Tural Abbasli, aged 29, is a blogger, journalist, and head of the youth wing of the Musavat Party, one of the two main opposition parties in Azerbaijan. He used Facebook to criticize the country's government, and was involved in planning peaceful anti-government protests in March and April 2011. On April 2, 2011, Tural was arrested along with 13 other activists while taking part in an unauthorized protest against government corruption and abuses of human rights. Punched, kicked, and beaten with a baton, he was prevented from seeing his lawyer for the first two days he was in detention, and was later sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for "organizing public disorder." In what he and others feel were politically motived moves, he was expelled from Baku State University where he had been pursuing a postgraduate degree in journalism, and his aunt and two brothers have all been fired or suspended from their jobs. He has now appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan. Amnesty International considers Tural Abbasli to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely because of his peaceful activism.
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