [AZ] regarding the "sealing" operation. According to the statement FTU was shut down based on vague allegations put forward by the prosecutor general office. The statement reminds that OL! is a youth movement not an NGO and there is no legislation within the legal framework of Azerbaijan stipulating some kind of mechanism for such institutions. The FTU never received an official grant. In fact, to continue its work, within its current format, OL! has been working to find a legal solution. It is for these reasons, closing down FTU's premises is completely baseless. The letter, asks for the prosecutor office to unseal the FTU premises. In one final remark, the statement reminds its readers that the FTU is OL! project solely and has no relation to any other institution. 

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