INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

June 17th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the physical attack against an American journalist Amanda Erickson and Birtish human rights activist, IRFS representative Celia Davies by unidentified men on the night of 15 June.

The incident took place at about 00.20 am, June 16, near the house where Celia Davies and Amanda Ericksson live. Earlier, the girls had noticed four young men who looked like sportsmen watching them. These same four men held down the girls and beat them without explanation. As a result, the girls were seriously injured.  Celia Davies’ arm was broken and she needs medical treatment.

IRFS does not rule out the association of the incident with their professional work. Specifically, the attackers had earlier been following Davies and Erickson, and then beat them severely: they held down the girls and kicked them and repeated it until the girls were injured – nothing was stolen from the girls.

Erickson and Davies worked with local NGOs and provided training for journalists and civil society activists. Erickson has also worked with the Washington Post and The New York Times.

IRFS states that the publication of a black smear article on Yeni Azerbaijan newspaper against IRFS and its chairman Emin Huseynov immediately after the incident (17 June, 2011, http://www.yeniazerbaycan.com/news/14305.html ) indicates that the instance of the beating is not happenstance. The said newspaper is officially run by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP).

IRFS recalls that the Azerbaijani ruling regime complicated the visa granting rules for foreigners on the eve of 2010 November parliamentary elections. On April 17, 2011, 3 journalists from Sweden that wanted to cover the protest rally were taken to the police office and deported from the country a day later.

IRFS believes that the Azerbaijani ruling establishment, ahead of organizing Eurovision 2012, which will bring multiple foreigners to the country, should put an end to the aforementioned negative trends.

IRFS demands that the Azerbaijani authorities to punish the attackers and the persons behind the attack. IRFS also calls on the international community to pay attention to this issue and demand that the Azerbaijani government fulfill its international human rights obligations.