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People in Azerbaijan live in fear. We fear for our lives, we fear for our jobs, we fear for the lives and jobs of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we fear for our friends. We fear every time when someone close to us dares to disagree with you. We also pay a high price when we dare not to fear.

Before 2009 I had criticized you mostly online. Then I was attacked in the centre of Baku. I was arrested and later sentenced in a show trial on fake charges of hooliganism. My father died while I was in jail, his health was deteriorating since the day of my arrest. I could not be there when he was placed in hospital and I was not there the day I lost him. Some of my relatives and friends lost their jobs. They were told that they are too close to “the enemy of the state”. Now, many people I knew are afraid to communicate with me online and offline and I can understand them.

In our interconnected world, civil society, states and businesses from across the world must work together to thrive in our global information society. This is the meaning and the spirit of this Internet Governance Forum. Internet governance can’t properly serve sustainable human, economic and social development without freedom of expression, the rule of law and efficient democratic governance.

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Academics Rally to Defend Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke is a Georgetown law student who has been targeted by Rush Limbaugh since giving testimony about the importance of insurance policies providing contraceptive coverage. The academic community has issued a statement in response to the misogynistic attacks that have been launched by Limbaugh and his supporters. It’s available as a .pdf (with a list of signatories) here, and the statement text is below:

The undersigned faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center and other law schools strongly condemn the recent personal attacks on our student, Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke has had the courage to publicly defend and advocate for her beliefs about an important issue of widespread concern. She has done so with passion and intelligence. And she has been rewarded with the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate. As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them.

Limbaugh’s hateful attacks are despicable. I’m incredibly happy to see the academic community publicly rally behind Fluke and would be delighted if this kind of hate speech were prosecuted. If there’s any group that’s likely to have the chops to do this it’s the massive body of lawyers from around America who have stood up in support of Sandra. Losing advertisers and a poor apology aren’t enough: Limbaugh should be prosecuted for his intentionally slanderous and libel speech.