The Risk of FreedomPosted: February 19, 2013
Emin Milli, a 33-year-old blogger, was arrested in Azerbaijan on January 23rd for a participating in a peaceful rally that he helped organize evidenced by one of his Facebook posts. He was released from jail on February 11th.
Emin’s story is not an uncommon one in places with overarching governments and a lack of freedom of the press. Azerbaijan is a prime example of a place with poor press conditions, according to Freedom House. Where most journalists are afraid to anger the government, Milli contests these conditions through social media. He defeats the restrictions on the press by using social media, such as his Twitter account and his blog, as his form of journalism. He said, “It’s important the world knows what is happening in Azerbaijan.”
Organizations like Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, PEN International, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitor the government of Ilham Aliyev, the current president of Azerbaijan. These organizations function internationally and this yields the idea that freedom of the press and free speech should be a universal right. Journalists are hindered from doing their job effectively and being watch dogs of the government when the government will retaliate for words said and written.
Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director for International Freedom of Expression said, “I think that Emin is incredibly brave…while there would be no shame, from my view, in taking time to rest after being released from prison, he continues to speak out loudly and risk his freedom for what he believes in.”
People like Emin are the ones who can further the rights of free speech and press that can in turn promote truth that is needed to give a government accountability.
Is work like Emin’s worth the risk of being put in jail? How can a free press change the living conditions in a country? Should free speech on social media be exempt from restrictions on the press?