English language translation of AFU statement

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION – quotes from Morningstar from original English video rather than translated

[AZTL;DR background]

Free Thought University (AFU) Statement
on the day’s events
(April 11, 2013)

On April 11, the U.S. ambassador to our country [ed: Azerbaijan], Mr. Richard Morningstar spoke to a group of listeners from AFU. Although the ambassador’s speech was planned in advance, the location of the meeting had to be changed at the last moment due the closure of AFU’s office by the prosecutor’s office. Speaking before AFU, Ambassador Morningstar said that it was “a tremendous honor to be speaking at AFU.”

Ambassador Morningstar noted that, the U.S. Mission to the OSCE gave its first annual USOSCE Ambassadorial Award for Freedom of Expression over the Internet to AFU in 2010. This award was given to AFU for its significant, sustained and innovative use of the internet, especially new media, to promote democratic reform, civil society, independent media, human rights, and the rule of law. He also emphasized that the Embassy organizes meetings for visiting officials at Free Thought University, because AFU offers “such a delightful forum for thoughtful and engaging discussion; the kind of thing you find at any good university campus.”

Speaking about AFU, Mr. Ambassador also added: “I was particularly disappointed to hear that authorities closed your offices just last night.”

In a few hours we will disseminate the video of Ambassador Richard Morningstar’s speech to AFU. [Ed: Video has since been disseminated]

Today both the Media Rights Institute and the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety issued statement expressing concerns about the closure of AFU.

Regarding the information disseminated today by the prosecutors about the closure of AFU and OL!, we can say that OL! is simply a movement, the structure is not one of an NGO that has a charter. The “characteristics” noted in the prosecutor’s statement are relevant to registered NGOs. However OL! is a youth movement and Azerbaijan’s legislation does not contain mechanisms or legal norms for registration for this type of entity. We also note that, today in Azerbaijan there is no legal norm that prohibits the activities of unregistered non-commercial entities. Only on March 11 of this year did legislation go into effect that envisaged administrative liability for the receipt of grants by unregistered organizations, and since that date AFU has not received any grants. The generic viagra price new legislation is not retroactive. In accordance with the new legislation, OL! has been pursuing legal options. From this perspective, the prosecutor’s closure of AFU is completely groundless. If closure of an office occurs, in connection with this the reason for the closure must be explained, someone has to be ordered to protect the door and seal, and, most fundamentally, there must be a court order about closure of the office.

So that leaves the Prosecutors “resolute refutation” of reports of the closure of Free Thought University. For the restoration of AFU’s activities, we call for the prosecutor office to remove the stamp and seal on AFU’s office so that the office is once again open to AFU’s listeners.

In conclusion, we note that AFU and OL! are only movement projects and they have no connection to any other organization. A little while earlier, we provided additional information about AFU on a posting entitled “Backgrounder for the Press” on our Facebook page. There, more in-depth information was provided.
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