34 Journalists Beaten and Harassed in Baku

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September 15, 1998


His Excellency Heidar Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan


Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply troubled by the September 12 beating and harassment of 34 journalists in Baku while they were covering a banned opposition rally that was broken up by police.

Police violently dispersed a crowd of several hundred opposition demonstrators, who had gathered to demand the cancellation of presidential elections on October 11. Police beat and harassed the journalists, confiscating cameras, tape recorders and press id cards, as they were covering the violence. At least two journalists were detained for several hours. The journalists who were targeted include:

• Azer Sariyev of Express
• Tahir Mamedov and Rasul Mursaqulov of Chag
• Rey Kerimoglu of Sharq
• Azer Rashidoglu of Ayna
• Faiq Qazanfaroglu of Millet
• Elman Maliyev of Khurriyet
• Mohammed Ersoy of Yurd Yeri
• Ibrahim Niyazli of Democratic Azerbaijan
• Anar Mammadli of Azerbaijan Gencleri
• Movsun Mammadov of Monitor magazine
• Khalig Bahadur, Ajdar, Haji Zamin, and Sarvan Rizvanov of Azadliq
• Elmir Suleymanov of ANS TV
• Ilqar Shakhmaroglu, Nebi Rustamov, Taghi Yusifov, and Shakhbaz Khuduoglu of Qanun magazine
• Lachin Semra of Mukhalifat
• Tahir Pasha and Natiq Javadli of Olaylar
• Taptyg Farkhadoglu of the Turan agency
• Movlud Javadov, Kamil Taghisoy, Shakhin Jafarli, Sebukhi Mammadli, Azer Qarachanli, and Zamina Aliqizi of Yeni Musavat
• Eldaniz Badalov of Bu Gun
• Allakhverdi Donmez of Tezadlar
• Mekhseti Sherif of Rezonans
• Tunzale Rafiqqizi of Ana Veten

Journalists reported that police also attempted to break in to the building housing several opposition and independent news outlets, including the newspapers Azadliq and Chag, and the Turan news agency. As a non partisan organization dedicated to defending the universally recognized rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ condemns this violent attack by Baku police against journalists for practicing their profession.

This act of police brutality and harassment, deliberately targeting reporters and news photographers, violates all of your country's international commitments to ensure the rights of journalists to freely and safely practice their profession. This incident marks only the latest of many cases of police harassment of journalists and abuses of press freedom in your country, which have fostered a climate of fear and intimidation among the media. We urge you to rigorously investigate this case and prosecute those responsible.

Thank you for your attention. We await your comments.




Ann K. Cooper

Executive Director

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His Excellency Heidar Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan

Fax: 011-99412-92-06-25