Thursday, November 19, 2009

Walking the Beat in Dili, Timor-Leste

Australian Peacekeepers are a common sight around Dili. Admittedly, it is still a bit unsettling to see automatic weapons carried on the street -- and in restaurants.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Azerbaijan's "spin" on the Conviction of Two Bloggers

Nearly a week after two bloggers were convicted on trumped-up charges of hooliganism, the Azeri authorities are responding. Ali Hasanov, who is the deputy of the Parliament and also part of the presidential apparatus, says "the judicial system in Azerbaijan is independent and executive authorities cannot affect its decisions." He adds that "Azerbaijan has more freedom of speech, than such European countries as Germany and France."

Hasanov is quoted in various news reports.

On November 11th, the two bloggers, Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli were sentenced to two-and-a-half years and two years, respectively, in prison on the charge of hooliganism.

They were arrested last July after being beaten up as they dined at a restaurant with friends. Adnan and Emin have criticized the government in their blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kafka in Baku

Imagine coming home from work and finding a metal fence around your apartment building. When you attempt to go through the fence, security guards forcefully refuse to allow you inside.

According to press reports in Azerbaijan, it happened to Gurban Aliyev and the other residents of 95/97 Neftyanik Avenue – which is near the historic Maiden Tower – at the edge of Baku’s old walled city.

Aliyev says “all our stuff is in the apartments.” She said several days earlier, water, gas and power to the apartment building was suspended. She says the city plans to demolish the building. Aliyev says some residents have been driven to despair and are threatening to throw themselves off the top of the multi-story Maiden Tower.

Police apparently anticipated such a move, the Maiden Tower is closed and is guarded by police.