The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) is extremely concerned about the recent death threats that have been made against "Gundalik Azerbayjan" editor Uzeir Jafaorv.
Jafarov told the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety that in the afternoon on January 28 he received over 300 phone calls to his mobile phone in which a man repeatedly told Jafarov, "I am going to destroy you" and "I am going to haunt you." This situation repeated itself on January 29, when Jafarov received over 600 of these phone calls, all from a hidden phone number.
Interestingly enough, on January 28 the Baku Appellate Court considered and did not fulfill a complaint put forth by Uzeir Jafarov against the Yasamal District Police Department. The complaint was promoted by the police department's inability to fully investigate a 20 April 2007 attack in which Jafarov sustained severe head trauma. That attack, which occurred outside of "Gundalik Azerbayjan" Newspaper's editorial office on the day that "Realny Azerbayjan" and "Gundalik Azerbayjan" Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Eynulla Fatullayev was imprisoned, remains "unsolved," despite the fact that Jafarov identified one of his two attackers as Yasamal District policeman Nabi Rajebov.
IRFS notes that this is not the first case in which journalists in Azerbaijan have been threatened by unknown callers. "Yeni Musavat" Newspaper Nakhchivan correspondent Hakim Eldostu Mehdiyev, "24 Saat" Newspaper Chief Editor Fikret Faramezoglu, imprisoned "Realny Azerbayjan" and "Gundalik Azerbayjan" Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Eynulla Fatullayev and IRFS co-founder, Turan News Correspondent Sarvan Rizvanov received death threats from hidden telephone numbers last year. Complaints filed with law enforcement agencies regarding these incidents all went unsolved, and according to the information that IRFS has, not a single person has even been brought to criminal responsibility for making a threat against a mass media representative in Azerbaijan.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan's law enforcement organs to seriously investigate the threats made against Uzeir Jafarov and to ensure Jafaorv's safety. It is particularly important that investigation into these threatening phone calls to be carried out by a completely independent party that has no interest in the previous attack of Jafarov or subsequent investigations and lawsuits related to that incident.
IRFS also believes that "Azercell," the mobile telephone service provider that Jafarov subscribes to, should provide assistance in this case by revealing the identity of the owners of the telephone numbers from which someone made a threatening phone call to Jafaorv. In this manner, "Azercell" could play an integral role in putting an end to the long-standing impunity for perpetrators in criminal cases where journalists are victims.
Lastly, IRFS calls on international organizations to follow this situation closely, and to demand that Azerbaijan's law enforcement agencies conduct a thorough and complete investigation into the threats made against Jafarov. Based on past events, there is not doubt that the threat to Jafaorv's life is real, and the need for timely and adequate preventive measures is urgent.