On the 7-th of September the International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity was celebrated in Azerbaijan with the initiative of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and participation of media and human rights representatives. The visit to the grave of the slain Azerbaijani journalist Elmar Huseynov was organized on this occasion as well. (09-SEP-07)
Written by Shahla Ismailova/ HRH Baku on the basis of information from IRFS and Turan News Agency; photo from IRFS

Among the participants were “Turan” News Agency, Institute of Peace and democracy, “Zardabi” Press Center, Media Rights Institute and others.

Correspondence campaign
IRFS Director Emin Huseynov announced the launch of correspondence with Azerbaijan’s journalists through the mail. All of Azerbaijan’s seven wrongfully imprisoned journalists are being sent letters inquiring about their emotional well-being, conditions of detainment, nutrition and so on. At the same, the letters inquire if the journalists have any needs or suggestions, and offers to publish articles that the journalists send. 

The statement was adopted by mass media and civil society institutions in Azerbaijan on the occasion of International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity.

Today, we – representatives of Azerbaijan’s civil society – observe the International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity at the grave of “Monitor” Magazine Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov, who was murdered on 2 March 2005.  We have decided to observe this holiday specifically at this place, because to this day Elamr’s murderers have not been found or punished, and freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan are in danger of being completely eradicated.

In 1942 imprisoned Czech journalist/anti-fascist Julius Fuchik, who was sentenced to death by hanging, wrote the book entitled “Notes from the Gallows” from prison. In honor of this courageous act by Fuchik, since 1958, the day of his hanging, 8 September (1943), has been observed as International Day of Journalists’ Solidarity. At present there are several wrongfully imprisoned journalists in Azerbaijan. They are being kept in unbearable, difficult conditions, and at the same time these journalists are prevented from exercising their rights and cannot continue their writing from prison. Azerbaijan’s prison administration has forbidden them from sending articles and corresponding with the press. In general, over the past two years the freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan has reached a critical point. Journalists work in unbearable conditions; they are imprisoned, beaten and mercilessly fined.  From a more practical point of view, all TV channels are under the government’s control, the internet is monopolized by the state, and the advertising market for the press is in effect non-existent. All of these things have been done by the government to create an information vacuum in Azerbaijan. The end result is that citizens do not know their rights and the government capitalizes on this by pocketing billions of dollars.

Today we appeal to the local and international community, asking that they display solidarity with us in defending freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. In addition we appeal to international organizations and the governments of democratic countries, asking that they call for the government of Azerbaijan to fulfill the obligations they have undertaken in the area of freedom of expression.

Signed by:

Mehman Aliyev, TURAN News Agency Director
Emin Huseynov, IRFS Director
Genimet Zahid, Azadlig Newspaper Chief Editor
Leyla Yunus, Institute for Peace and Democracy Director
Arzu Abdullayev, Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Azerbaijan representative
Ibrahim Mammedli, Zerdabi Press Center Director
Yadigar Mammedli, Democratic Journalists League Chairman
Gezenfer Bayramov, Express Newspaper Chief Editor
Ilham Tumas, Nota Bene Newspaper Co-founder
Sardar Alibeyli, Nota Bene Chief Editor
Haji Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, DEVAMM Director
Zardusht Alizadeh, Journalism School director
Hugug Salamanov, human rights activist/journalist
Ulvi Hasanli, Dalga Youth Movement Chairman
Kalam Huseynov, “Ughur” Organization Chairperson