The International Crisis Group published a new media release “Azerbaijan: Attacks on Media Hurt Conflict Resolution “. The release supposes that the obvious deterioration of the media freedom and human rights impacts the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in a negative way. See the article with the text of the media release. (27-NOV-06)
Placed on website by Shahla Ismailova/HRH Baku
The Azerbaijani government’s aggressive moves to silence independent media and the leading opposition party last week not only raise obvious human rights problems but will have a detrimental effect on efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On 24 November, the authorities took the country’s first, biggest and most professional independent TV and radio broadcaster, ANS, off the air. The same day, police forcibly evicted the key opposition party, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, two opposition dailies Azadlig and Bizim Yol and the Turan information agency from their Baku offices.
The hasty government actions were taken after proceedings that lacked transparency and political neutrality. The parties were unable to appeal before the decisions were implemented. Following a pattern of harassment of Azerbaijan’s independent journalists since 2003, Friday’s events once again put into question Azerbaijan’s commitment to protecting freedom of speech and upholding the rule of law.
To facilitate the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the International Crisis Group has called for the opening of a genuine popular debate on the conflict. ANS has tended to take a hard line on Nagorno-Karabakh, but it was open to a range of opinions and kept popular opinion informed of developments related to the issue. The closure of ANS will stifle the public discussion and information sharing that is so essential to acceptance by Azerbaijani society of any resolution to the conflict.
Azerbaijan’s international partners – the EU and its member states, the U.S., the OSCE, the Council of Europe and others – should in unequivocal terms call on the Government of President Ilham Aliev to restore media freedoms protected in the Azerbaijani Constitution and in commitments made as a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and as a recent signatory of an EU Neighborhood Action Plan.