INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

March 16th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the interference with the operation of the journalists' professional activity in the recent protests, and deems it a violation of law.

Turan news agency photographer Etimad Budagov was kicked at his stomach during the Great People’s Day youth protests on March 11. On the same day, Radio Liberty photo correspondent Abbas Atillay also faced harassment. His left cheek was injured. On March 12, IRFS representative human rights defender Rasul Jafarov was arrested during the Musavat party protests and taken to police department #28. The police attempted to sentence him to administrative punishment. However, after the intervention of other human rights defenders and his own protests, he was told that it was a misunderstanding and he was set free. On March 14, Azadlig correspondent Ramin Deko, who arrived at Baku State University to cover the planned youth protest in the area, was detained by undercover agents and taken to the University. He was released an hour later. “Deyerler.org” website correspondent Orkhan Rzayev was also detained by the University guards: his camera and mobile phone were, and their memories were wiped clean.   IRFS states that the interference with professional work of the journalists is banned by both local and international legislation, and this contradicts Azerbaijan’s international obligation. IRFS suggests that these affairs must be investigated and the guilty parties must be punished. IRFS calls on Azerbaijani authorities to take practical measures to stop the pressures on the journalists, find and punish the guilty persons and take serious steps to prevent further issues of this kind. IRFS also calls on the international community to demand Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations.