In July 2009, Adnan Hajizada, an '05 graduate of University of Richmond, was arrested, detained and beaten in Azerbaijan after he and another blogger posted a satirical YouTube video criticizing the nation's government.
Hajizada is coming to campus Nov. 22 to give a talk titled "From Resident Assistant to Hooligan." Vincent Wang, associate dean of arts and sciences, said this would be the first time Hajizada was allowed to travel abroad since he was arrested.
At the time of his arrest, 18 school officials, including Wang, sent protest letters to Virginia congressional delegates and the president of Azerbaijan. Hajizada and the other blogger were sentenced to jail in Azerbaijan for two years. He was released after serving 16 months of his sentence after President Barack Obama demanded the release of the two bloggers, and Azerbaijan's president agreed.
Uliana Gabara, former dean of international education, said Hajizada would be discussing what he had learned at Richmond about being an active and empowered citizen of a democratic country and how this affected his return to Azerbaijan. She said he would also be discussing how this resulted in him becoming an activist and a political prisoner.
Gabara said she hoped many students would consider how dedicated they were to freedom of expression after hearing Hajizada's talk.
"As students prepare for their life beyond college," Gabara said, "it is important that they think of their role and responsibilities as members of society and what that entails. With the university's focus on civic engagement, the subject is very much a part of the campus conversation, but that rarely reaches such extreme situations, and yet it is in considering extremes that we can question the mundane."
The event is at 3 p.m. Nov. 22 in the Brown Alley Room in Weinstein Hall.
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