“When I am hit below the belt, it is difficult to think of ethics. I have developed my own code and this is not the code of a journalist, this is a code of guerilla war. We are not a media outlet. We are guerrillas,” said Elmar Huseynov in one of his last interviews to the BBC. Two years passed since the murder of Elmar Huseynov, Monitor Magazine Chief Editor, who was shot to death in the hallway outside his apartment; but the case remain unsolved and his murderers are still at large. (03-MAR-07)
Written by Shahla Ismailova, HRH Baku on the basis of materials from Turan Information Agency, BBC, Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety, Yeni Musavat Newspaper, Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper; photos by Turan Information Agency, IRFS, Shahla Ismailova
The lack of progress in investigation causes concern and disappoint among the national and international organizations and citizens. For example, Reporters Without Borders said “It is intolerable that two years after the murder of the opposition journalist, his killers are still at large. The press in Azerbaijan is going through difficult times and the persistent impunity in this case is helping to stoke up a climate of permanent harassment of the opposition press.”
On 2 March 2005, an outspoken critic of the government and opposition, the 38-year-old Elmar Huseynov, who had been leading the Monitor Weekly since 1995, was murdered in the stairwell of his apartment building after returning home from work.
A harsh critic of President Aliyev and his administration, Huseynov had endured scores of politicized lawsuits, tax inspections, and suspensions during his publication’s six-year existence. The Monitor closed down after his murder.
The case remains one of the most-discussed political issues in the country, though the President Ilham Aliyev, who called the murder a “provocation of the state” and an “act of terrorism”, promised to find the murderer within 40 days. Despite these statements, the investigation has gone nowhere.
Honoring Elmar Huseynov’s Memory
The representatives of the press, NGOs, opposition political parties and diplomatic missions honored the memory of Elmar Huseynov at the special round table, devoted to the second anniversary of his murder. Representatives of the authorities, as well as state, public and pro-governmental television channels and mass media did not take part in the session.
The action started with a one minute moment of silence in memory of the murdered journalist. Isa Gambar (on the right), Musavat Party’s chairman, imposed responsibility for the murder on the government and added that attacks and the harassment of journalists continues today, two years after the murder. “Our civil duty is to bring the murderers to responsibility and protect freedom of speech,” said Gambar, and added that Ilham Aliyev is responsible for failure to solve the crime.
U.S. Ambassador Anne Derse (on the right) said that two years after Elmar’s murder those to blame for the crime have not been arrested or punished. She recalled that on 18 December 2006, during visit of Elmar Huseynov’s grave, Barry Lowencron, U.S. Deputy State Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights, said that attacks on such journalists as Elmar Huseynov must be interpreted as attacks on democracy and urged authorities to bring to responsibility those to blame for Elmar Huseynov╢s murder.
Lala Shovket, leader of the National Unity Movement, called Elmar a “happy” person, because he turned himself into the symbol of Freedom of Speech. “Authorities wanted to prove that it is impossible to live freely and worthily in Azerbaijan, but we have proved that this is possible,” added Shovket.
Denis Bribosia (on the right), special representative of the Council of Europe’s Secretary-General in Azerbaijan, expressed CE’s position. “The Council of Europe insists on the triumph of justice. Journalists must not die, because they are a special part of society.”
Dozens of journalists, civil society and political leaders, and citizens honored the memory of journalist Elmar Huseynov on Friday night in a candlelit ceremony. They came to the entrance of the house, where the Monitor magazine’s editor-in-chief lived, and observed a minute of silence.
After this, Huseynov’s wife, Rushana Huseynova, who was forced to immigrate to Norway, thanked participants of the action by phone. She expressed regret that she was forced to leave the country and cannot visit Elmar’s grave on this day. She urged participants to continue their struggle for freedom of speech and democracy in Azerbaijan.
At 9.20 p.m. participants of the action went up the candlelit stairwell between the second and third floors and laid flowers on the place where E. Huseynov was murdered two years ago.