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Birthday Solidarity Action for Jabbar Savalan

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Eynulla Fətullayev's was released from prison in Azerbaijan earlier this year, but it hasn't been long before his place was taken by another human rights activist.

Jabbar Savalan will be 20 on 4 September. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on made-up drugs charges (not dissimilar to Eynulla). He had posted an entry on Facebook calling for a "Day of Rage" inspired by protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty International considers him a Prisoner of Conscience and believes he was punished for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. We would like to think he will be supported by people from the UK and around the world.

Jabbar is a football fan. His favourite team is Liverpool, and his favourite player is Fernando Torres.

If you have time, could you please send birthday cards (football-themed would be great) to

Jabbar Savalan
Detention Centre No. 10
Muzaffar Narimanov Street
Narimanov District
Baku City
AZERBAIJAN

Jabbar’s birthday is on Sunday 4 September. Mail from the UK takes 7-10 days to reach him.

Please include the following message in Azeri in your card (which means ‘Happy birthday Jabbar’):

Ad günün mübarək olsun Cabbar

There's also a 'Free Jabbar' action  that you can take on the Amnesty International UK website.

Finally, the Guardian data blog has posted some fascinating information on how the Former Soviet Union states are doing, 20 years on.

Azeri bloggers appeal hearing today

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Update: The hearing for Emin Abdullayev and Adnan Hajizade has been put back to 8 January 2010. Please continue to send letters on their behalf.

A new urgent action, and update, from Amnesty International on the case of the jailed Azeri bloggers.

Two jailed male Azerbaijani youth activists and bloggers will have their appeal heard in the capital, Baku, on 22 December. Emin Abdullayev and Adnan Hajizade were imprisoned on charges Amnesty International believes to have been fabricated.

The two youth activists and bloggers were arrested on charges of “hooliganism” on 8 July, after reporting to police that they had been assaulted in a restaurant in Baku. Their arrest came just over a week after Adnan Hajizade posted a video critical of the Azerbaijani government on the video-sharing website YouTube. On 11 November, Adnan Hajizade was sentenced to two years, and Emin Abdullayev to two and a half years, after being convicted in an unfair trial.

On 23 November, Emin Abdullayev and Adnan Hajizade’s lawyers filed an appeal against the verdict. On 10 December the lawyers informed Amnesty International that the two youth activists and bloggers had been granted a hearing at the Baku Court of Appeal on 22 December.

Please write immediately in English, Azeri, or your own language:

  • Urging the authorities to ensure that Adnan Hajizade and Emin Abdullayev receive a fair appeal hearing in line with international fair trial standards;
  • Noting that Amnesty International believes them to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association, and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

I have prepared updated letters to the Minister of Justice, the Ombudsperson and the Azerbaijan Embassy in London.

Azerbaijani bloggers imprisoned after unfair trial

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From Amnesty International on 18 November 2009:

Azerbaijani youth activists and bloggers Emin Abdullayev (aged 30) and Adnan Hajizade (aged 26) have been sentenced to two and a half years and two years respectively in an unfair trial. Amnesty International believes the charges against them were fabricated and they have been imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

On 28 June, a satirical video made by Adnan Hajizade criticizing the Azerbaijani government was posted on the video-sharing website YouTube. On 8 July, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Abdullayev (who blogs under the name Emin Milli) were approached by two men as they were dining with friends in a restaurant in the capital Baku. The men demanded to know what they were talking about. When Emin Abdullayev replied that it did not concern the two men, one of the men head-butted him and he fell to the floor. The same man then struck Adnan Hajizade, knocking him to the ground, and continued to kick and beat Adnan Hajizade and Emin Abdullayev until restaurant staff intervened.

Adnan Hajizade and Emin Abdullayev immediately went to a local police station to report the incident. However, police officers interrogated them as suspects for five hours, denying them access to a lawyer of their choosing and arrested them on charges of ‘hooliganism’. The activists were remanded in custody pending their trial. They were later also charged with inflicting minor bodily harm.

During their investigation the police and prosecutors failed to interview witnesses and to obtain video evidence from a security camera which may have recorded the incident in the restaurant. They also submitted documents to the court which wrongly stated that Adnan Hajizade was unemployed and that he had a criminal record. According to the activist’s lawyers, at the trial the court refused to consider photographs showing the injuries they sustained in the attack, as well as video evidence from mobile phones and the security camera, but provided no explanation as to why. The two men were convicted and sentenced to two and a half and two years respectively in prison. Emin Abdullayev and Adnan Hajizade intend to appeal against the decision.

There is a letter calling for the release of Emin and Adnan, which you can send to President Aliyev, the Minister of Justice, the Ombudsperson and the Azerbaijani Ambassador in London.

£3736.56

Posted in amnesty, book sale


Amnesty book sale 2009, originally uploaded by Eat your greens!.

The Amnesty November book sale is over and we raised an amazing £3736.56, which brings our total for 2009 to a phenomenal £16,500. Many thanks to everyone who volunteered time to help set up the Church of the Ascension and also sell books on the day. Thanks also to the Ascension for allowing us to take over their church for the three days it takes to set up the November sale. Finally, thanks also to everyone who offered books to the group. We’re sorry that we haven’t been able to accept donations for the November sale. There were simply so many books leftover from June that we were kept busy trying to sell those. I will try to contact everyone who offered books and suggest some alternative places which may be collecting. We will start collecting books again in May 2010.

