The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety resolutely condemns the showing of the film “Iflas” (Bankruptcy) on “Lider TV” last Tuesday, 22 April 2008, at 9 p.m. in Azerbaijan.

The approximately 43-minute “documentary” film, which is unabashed black PR against independent newspaper “Azadlig” and leader of opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli, presents completely unbalanced and unsubstantiated information, includes pornographic images and foul language, and makes claims that are outright false.  

Through the showing of “Iflas,” countless local laws, as well as international agreements, were violated, never mind the fact that unacceptable acts committed by people working in the government are reflected in the film – for example the discussion of opposition leader Ali Kerimli’s sexuality in parliament.  

IRFS spent the majority of last week analyzing this film, only to find out that the narratives given in the film are riddled with grammatical errors and include many incomplete expressions that can be completely misunderstood by viewers. This not only reflects a lack of journalistic professionalism on the part of “Lider TV,” but also confirms that the intention of this film is not to introduce well thought out and substantiated facts, but instead just to bombard people with sensational, and at times even pornographic, images and verbiage that have no place on primetime television in any country.  

In IRFS’ opinion, the timing of this film is no coincidence. “Iflas” appears to be an attempt to expand upon slanderous video footage about “Azadlig” Newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil that was shown on “Lider TV” last month1 and to defame a member of the political opposition in the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections.  

IRFS believes that the showing of “Ilfas” confirms what countless human rights activists and leaders of independent mass media institutions have long been claiming; although Azerbaijani government officials are forever espousing the need for independent and opposition journalists in Azerbaijan to be more professional, it is in fact mass media serving Azerbaijan’s current regime that most vulgarly perverts journalism ethics.  

In light of what is written above, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety calls on the National TV and Radio Council to take immediate measures against “Lider TV” for its flagrant violation of local and international legislation through the showing of “Iflas,” and to put an immediate end to these types of disgraceful, illegal broadcasts, which are a total affront to Azerbaijan’s national morals and values and damage Azerbaijan’s international image. In the same token, IRFS calls on local law enforcement agencies to prosecute to the furthest extent of the law all people who from a position of authority gave the order for the production and/or broadcast of “Iflas.” Lastly IRFS calls on the international community to the hold the government of Azerbaijan responsible for these incidents, to put actual sanctions in place to prevent programs of this nature from ever being shown on television again, and to compel the government of Azerbaijan to respect the rights of all people and to fulfill all of its international obligations in the area of human rights.  

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