The Power of The Tweet

Free Eynulla Fatullayev
Protests against the journalist's imprisonment (Image by englishpen via Flickr)

After being released from prison, Enyulla Fatullayev has a lot of thanks to give to those who led the campaign against his arrest through the social networking site, Twitter.

The power of the tweet proved to be much more moving than most can imagine. It held the power and granted the initiative to release the imprisoned journalist, Fatullayev after being sentenced in 2007 for criticising the Azerbaijan government’s policies and also for comments on the Khojaly massacre.

After just two days of setting up their Twitter campaign for his release, the UK branch of Amnesty International led the mass tweet for release of  the imprisoned journalist who was ultimately rewarded with a presidential pardoned from further jail time.

Enyulla’s sentence was massively condemned by Reporters Without Borders and International PEN. The Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International deemed his situation in 2011 to become a priority case along with being named a ‘prisoner of conscience’.

At the beginning of this week, there were hundreds of journalists and non-journalists alike who attended the Amnesty International UK annual London media awards event. These people took the initiative given by AIUK to send masses of tweets directed at Azerbaijan’s President. They all pleaded and urged President Aliyev to release and free the compounded journalist immediately.

The guests at this London event were photographed holding signs with the slogan “Eynulla Fatullayevi azad et!” – “Free Eynulla Fatullayev!” in Azeri. Those images were then tweeted to President Aliyev (tweet name @presidentaz). More than 800 people participated in the action days before Fatullayev was released this evening. 

This ‘prisoner of conscience’ has now been added to the list of prisoners pardoned before the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

At the start of his sentence, there were calls for his release from the European Court of Human Rights.

As word of his release trickled to Twitter, many were cautious to believe:

 “#Eynulla Fatullayev FREED?? has anyone confirmed?”

  “Deyilənə görə #Eynulla Fətullayev azad edilib.Təki yalan olmasın. (#Eynulla Fatullayev is free. Hope it is not a lie.)”

And then, with confirmation of the release:

“EYNULLA IS FREE!”

“Detained #Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev has been freed! Thank you so much everyone, especially @AmnestyOnline This is amazing!”

“#Eynulla is free. talked to him. he is in good shape. let it flow”

What is also for certain is that Amnesty International UK did play a powerful role in the release of this sanctioned journalist. It can also be said for journalists alike, a sigh of relief that there are campaigns out there who will be stern on their appeal to raise awareness.

@AmnestyUK: Our twitter action this week was the culmination of years of work by so many organisations. And all of you. Thank you. #Eynulla #Azerbaijan”

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia’s Deputy Director, John Dalhuisen said that:
“Eynulla Fatullayev’s pardon and release are cause for celebration, but we still urge the Azerbaijani authorities to quash his convictions.
“As we celebrate Eynulla’s release we must not forget that many others are still being held on trumped-up charges in Azerbaijani prisons for no other reason than that they have criticised the authorities.
“We are calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan and an end to the recent clampdown on dissenting voices, whether online or on the streets.”
Safely back at home, Eynulla Fatullayev said that:
“I am very happy to be released. I am extremely grateful to Amnesty International, who have campaigned since the beginning. In my opinion you saved me. Thank you to all those who tweeted.”
Happy Tweeting everyone!
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