BRUSSELS (Eurasianet)–A key European human rights body has joined the international push to free two Azerbaijani youth activists who were arrested in early July in what is widely seen as a reprisal for spreading non-conformist ideas.
In remarks published on July 28, Christoph Strasser, the German rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), stated that he will focus on the arrest of Azerbaijani youth activists/bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade in an upcoming report to the Assembly. Strasser intends to “draw [the] international community’s attention to the cases of journalists and NGO activists convicted on the basis of dubious allegations of vandalism and slander” in Azerbaijan. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Milli and Hajizade are being held for two months pending trial on charges of hooliganism. They were detained following a scuffle with two unidentified men in a Baku cafe that has been widely portrayed as a provocation against the two activists, both government critics.
European parliamentarians have also sent a letter of concern to Azerbaijani diplomatic missions in Europe, the Kavkazsky Uzel news portal reports. Angry at the mounting international pressure, Azerbaijan authorities have told embassies in Baku to mind their own business.