Monday, April 28

Public diplomacy and freedom of speech in Azerbaijan...pending arrest (updated)

09:05: As of early hours of this morning Leyla Yunus husband is in intensive care and Mrs. Yunus was giving statement (questioned) at the prosecutor general office. Yunus was meant to meet with France's president Francoius Hollande on his visit to Azerbaijan on May 17th. She believes this detention is to prevent her from this meeting. Sounds like Emin Milli's arrest when he was meant to translate for the German Ombudsman Gunter Nooke in 2009.

01:37: here is another update in English. No news yet though Yunus herself believes its in close relation to her work in peace diplomacy.

22:55: According to the lawyer Khalid Baghirov (who is also overlooking the case of Mirkadirov) who is currently at the airport he hasn't seen the couple. The lawyer says the law enforcement agents are "conducting" search of their luggage and will then search their apartment.

Which could mean a whole new set of things: like finding books of certain nature for instance like they found in the apartment search of young NIDA activists. There is just no limits to what Azerbaijani government can do. It is as simple as that.

If you haven't heard about the case of Rauf Mirkadirov, Azerbaijan journalist based in Turkey, deported and then arrested and charged with espionage then here is an article for you to get the picture. 

Mirkadirov, isn't just a well known journalist writing for many years for the Russian daily Zerkalo. He is also a known name in the circles of people to people diplomacy advocates. 

He is accused of transferring some kind of "secret" information and photographs- in a nutshell, state secrets of some sort- and is currently in a three month pre- trial detenion facing a possible sentence of 10 years. 

Just now [AZ] I am reading that another well known human rights advocate Leyla Yunus is detained together with her husband Arif Yunus as the couple was leaving the country for Doha. While according to the news several foreign diplomats were able to get the couple through the customs, they were stopped from boarding the plane. 

The couple is also outspoken on the public diplomacy and has taken part in many meetings. The nature of these recent arrests is troublesome as this could mean a number of things starting from a new type of measure of Azerbaijan government to silence its critics but also show its disinterest in the dialogue with its neighbor Armenia. Surely this could mean other things but the bottom line is clear- Azerbaijani authorities relentlessly punishing free voices. Already there are several journalists, advocates, political figures and bloggers in jail not to mention 8 young men who have voiced their concerns about the political and social situation in the country and are now facing trumped up charges. 

So do all those apologists of Azerbaijani government still consider it a democracy? They probably do, no doubt but many others who see the real situation should raise their voices and concerns! This is not an acceptable!

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