Elnur Majidli: Azerbaijan’s Facebook Dissident

by Sampsonia Way    /  May 4, 2011  / No comments


Elnur Majidli, a Strasbourg-based blogger and internet activist, has been threatened with a 12 year jail sentence for ‘inciting hatred’. Index on Censorship’s Mike Harris interviewed Elnur at the Council of Europe as part of Index and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan’s lobbying efforts.

Sitting in a coffee shop at the Council of Europe, Elnur Majidli proudly shows off on his netbook the Facebook groups that started the rare public protests in Azerbaijan on March 11 — “the Great People’s Day” — and are now being used to organise further protests. Tens of thousands of Azerbaijani citizens are members of the groups that Elnur administers, which has led the Ministry of Security to set-up a special Facebook team to monitor web activists.

Elnur may well be the team’s first target. On 1 April, plain clothes police officers turned up at his family home. He sighs: “They behaved as if it was an anti-terrorist operation.” On the same day, his father and two cousins were interrogated. All were taken to a police station and his father subjected to questions for 8 hours. Detentions were made not just in Baku, but in two other regions.

Elnur’s family are being punished for the sins of their son, In a way that recalls the country’s Soviet past.

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Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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