What European Liberals feared but didn’t hope for, unfortunately seems to be coming true - a revenge against democracy activists and journalists. As ELDR campaigned for freedom and democracy in Azerbaijan before the Eurovision Song Contest, European Liberal Democrats will not let go the Azeri authorities and will continue to hold the country to account over its malpractice of European standards of freedom and democracy.
The ELDR Party was informed that Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) employee Mehman Huseynov was unlawfully detained. Huseynov, 23 years old, was summoned to the Sabayil District Police station and was taken into police custody at approximately 21h00 on Tuesday evening 12 June for 48 hours after three hours of questioning. He is reported to be accused under Article 221.1 of Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code – Hooliganism. At this point there is not court decision on Huseynov’s detention; however a court decision will be necessary to detain him past 48 hours and to place him in pre-trial detention. The charges against him stem from a verbal disagreement that he had with police at an unsanctioned protest in front of the Baku Mayoral Office on May 21, 2012, one day before the first Eurovision song contest semi-final was to be held. Huseynov was at the event carrying out his professional duties, when police used force against both protesters and journalists, including Huseynov and other IRFS employees. Police broke the camera that Huseynov was using at the event. If convicted, Mehman faces up to one year of imprisonment.
Mehman Huseynov is one of Azerbaijan’s most well-known videographers and photographers. His video clips and photographs are always widely disseminated throughout social media and often picked up by the local and international press. Mehman has collaborated with numerous international media outlets, particularly within the framework of Eurovision, which was held two weeks ago in Azerbaijan, and was extremely active in the “Sing for Democracy” campaign. IRFS was one of the initiators of this campaign.
In the run up to the Eurovision song contest, ELDR campaigned for freedom and democracy in Azerbaijan –where you can sing but cannot speak. You can still support our petition on www.douzepointsforfreedom.eu! Sign today!