IRFS APPEAL TO PRESIDENT ILHAM ALIYEV

September 25th, 2009
Dear President,
The imprisoned Editor-in-chief and Founder of “Gundalik Azerbaijan” and “Realniy Azerbaidjan” Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev turns 33 today.  The journalist has been celebrating his birthday behind bars for the last three years.  

Besides Fatullayev, two more journalists – “Azadlig” Newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid and “Bizim Yol” Newspaper Correspondent Mushfig Huseynov still remain in prison. All of these journalists were convicted on spurious charges, and the real reason for their imprisonment is relentless criticism of the government. E.Fatullayev and G.Zahid have been recognized prisoners of conscience both by the international and local community.
Recently two young bloggers – “Alumni Network” Youth Organization Representative Emin Milli (Abdullayev) and one of “OL” Youth Organization Coordinators, well-known video-blogger Adnan Hajizade were arrested on spurious charges.
The 2 March 2005 murder of "Monitor" Journal Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov remains unsolved to this day.
The broadcasts of "Radio Liberty", "Voice of America" and BBC via FM frequencies in Azerbaijan were ceased on 1 January 2009. These radio stations served political pluralism in the country.
Dear President,
Persecuting journalists and mass media for expressing their ideas freely is damaging to Azerbaijan’s international image and intervenes into normal democratic development of the society.
You declared that improving human rights and freedom of press in Azerbaijan is one of the priorities for Azerbaijan. In addition, the State assistance Fund for Media was established at your initiation. However, mass media needs not only financial assistance but also the situation for the free and safe work of journalists.
In light of what we have written above, we request that You take steps using your authorities to end provocation and spurious charges against media representatives, to immediately release Azerbaijan's wrongfully imprisoned journalists, to find the murderers of Elmar Huseynov, and to restore the FM broadcasts of foreign radios. The release of imprisoned journalists will be a positive step to solve problems related to freedom of press in Azerbaijan.
Respectfully,
Emin Huseynov, Chairman
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety