On 8 July two members of the Azerbaijan opposition, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, were arrested and charged with “hooliganism”. The two men had been sitting peacefully in a café when they were first beaten up by two assailants and then themselves arrested by the police. They were subsequently sentenced, in a non-public trial, to two months in custody; a complaint against this sentence was rejected. The two men remain in custody.
Just before he was arrested Emin Milli had given an interview to ZDF (Germany’s second public broadcaster) in which he had gone into great detail regarding the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.
Günter Nooke, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, visited Azerbaijan on 9 and 10 July; Mr Milli was to act as his interpreter. The Commissioner visited the detainees during his stay in Baku and repeatedly called for their release during his talks with government officials.
Tomorrow the German national football team will play a 2010 World Cup qualifying match in Baku. On this occasion, Mr Nooke issued the following statement:
“Sport, and especially football, links people and nations. The fact that Germany is playing Azerbaijan in the World Cup should, however, also be an opportunity to look more closely at the host country. The overall human rights situation in Azerbaijan is unsatisfactory.
During my visit to that country I saw for myself how critical young opposition figures such as Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade are being detained following orchestrated “incidents” and dubious trials. This case must not simply be swept under the carpet! I call on the Baku government once again to release Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade.”