Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shame on the government of Azerbaijan!

The sentence of Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade should not be a surprise. Two years for Adnan; two and a half for Emin. Everyone knows that the the government of Azerbaijan is not afraid to jail journalists. In the last 10 years, the government has jailed numerous courageous journalists and even has been implicated in their deaths. What that government does fear is its own people. The government of Azerbaijan fears its own people because it abuses them. This is the reason for the harsh sentence for two young men who were guilty of promoting democracy in a country where this concept endangers those in power.

I am not optimistic that there will be some reprieve for Emin and Adnan, although such events occur. This allows the president to act magnanimously after the kangaroo courts have done their work, intimidating journalists.

And I am not optimistic that pressure or reaction to the sentence from Europe or the United States will be able to sway the government of Azerbaijan toward leniency in general. With this decision, the government put its repressive stance on the record. For the rulers of Azerbaijan, control of Azerbaijani citizens is much more important than any sense of justice. To any casual observer, the case against these two young men is clearly evident as a farce. It was a show trial, but the government of Azerbaijan is not ashamed to conduct such travesties. Such procedures have nothing to do with justice, truth or fairness. They are about naked power and intimidation of the populace.

I write these lines before dawn in the United States. At this hour, the weather here is dark and rainy. Though the day is later in Baku, it is much, much darker there.