INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

December 22nd, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic authority’s threat and smear campaign against Nakhchivan Democracy and NGO Development Resource Centre and the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety.

On 15 December, Nakhchivan Democracy and NGO Development Resource Centre Public Union employees Ilgar Nasibov and Vefadar Eyvazov faced harassment. Elman Abbasov, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety correspondent in Nakhchivan, who came to the site of the incident, was insulted and threatened. Elman Abbasov collaborates with the NGO Development Resource Centre Public Union in addition to his reporting for IRFS in Nakhchivan.

Instead of investigating pressure and attacks against journalists and NGO representatives and punish the perpetrators, the leadership of the Autonomous Republic continues its smear campaign against injured people. On 18 December, the Permanent Delegation of the Autonomous Republic in Baku and Autonomous Republic Internal Affairs Ministry made unfounded claims regarding the Resource Centre and IRFS in the statement in which they denied that the incident occurred. On 21 December, Resource Center employee Ilgar Nasibov received a call from the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Ministry of Tax and was told that the Ministry will begin inspecting the organization in 15 days.

IRFS considers that the phone call from the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Tax Ministry regarding the examinations in the Resource Centre is aimed at threatening and blackmailing the NGO. The statement of the Permanent Delegation of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in Baku and Autonomous Republic Internal Affairs Ministry which have the responsibility to bring people responsible for beating the NGO representatives to the justice shows that the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Administration demonstrates intolerance against NGOs and media.

IRFS calls upon the leadership of Azerbaijan Republic and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic to respect human rights and freedom of speech, end threat and smear campaign against civil society representatives and journalists, and punish people who are behind these actions.