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IRFS concerned over decision to transfer bloggers to different prisons

(IRFS/IFEX) - 13 April 2010 - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and the Media Rights Institute (MRI) condemn the decision to transfer bloggers Emin Milli (Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade from the Baku Investigative Prison where they are currently being held.

The two young bloggers were arrested on hooliganism charges and imprisoned for a satirical video that was critical of the government. Milli was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and Hajizade was sentenced to 2 years.

Hajizade has been transferred to Prison #14 in the Gizilbash settlement. Conditions at the prison do not meet minimum standards. Milli will be transferred to Prison #5 in Salyan region, 120 kilometers from Baku.

IRFS and MRI recall that according to national legislation on punishments and Azerbaijan's commitments, each prisoner has the right to serve their terms in a safe environment. No prisoner should be subjected to rude behavior or degrading treatment.

IRFS and MRI believe that prisoners should be allowed to serve their prison terms close to their residences. Prisoners may be sent to prisons situated in other regions for their state of health, their safety and in other exceptional cases.

Transferring Hajizade, who was arrested over trumped-up charges, to a prison on the outskirts of the city, which doesn't meet adequate conditions or have good road access, and Milli to a prison in a region where arbitrariness rules, is a sign of anger, prejudice and hatred towards youth with critical opinions. IRFS and MRI note that the leadership of these prisons are known for their intolerance of the media, prisoners' relatives, representatives of civil society and international organizations. Critical journalists Sakit Zahidov and Faramaz Allahverdiyev were held in prison #14. While there, they had continuous problems regarding visits and faced torture, propaganda and pressure.

IRFS and MRI emphasize that the subjection of bloggers to severe treatment for their critical thoughts serves as a threat to critical thinkers, and prevents them from discussing incidents of relevance in society and government, and expressing their opinions.

IRFS and MRI call on the government to refrain from preventing citizens from participating in public and political life and to annul unfounded court decisions adopted against young bloggers and journalists.

IRFS and MRI call on the Azerbaijan government to release the two young bloggers and Eynulla Fatullayev, who have been recognized as prisoners of conscience by the international and local communities.

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