Local activists raise alarm over alleged internet crackdown in Nakhchivan

August 27th, 2013

The internet cafes are being shut down in Nakhchivan (an Autonomous Republic under Azerbaijan), where record on human rights and political liberties has been dismal over the past years, and has grown worse.

According to Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev, IRFS’ regional correspondent in Nakhchivan, the crackdown on Internet cafés started on August 23, in what Nakhchivani right groups believe is yet another attempt of feudal-style regime to restrict access to information ahead of upcoming presidential election.

Mehdiyev says he has learned about alleged crackdown from  Internet café owners, who wanted to stay anonymous.

“They said that this instruction was given by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nakhchivan. Beginning from August 24 we started to receive news about the closure of Internet cafes in some cities and villages of the region. Even private households’ access to the Internet is restricted ”, said the journalist.

Malahat Nasibova, human rights defender working in Nakhchivan has said that after a short monitoring they have come to the conclusion that the majority of internet cafes in the city of Nakhchivan have been shut down.

“Human rights defenders and members of the political parties in Nakhchivan think that the reason of closure of internet clubs is an attempt to reduce the online activism on the eve of elections. Before the election, such measures may be applied in Baku and other regions as well”, said the human rights defender.

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nakhchivan denied the information about hindering the work of internet cafes to IRFS.