INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

April 26th, 2008
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety expresses concern about the intentional setting on fire of journalist Uzeyir Jafarov’s VAZ-210 car.

This past Thursday night a bottle which appears to have contained propane was lit on fire under the gas tank of Jafarov’s vehicle, while it was parked in the yard of his apartment building. However, according to Jafarov, the flame went out before the bottle, and subsequently Jafarov’s vehicle, could explode. Jafarov learned of this on Friday morning when he came out to find the right rear tire and wheel well of his vehicle burned. Melted plastic, probably formerly a bottle, that had the smell of propane was also found at the scene by the car.
Jafarov appealed to police on Friday morning and an operative group from Binegedi District Police Department #7 came to the scene. In their turn, they invited fire experts from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, who assessed the damage to the car before it was sent for repairs
IRFS believes that it is very possible that this act of arson is connected with Jafarov’s work as a journalist. Jafarov, who writes about military issues and used to be an editor for the now defunct “Gundalik Azerbayjan,” told IRFS, “Three days ago I gave a statement about a military prisoner. I said generals are inattentive; they don't know when soldiers are taken prisoner. In addition to this, I write a column in '24 Saat' Newspaper. I give statements to opposition newspapers. I am a journalist, and I only have this profession. I don't have any hostilities, any adversarial relations with anyone. Therefore, I believe that this is the latest provocation related to my work as a journalist.”
Recall that Jafarov was also attacked and brutally beat last year on 20 April and received nearly a thousand threatening phone calls on January 28-29, while the Baku Appellate Court considered and did not fulfill a complaint put forth by Jafarov against the Yasamal District Police Department. The lawsuit was prompted by the department's inability to fully investigate the 20 April 2007 attack in which Jafarov sustained severe head trauma. That attack remains "unsolved," despite the fact that Jafarov identified one of his two attackers as Yasamal District policeman Nabi Rajebov.     
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety calls on local law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough and objective investigation into this latest act of aggression against journalist Uzeir Jafarov, and to bring to justice those who are responsible for this hostile and dangerous crime. IRFS also calls on the international community to put pressure on Azerbaijan’s government to ensure the safety of journalists and to guarantee press and expression freedom for all.