The local independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan was awarded the prestigious Freedom of Expression 2007 international prize today in a ceremony that took place in Norway. The prize, which is given by the Freedom of Expression Foundation jointly with the Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius ZEIT Foundation, includes ˆ30,000. (24-JUN-07)
Placed on website by Shahla Ismailova/HRH Baku on the basis of information from Turan, photo from Turan
Turan News Agency Director Mehman Aliyev traveled to Norway to participate in the ceremony. According to Turan, in Aliyev’s speech, he spoke about the complicated situation in the sphere of freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. At the end of his speech, Aliyev recalled the scientific theory of famous Norwegian traveler Tur Heyerdal, who said that the predecessors of Norwegians were settlers from the territory of modern Azerbaijan. Then one of Azerbaijan’s democrats Hikmet Hajizadeh said that in ancient times all the real democrats left Azerbaijan for Norway, and only supporters of authoritarianism remain in Azerbaijan. Another Azeri expert Rasim Musabekov said that there are very few democrats in Azerbaijan now, but people expect those democrats that left to come back. “We all are waiting for you!” exclaimed Mehman Aliyev. At this the audience rose to their feet and gave Aliyev a standing ovation.
In its statement, the awards committee wrote, “The extensive range of information offered by Turan provides an anti-pole to the governmentally controlled news. Work as a journalist is after all dangerous in Azerbaijan, where independent news reporting is frowned upon. In a country without democracy, Turan represents an incorruptible stronghold. Despite numerous attempts at browbeating, the agency has continued to deliver informative and investigative journalism.”