On July 8, 2009, prominent Azerbaijani bloggers and youth activists Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada were arrested after being attacked in Baku. Eyewitnesses report that the two were victims of assailants claiming to be offended by the "political content" of the activists' discussion. Police released the attackers, while charging Milli and Hajizada with "hooliganism" and confining them to two months of pretrial detention.
The incident is unique in that the targets are not overtly political figures, nor are they "journalists" in the traditional sense. It indicates a further narrowing of public space for free expression, and comes on the heels of government attempts to pass extremely restrictive amendments to legislation on NGOs and religion.
At this Open Society Foundations forum, speakers explore which opportunities remain to promote independent speech and free assembly in Azerbaijan.