The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the police interference in the professional work of the journalists during the opposition protests of April 2, 2011 and assesses it as a pressure on freedom of the press. IRFS also condemns the detention of human rights defender Sabuhi Gafarov in temporary prison for over 2 hours.
Specifically, dozens of journalists with PRESS-labeled waistcoats, including Mehman Karimov, were violently dismissed from the area under the instruction of Baku City Chief Police Office Deputy Head Yashar Aliyev. Further, a police officer grabbed IRFS employee Rasim Aliyev on his neck, made him lie on the ground while he was shooting the police as they were making the arrested protesters get into the bus and beating them. Turan News Agency employee Etmad Budagov and Yeni Musavat reporter Elshan Balakhanli also faced harassment from the police and undercover agents while they were photographing. Human Rights Club co-founder Sabuhi Gafarov was detained and taken to temporary detention prison in Khatai district while he was observing the developments in front of the Mirza Fatali Akhundov National Library. Gafarov was set free upon interference of rights defenders.
IRFS believes that this police attitude towards journalists and human rights defenders once again proves the authorities are not tolerant towards the freedom of expression and rights defenders. Such steps not only violate the national legislation of Azerbaijani Republic, but also contradicts with the Azerbaijan’s obligations with international organizations.
IRFS requires the Azerbaijani authorities to take practical measures for punishment of persons who committed illegal actions against journalists and rights defenders. IRFS calls on the international community to apply pressure on Azerbaijan to make it abide by its undertaken obligations.