On 24 December, journalists were assaulted while preparing a news report at the scene of the celebration of President Ilham Aliyev’s 50th birthday.
The celebration, put on by the Sumgayit City Executive Administration featured a 50-meter long cake. However, at the supposedly happy occasion Azadlig newspaper employees Ramin Deko, Vidadi Mammadov, and Namig Jafarli as well as Radio Liberty employee Maarif Chingizoglu reported being physically assaulted and not allowed to work.
Ramin Deko reported to IRFS today:
“My photo camera was seized. The Sumgayit City Executive Administration department head, whose first name is Abulfaz, used inappropriate language to insult the media. Though we told them that we got permission from the police chief, Azer Jahangirov, to film the ceremony, the employees of the Executive Administration ignored it. We then went to Azer Jahangirov and asked for our photo camera back. It was only after this, that a responsible employee from the Executive Administration invited us to the cultural house and returned our photo camera, after deleting several photos. Radio Liberty employee, Maarif Chingizoglu, faced harassment from 4-5 undercover agents while he was filming the ceremony. They demanded that Chingizoglu deletethe records from the camera. However, Maarif refused. They took camera from Maarif forcefully and then returned it to Maarif after deleting the footage. They tore journalist’s coat.”
Deko also said that he has appealed to General Prosecutor-office and Ministry of Internal Affairs about the incident.