FOUR JOURNALISTS SUBJECTED TO PRESSURE BY POLICE WHILE TRYING TO OBTAIN INFORMATION ABOUT “FLOWER HOLIDAY” PROTESTERS

May 10th, 2009
Today, May 10, Radio Liberty correspondent Durna Safarli, “Yeni Musavat” Newspaper employees Afgan Mukhtarli and Layla Ilgar, and “Yukselish Namina” Newspaper employee Elchin Hasanov were subjected to pressure by police.

Khadija Ismayilova, director the Baku bureau of Radio Liberty told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that Durna Safarli was at Police Department #39 of the Sabail District of Baku to get information about a group youth planning a protest against “Flower Holiday” who were arrested, when she was subjected to physical pressure by police and insulted by police.  “Police used inappropriate language towards Durna Safarli, who was trying to get information, and exerted physical pressure against her,” said Ismayilova.
“Yeni Musavat” Newspaper correspondents were also subjected to pressure in front of Police Department #39 of the Sabail District of Baku. Afgan Mukhtarli told this to the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. “’Yukselish Namina’ Newspaper correspondent Elchin Hasanov, who was trying to help me, was subjected to physical pressure by police,” said Mukhtarli, emphasizing that force was also used against “Yeni Musavat” Newspaper employee Leyla Ilgar.

E. Hasanov told IRFS that when he tried to intervene as police prepared to hit Afgan Mukhtarli, police used force against him.
 
IRFS attempted to contact Sabail District Police Department #39 about these reports, but phone calls to the police department went unanswered.
 
Today several groups of youth attempted to conduct protect actions in connection with the 30 April school shooting at the State Oil Academy and the conduction of “Flower Holiday” on the heels of such a tragic event.

At 1:30 p.m. in the National Park along the Caspian Sea (“the Boulevard”) a group of youth conducted an action in which they chanted “No to Flower Holiday!,” “No to Terror!,” and “Declare Mourning for the Slain Students!” Police detained five people at the action and took them to Police Department #39.  IRFS witnessed police drag one woman into a police vehicle by her hair (see video link below).
 
At 2 p.m. in Sahil Garden a group of 15-20 youth chanting the same slogans as were shouted in the action in the National Park along the Caspian Sea were detained.  Azerbaijan Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov was on hand at the scene of this protest. When one journalist showed him a photo of police using force against one female protester, he said, “Be quiet, be quiet, why are you so upset?!” One police officer cursed at an IRFS employee. (All of this is in video link below).
Azerbaijan Democratic Party Youth Organization member Jamil Hajiyev told IRFS that police used force against him in the Police Department #39.  IRFS captured several photo of people leaving Police Department #39 in bandages. Human Rights Defenders, including head of Azerbaijan’s Committee Against Torture Elchin Behbudov, gathered outside the police department (see photo link below).
 
Radio Liberty reports that 2 p.m., 20 youth who wanted to lay flowers outside the State Oil Academy were detained by police in front of the nearby Central Bank (former National Bank) and taken to Nasimi District Police Department #22. Among those detained was also National Democrats Institute Azerbaijan Resident Director Arjen de Wolff.
 
Sabail Police Department #39 Operator Safarov (no first name given) told Radio Liberty that 30 youth were detained, statement were taken from them by 5:30 p.m. and then they were all warned and released. 

 

Video: http://www.irfs.az/content/view/2297/1/lang,az/ 

Photo: http://www.irfs.az/component/option,com_datsogallery/Itemid,30/func,viewcategory/catid,243/lang,az/