Azerbaijan: Facebook Users Have "Mental Problems"
A March 11 rally against Azerbaijan's government, heavily promoted on Facebook, may or may not prove a real "day of rage," but Azerbaijani police are not taking any chances. Nor is Azerbaijan's chief psychiatrist, who would most likely advise the country's Facebook activists to visit their doctors for treatment of "mental problems."
Chief psychiatrist Garay Geraybeyli on March 7 appeared to use a Soviet-era tactic for quashing dissent by implying that individuals who frequent Facebook and other social networks are mentally unbalanced.
In an interview with the pro-government news agency Trend, Geraybeyli asserted that "People who prefer virtual relations have problems with real-life conversation. They do not have a sufficient vocabulary. They have problems with their speech . . . The result is mental problems."
That evaluation, however, has not stopped police with their cyber-crackdown.
Sakhavan Soltani, a member of the youth wing of the opposition Musavat Party, was hauled in for questioning on March 8. The day before, another anti-government activist, Rashadat Akhundov, was taken into custody. Earlier on, two other activists, involved in organizing the same Facebook "day of rage, " were handed prison sentences.
The crackdown has drawn criticism from the US embassy in Azerbaijan and international rights groups.