New York, April 18, 2012--Azerbaijani authorities must promptly investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of today's brutal assault in Baku on five independent reporters, including award-winning journalist Idrak Abbasov, who is now hospitalized, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
April 2, 2012
Excellency Ilham Aliyev
President of Azerbaijan
The President Palace
Baku, Istiglaliyyat Street, 19
Republic of Azerbaijan
facsimile: + 99 412 492 35 43, 492 06 25
Dear President Aliyev,
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the recent wave of journalist imprisonments in Azerbaijan. With at least six journalists currently behind bars, Azerbaijan is now among the top 10 global jailers of the press, ahead of Uzbekistan and just behind Ethiopia, according to CPJ research. This crackdown comes in the run-up to Eurovision, the international song contest that Baku is hosting in May, which will gather journalists from more than 40 participating countries and fix the world's eyes on Azerbaijan.
Your government has used significant resources to polish the country's image ahead of the Eurovision contest and make it appealing to its international guests. However, we believe your efforts would be meaningless if the government continues to crack down on independent voices in the country. By implementing systematic reform, and urging the relevant authorities to investigate potential abuses of power, we believe you could stem the deterioration of press freedom in Azerbaijan.
According to CPJ research, your government is holding in custody editor Avaz Zeynally and journalist Aidyn Dzhaniyev of the independent daily Khural; reporter Anar Bayramli and his driver, Ramil Dadashev, from the Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV; editor Ramin Bayramov of the Islamic news website Islam-Azeri; and directors Zaur Guliyev and Vugar Gonagov of the regional TV channel Khayal. We are attaching a more detailed list of the imprisoned journalists to this letter.
The journalists have been imprisoned on fabricated, politicized charges--ranging from hooliganism and drug possession to incitement to mass disorder--that stemmed from their work, CPJ research shows. Two of them have already been convicted and are serving prison terms, while the others are jailed pending a trial, according to CPJ sources.
President Aliyev, we call on you to exercise the high authority of your office and instruct the relevant authorities to investigate the cases of these journalists who languish in jail simply because of their critical reporting. We urge you to uphold your declared commitment to international press freedom standards and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of these journalists.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your reply.
New York, March 14, 2012--Azerbaijani authorities must carry out a swift investigation into the ongoing smear campaign against journalist Khadija Ismailova, ensure her safety, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, March 8, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the threats made against Khadija Ismailova, an Azerbaijani journalist known for her investigations into high-level corruption, including secret, offshore businesses of President Ilham Aliyev's family.
The state of press freedom inside the European Union has a significant effect on press freedom outside the EU. That was the message that CPJ Senior European Adviser Jean-Paul Marthoz and I delivered this week when Brussels' leading think tank, the European Policy Center (EPC), hosted us for a policy dialogue marking the launch of our annual survey, Attacks on the Press.
New York, March 1, 2012--At least two journalists were injured and another five suffered the effects of tear gas while covering violent clashes between police and residents of the northeastern city of Quba, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
New York, February 22, 2012--Anar Bayramli, Baku-based correspondent for Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV and news agency Fars, has been imprisoned for two months pending trial over drug charges. The Committee to Protect Journalists has determined the charges are fabricated and calls on authorities in Azerbaijan to release him immediately.
Murders decline, but fatalities rise during coverage of protests. Photographers and freelancers pay an especially high price. Pakistan is the world's most dangerous nation.
Four years after Eynulla Fatullayev was imprisoned on a series of fabricated charges, and more than a year after the European Court of Human Rights ordered his immediate release, the editor finally walked free. In an interview with CPJ, Fatullayev praised the international community for its sustained support. Attacks against domestic journalists covering sensitive subjects continued with impunity. Freelance reporter Rafiq Tagi, who wrote critically about Islamist politics and government policies, died after being stabbed on a Baku street. Two reporters for the pro-opposition newspaper Azadlyg were beaten in reprisal for their work, while the editor of the independent newspaper Khural was jailed in late year on retaliatory charges. Hostility toward international reporters was on the rise: Members of a Swedish television crew working on a human rights documentary were deported; a U.S. freelancer and a British researcher were assaulted; and a photojournalist was denied entry based on her Armenian ethnicity.
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