Amnesty book sale, 14th November 2009

Posted in amnesty, book sale

8th annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty clearance book sale
Saturday 14th November 2008
10am until 4pm
Church of the Ascension
Dartmouth Row
Blackheath SE10 8BF

20,000 new and used books at bargain prices. In June we raised a record-breaking £12,500 for Amnesty International UK but we still have thousands of books left to sell. We hope to raise a further £3,000 by selling the unsold books in November.

If you would like to help with preparing for the sale, or are interested in collecting unsold books at the end of the day, please leave a comment using the form below.

You can also find us on Upcoming and facebook. Flyers can be downloaded from flickr.

Belarus: Stop the execution of Vasily Yusepchuk

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Vasily Yusepchuk was sentenced to death by Brest Regional Court on 29 June 2009. He was convicted of murdering six elderly women. On 2 October his appeal against the death sentence was turned down by the Supreme Court. In Belarus, people who have been sentenced to death have 10 days in which to apply for clemency after their appeals are rejected. Only one request for clemency has been granted since President Lukashenka came to power in 1994.

Vasily Yusepchuk, belongs to a marginalized group; he is a Roma who does not have an internal passport which is a requirement of all citizens in Belarus. He may have an intellectual disability and his lawyer has stated that he is illiterate and unable to tell the months of the year. Vasily Yusepchuk has alleged that he was beaten while in pre-trial detention on two separate occasions in January and in March.

In Belarus, condemned prisoners are given no warning that they are about to be executed, and they are usually executed within minutes of being told that their appeal for clemency has been rejected. They are first taken to a room where, in the presence of the Director of the detention facility, the Prosecutor and one other Ministry of Interior employee, they are told that their appeal for clemency has been turned down and that the sentence will be carried out. They are then taken to a neighbouring room where they are forced to their knees and shot in the back of the head. Their families will only be informed days or sometimes weeks after the execution that their relative has been executed.

You can send an e-mail to President Lukashenka calling for clemency for Vasily Yusepchuk.

£12,500

Posted in amnesty, book sale

Amnesty book sale 2009, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

I’ve been neglecting this blog, so I never posted an update on the Amnesty book sale this summer. The total take on the day was a phenomenal £11,700! Since then, we’ve received some donations and sold the Encyclopedia Britannica on e-bay, bringing the total raised to £12,500. Our highest total ever. Many thanks to everyone who gave up their time, over the five weeks leading up to the sale, to get it all together.

The leftover books, of which there were plenty, will go on sale again on Saturday 14th November at the Church of the Ascension.

Wandsworth Amnesty Embassy Crawl

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I joined Wandsworth Amnesty on their annual Embassy Crawl this weekend, the fourth year that I’ve gone along. This year’s theme was Amnesty International’s Individuals at Risk campaign. It was great to see everyone from the Wandsworth group and a lovely day for a walk through London and lunch by the Serpentine (even with the starlings trying to steal my chips). We visited nine embassies and delivered a letter to each on behalf of an individual or group; India, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Burma, Egypt, Algeria, Iran, Colombia and Syria. I’ve put up a set of photos on Flickr, with links from individual photos to the relevant Amnesty International actions.

35th annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty book sale

Posted in amnesty, book sale

Amnesty International book sale 2009
2009 Book Sale Leaflet, originally uploaded by eat your greens.

35th annual Blackheath & Greenwich Amnesty book sale
Saturday 20th June 2009
9am until 5pm
Church of the Ascension
Dartmouth Row
Blackheath SE10 8BF

20,000 new and used books at bargain prices. Last year we raised a record-breaking £11,700 for Amnesty International UK. I’m not sure we’ll manage that again, but please come along and help us by buying a few books to read over the summer.

This sale is dependent entirely on the hard work of a small team of volunteers and generous donations of books. If you would like to help with preparing for the sale, or would like to donate books, please leave a comment using the form below.

You can also find us on Upcoming and Facebook. Flyers can be downloaded from flickr.

Don’t let Mukhametkuli Aymuradov die in prison

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Mukhametkuli Aymuradov is a 63-year-old businessman who was imprisoned in 1995 in Turkmenistan after an unfair trial. His family have been informed recently that he will be released on 2 May 2009. Amnesty International have asked that pressure be kept up on the Turkmenistan authorities to honour their promise to release him. He is in extremely poor health and his family are worried that he is being denied access to the medical care that he needs.

I’ve drafted a letter to President Berdymukhamedov welcoming the news of his release and calling on the authorities to ensure that he is released promptly on 2 May. Feel free to download the letter and send copies yourself. We will hopefully have copies for people to sign tomorrow night during our regular letter-writing at Greenwich Picturehouse.

21st March was also New Year, Nowrouz, in Central Asia. Please also consider sending a card expressing support to Mukhametkuli Aymuradov’s family.  Flower themes are most appropriate, with a message such as “we are thinking of you during the Nowrouz festivities”. Cards should be addressed to:
Mukhametkuli Aymuradovu
AH-K3 poselok Ovadan-depe
rayon Ovadan Depe
Turkmenistan

Update

Wonderful news from Gitti Dunham, Amnesty’s coordinator for Central Asia. Mukhametkuli Aymuradov was released from prison on 2 May.