The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the eliberate and calculated attack on the media during November 17 opposition rally in owntown Baku and calls on the government of Azerbaijan to take action against police fficers who assaulted four journalists in the presence of witnesses.
IRFS is deeply troubled by the fact that more than 20 journalists have been deniedaccess to some demonstration sites. The authorities ordered the riot police to installthe barricades and not to let media through. “Police obstruction of journalists coveringdemonstrations is unacceptable. It is creating an intimidatory atmosphere that means
people are less likely to go out and cover protests”, says IRFS Chair Emin Huseynov.
Yeni Musavat newspaper correspondent Farahim Ilgaroglu, Turan Information Agency eporter Etimad Budagov, Media Forum correspondent Amid Suleymanov and IRFS orrespondent Rasim Aliyev were subject to physical pressure by police employees, hile covering the protest. The police violently kicked and punched the four journalists espite of the fact that they were wearing press jackets and large press badges. The ssaults were captured in photographs and on video.
Ironically, this vicious and brazen attack happened just a week after the workshop on he safety of reporters, which was held by the Office of the OSCE Representative on reedom of the Media in cooperation with the Press Council of Azerbaijan and the OSCE ffice in Baku. The training took place on the invitation and with the financial support f the Government of Azerbaijan. The event urged journalists to wear press jackets to uarantee their safety during riots.
“We hoped that the riot police pressure on media during protests would relax after the raining. On the contrary, police pressure on the media has doubled”, says IRFS Chair.
The four journalists are the latest victims in a string of police brutality incidents at series of peaceful protests that having been organized by the opposition since last pring.
IRFS demands that the police conduct disciplinary investigations and punish those esponsible. IRFS calls on the minister of interior and the chief of national police to take he necessary measures to prevent similar events in the future. IRFS calls on Azerbaijani overnment to put in place laws to ensure the safety of journalists.
IRFS reminds that threats and attacks are never investigated and culprits and hardly ver brought to book.
IRFS condemns the use of violence to restrict freedom of expression and calls for the uthorities to end this vicious cycle by immediately and impartially investigating all ttacks against journalists and bringing those responsible to justice.