The Second Blogger is Released
As expected, the second blogger, Emin Milli, was released on Friday. It was a big deal for a lot of people, and a big deal for freedom around the journalism world. The sense of relief that came over many people here was palpable.
Milli’s New York-based wife, Leyla Karimli, told RFE/RL that her husband called her immediately after his release. Asked where he was calling from, she reported that he said, “I’m calling from freedom.”
With both of the jailed bloggers out of jail, things certainly look better on the Journalism in Azerbaijan front. However, I think it’s important that we not forget what’s actually going on here. The way the Azerbaijani government has been able to orchestrate this entire situation, from the beginning with the fight in a Baku restaurant all the way to the release of the bloggers more than year later, shows how much power they exercise over the media landscape in the country. Organizations like the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and Human Rights Watch still lament the lack of transparency and freedom of expression in the country.
So while we should all celebrate Adnan and Emin’s release, truly a good day for them, their families, and the country, we need to continue to have high expectations for Azerbaijan. People who live here know that Azerbaijan has untapped potential to be better. Releasing the bloggers is a great start.