INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT on writer-journalist rafig tagi’s Assassination

November 25th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, condemns the Azerbaijani government’s indifference to journalism and freedom of the press, which led to the death of writer-journalist Rafig Tagi on November 23rd, the International Day to End Impunity.

Writer-journalist Rafig Tagi was attacked and suffered 6 stab wounds near his home as he was returning from work on the evening of November 19th. Following 7 hours of surgery, doctors were able to save his life. However, on November 21st, Tagi was removed from the intensive care unit and transferred to the general ward. He was apparently left on his own in the hospital without appropriate medical or security supervision. Only on November 23rd were police officers allocated for his security by Interior Ministry. On the same day, at about 3:35pm, his health suddenly deteriorated and he passed away. According to the forensic examination, his death was caused by complications from injuries to his abdomen, but Tagi’s health was so good on November 21 and 22 that he gave interviews to several mass media outlets and was able to talk to visitors.

IRFS believes that if the journalist had been supplied with the necessary treatment after surviving the assassination attempt, he could have been saved. However, in the days following the attack, an indifferent approach was demonstrated towards him by the hospital staff and government authorities.

IRFS believes that Tagi was, in fact, murdered for his journalistic work.

On November 23rd, the International Day to End Impunity, journalists throughout the world, protest against the forces murdering their colleagues. The death of a journalist in Azerbaijan on this day reveales that the situation of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan has deteriorated into a dangerous place. Thus far, nobody has been charged in either Rafig Tagi’s murder, or the murder of Monitor Magazine editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was killed 6 years ago.

IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to bring those responsible for these murders to  justice and end the impunity with which attacks on journalists are carried out today in Azerbaijan.

IRFS calls on the international community to maintain focus on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and demonstrate solidarity with Azerbaijani journalists.