From Harvard to Jail: Another Azerbaijani Facebook Activist Sentenced
If any of those Facebook check-out-who-stalks-you applications actually worked, then Azerbaijani police might well come out at the top of the list for users from Azerbaijan, many Azerbaijanis believe. They link police screening of Facebook for anti-government content to the arrest of individuals who have called for protests against the country’s government.
On May 18, one of those detainees, Harvard-educated Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who stood as an independent candidate for parliament last year, was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly avoiding mandatory military service. The 29-year-old Hajiyev, who denies the charges, was arrested soon after he participated in setting up a Facebook page to promote the March 11 Great People's Day protest.
Prior to Hajiyev’s conviction, another activist, Jabbar Savalan was
arrested and convicted on drug possession charges soon after he used
Facebook to call for a Middle East-style Day of Rage against the
Hajiyev’s relatives and friends, some of whom have contacted EurasiaNet.org, maintain that the arrest was a retribution for his activism. Hajiyev, they claim, was tortured in police custody.
Rights group Amnesty International also has weighed in on Hajiyev’s case and called on the Azerbaijani authorities to end what it see as a crackdown on government opponents.
A website set up to support Hajiyev has posted the text of a letter from the staff of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government -- Hajiev’s alma matter -- to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev about the arrest. “We ask that the responsible authorities in Azerbaijan protect him from torture as well as physical and emotional ill-treatment,” reads the letter reportedly sent by Kennedy School Executive Dean John Haigh and 14 colleagues. Tamada Tales could not verify the letter's authenticity.