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Will holding the IGF12 in Baku improve the freedom of Expression in Azerbaijan?

Although it's up to debate, whether right or wrong, many people I talked to portrayed this picture that there is limited freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. From a number of speakers in the different workshops, the point continued to manifest it's self and sink deeper. It can be a point of denial or a point to reject but the it's near fact that there is limited freedom of speech in a country that successfully hosted the IGF12.

From perspective, the IGF and a number of organisations that take part in it, believe and also campaign for freedom of expression just as the Internet they use. It is thus imperative for a country planning to host this prestigious function to subscribe to the same principles and notions. At the same time, many people are believed to have protested when it was announced that Baku was the host of IGF12, a country that does not respect the freedom of expression.

A lot might have happened according to what people have written. Laptops are said to have been hacked into as Sarah Kendzior talks about the IGF in an Internet surveiling nation.

Although the situation looks really terrible, there is hope that things will change for the better and  from the look of things and according to the different government officials who made talks, it seems the Azerbaijan government is planning and committed to restoring freedom of expression on the Internet among other commitments like having Internet to each house hold by the end of next year.

What is said however does not always sync with what is done and it is in this context that I would wish to engage you. Do you think by hosting the IGF12, the government of Azerbaijan will open up freedom of expression? Do you think the IGF comments might awaken the governmental officials about the freedom of speech of the nationals?

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Comment by Mayengo Tom Kizito on November 16, 2012 at 7:30am

With reports like this one and this one, I think it is only imperative to be optimistic. Although what has been done is almost evil, nothing cannot change! Every thing can be changed and this time around the authorities seem to be ready to cooperate.

I have a feeling hat media freedom is not very far from attainment in Azerbaijan!

Comment by Aida Mahmutović on November 15, 2012 at 10:47am

I don't think that hosting IGF2012 will change the fact there is restricted freedom of expression. This is more like: "OK, we did it, organisation was good, people were aloud to talk whatever they wanted for those 4,5 days - even though the Internet connection wasnt there whatsoever (for whatever reason...hmmm...),everybody (all stakeholders) were present - so who can say there are any restrictions?" ... I am not sure how strong the restrictions really are, but there is no way that one time event like IGF, and I am not trying to diminish its value, is going to change this long lasting situation. 

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