In Azerbaijan journalists are working in a risky environment. “I think it is high time to write White Book to enter names of journalists – victims of the regime – into it,” human rights defender Leyla Yunus (right) commented on the situation of press in connection with National Press Day. (22-JUL-2008)
Placed on website by Shahla Ismayilova/HRH Azerbaijan on the basis of materials from IPD, IRFS, Turan News Agency; photos by Shahla Ismayilova, IRFS, Turan
Leyla Yunus mentioned murdered Elmar Huseynov, Alim Kazimov, who has died of disease provoked by police violence, beaten and kidnapped journalists as well as psychological and physical pressure on Agil Halil. Yunus claims that authorities’ goal is to suppress freedom of speech and expression. She said it is impossible to speak about level of journalism professionalism in such a repressive environment. We first need to discuss journalists’ right to life and their self-preservation and then proceed to discussion of their professional level. “As long as Criminal Code of the country contains articles 147 and 148, officials will always have a chance to throw journalists in jail. Officials are hiding their crimes behind these articles, blocking the way to their solution to journalists,” she said.
Human rights defender Murad Sadaddinov (right) said Azerbaijani journalists are working in the worst environment on the territory of OSCE and Council of Europe. Journalists are poorly paid for their job and this fact hinders development of professionalism. “I think that professionalism is a gerenal problem for the country, because it is directly linked to education system,” said Sadaddinov. Authorities must resolve the problems brought up by journalists, instead of forcing journalists to shut their mouth, said human rights defender.
Musavat party’s leader Isa Gambar (right) said Azerbaijani journalists are working in a risky environment. Those writing the truth could be called heroes. As far as professionalism is concerned, we have professionals and those, who have just heard about that. But professionalism in press is higher, than in other fields. It becomes more and more difficult for the authorities to tolerate journalists. They think that it would have been much better and easier to live without jounalists, said Gambar.
Eldar Namazov (right), head of Forum In The Name of Azerbaijan, said number of arrested journalists and closed newspapers shows environment, in which press is working. Situation is the same in the society and in press, said politician. He said there are some very professional media, those controlled by specific groups and newspapers-racketeers.
“Authorities treat media in the same way as NGOs, parties and other social groups. Authorities would like to totally control everything, including press,” Namazov said.
Elchin Shikhly (right), chairman of the Journalists Union, said the journalists are working in very hard conditions. “I mean only professional journalists,” added Shikhly. The journalists’ professional level leaves much to be desired. Professionalism of some journalists is very high and they will always rise to the occasion.
Authorities’ attitude towards journalism is incorrect. “Authorities must use information, but instead they try to ban it, like in Soviet times,” Shikhly added.