Statements

Azerbaijani youth activists targeted after using Facebook to call for protests :

Two members of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’s (APFP) youth organization were targeted by police this week after calling for protests against the Azerbaijani government on Facebook. Amnesty International is concerned that the authorities are seeking to further restrict the environment for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan by cracking down on online activism in addition to conventional media.

Jabbar Savalan, a 20-year-old student, was arrested in Sumgayit on 5 February after he posted on Facebook calling for a “Day of Rage” in Freedom Square in Baku, echoing the calls for protest in the Middle East. A month prior to his arrest he had reposted an article, originally published in a Turkish newspaper and critical of Azerbaijan’s President, on his Facebook page. Jabbar Savalan had also been involved in a protest against the government on 20 January.

He made the Facebook post on February 4 and was intercepted by police the following night as he returned home from an APFP meeting. Police had searched his home while he attended the meeting, claiming to be acting on an anonymous tip-off.

According to his lawyer, Asabali Mustafayev, police officers handcuffed Jabbar Savalan and forced him into a police car without giving a reason for his arrest or searching him. He was later searched at the police station, where police claim to have found 0.74 grams of marijuana in his coat pocket. He was charged with “possessing narcotics with intent to supply.“ Despite their claim to be acting on an anonymous tip-off, police did not provide any explanation to Jabbar Savalan or his lawyer as to how it was they believed he had obtained the marijuana, or to whom he intended to supply it. Jabbar Savalan’s family and friends say that he has no history of drugs use. His lawyer has called for an independent drugs test to be carried out.

Amnesty International is concerned that the drugs charges are being used as a pretext to punish Jabbar Savalan for his political activism and to discourage other youth activists from exercising their right to freedom of expression. If convicted, Jabbar Savalan could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

On the evening of 5 February he was interrogated without a lawyer, in violation of Article 19 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Procedure Code, and pressured into signing a confession which he has since retracted. Jabbar Savalan’s defence lawyer was only allowed to see him on 7 February. The police did not notify Jabbar Savalan’s family of his arrest or tell them where he was being held. They have not been allowed to visit him in detention. According to the lawyer police slapped and intimidated Jabbar Savalan, in order to compel him to confess. Police reportedly told him that his punishment had already been decided “at the highest level”.

On 7 February Sumgayit District Court ordered Jabbar Savalan to spend two months in pre-trial detention. Azerbaijan is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Court has held that continued post-charge but pre-trial detention can only be justified “if there are specific indications of a genuine requirement of public interest which, notwithstanding the presumption of innocence, outweighs the rule of respect for individual liberty.”

Amnesty International calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to justify Jabbar Salavan’s pre-trial detention in these terms or release him immediately, pending a trial in line with international fair trial standards.

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The Statement of Dalga Youth Movement about arresting of youth actvist Jabbar Savalanli

We are, Dalga Youth Movement have announcing a statement criticizing arresting of Jabbar Savalanli, an activist of Azerbaijanian National Front Party’s Youth Commitee. In the statement Movement has called government to decide justly.
We criticize judgment, 2 month imprisonment of Jabbar Savalanli, an activist of Azerbaijanian Front Party’s youth organization which has slandered in keeping of drugs and arrested in 5th February 2011.
We consider that, this action prevents the formation of political views of young people in Azerbaijan. We call all social active youth to be solitary about this event. As a Dalga Youth Movement we always stand guard human rights.
We always criticized actions like this. Such cases badly affects on Azerbijanian Republic’s youth policy, international reputation , belief of youth to government and relation between government and youth.
We hope, the court will judge justly about this activist which absurdly slandered. Otherwise we are going to do our civil duty by using our right which has given to us by constitution to support him.
As a Dalga Youth Movement we decided to support and be active in Rights Defense Committee of Jabbar Savalanli.

Orkhan Nabiyev

The Chairman of
Dalga Youth Movement

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AZAD Condemns Prosecution of Youth Activists In Azerbaijan

LONDON. February 11, 2011: Amnesty International has urged the Azerbaijani authorities to stop the harassment of activists, after two members of an opposition youth organization were apparently targeted this week for using Facebook to call for anti-government protests.

Jabbar Savalan, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’s (APFP) youth group, has been jailed for two months pending trial on drugs charges after he posted on Facebook calling for a “Day of Rage” inspired by protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

Elcin Hasanov, also a member of the APFP youth group, was summoned by the police on 9 February, after he posted on Facebook calling for youth action against Jabbar Savalan’s detention. The police questioned him and told him to retract his comments and apologize. He has not done so.

“The authorities have already effectively muzzled much of the mainstream media. By clamping down on online activism they are silencing one of the few remaining platforms for the open discussion of critical views in Azerbaijan,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“These drugs charges could be being used as a pretext to punish Jabbar Savalan for his political activism. There is a striking similarity between his case and others in which the Azerbaijani authorities have brought drug-related charges against prominent critics.”

Jabbar Savalan, a 20-year-old student, was arrested by police in the city of Sumgayit as he returned home from an APFP meeting on the evening of 5 February, the day after he had posted on Facebook calling for protests to take place in Freedom Square in the capital Baku.
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Police searched his home while he was at the meeting, claiming to be acting on an anonymous tip-off.

A month before his arrest Jabbar Savalan had reposted an article critical of Azerbaijan’s President on Facebook originally published in a Turkish newspaper. He had also taken part in an anti-government protest on 20 January.

Jabbar Savalan’s lawyer said that police officers handcuffed him and forced him into a police car without searching him or giving a reason for his arrest.

He was later searched at the police station, where police say they found 0.74 grams of marijuana in his coat pocket. He was charged with “possessing narcotics with intent to supply.”

On 7 February, Sumgayit District Court ordered Jabbar Savalan to spend two months in pre-trial detention. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Jabbar Savalan’s family and friends say that he has no history of drug use. His lawyer has called for an independent drugs test to be carried out.

The evening of his arrest, Jabbar Savalan was interrogated without a lawyer and pressured into signing a confession which he later retracted.

Jabbar Savalan’s lawyer was only allowed to see him two days after his arrest. His family has not been allowed to visit him in detention.

“Amnesty International calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to justify Jabbar Salavan’s pre-trial detention or release him immediately, pending a trial in line with international fair trial standards,” said John Dalhuisen.

Journalists and civil society activists in Azerbaijan are frequently subjected to threats, harassment and violence and prevented from carrying out their work, sometimes through the excessive use of force by police officers (Amnesty International).

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