Reporters without Borders appeals to President of France to raise issue of human rights violations in Azerbaijan

October 28, 2014 / Panorama am

Secretary General of the international human rights organization “Reporters without Borders” Christophe Deloire wrote an open letter to the head of the French government calling to raise the issue of human rights violations in the country, the release of imprisoned journalists and bloggers, as well as to remind the Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev of his commitments on human rights. The letter was published on the website of the organization.

“Reporters without borders” would like to draw your attention at the elimination of pluralism in the Azerbaijani media. In the Press Freedom Index 2014 Azerbaijan ranks 160th out of 180 countries. Thanks to a biased regulatory agency, self-censorship and manipulation of the advertising market, the government has complete control of the broadcast media,” the statement reads.

As the General Secretary of the Reporters Without Borders reports the government has complete control of the broadcast media in Azerbaijan. The independent newspapers struggle to survive. One of them is Azadlig which is being throttled by astronomical damages and is now close to collapse. The newspaper Zerkalo, was forced to stop producing a print edition in May.

With no fewer than 13 journalist and bloggers unjustly detained. The state of health of some of them, such as Khural editor in chief Avaz Zeynalli, is worrying. According to the article outspoken journalists, citizen-journalists and bloggers are subjected to all sorts of intimidation including threats, physical attacks, blackmail and smear campaigns. These threats have forced many independent journalists to flee Azerbaijan but the regime’s persecution now extends beyond its borders. Rauf Mirkadyrov, a well-known reporter and columnist based in Turkey, was extradited back to Azerbaijan on 18 April and was immediately jailed on a trumped-up charge of spying for Armenia.
This past summer, the regime also began cracking down on NGOs that support news media and defend freedom of information – NGOs such as Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, Media Rights Institute and IREX. It has frozen bank accounts, raided their offices and forced their representatives into exile or silence. Most have had no choice but to suspend operations.

“Regardless of the economic and strategic advantages of a relationship between France and Azerbaijan, a frank dialogue between partners must not ignore freedom of information,” said Christophe Delord, stressing that the abolition of media pluralism largely complicates the legality and the fight against corruption in Azerbaijan, without which Baku cannot be considered a reliable partner.

Therefore, we ask you to put this issue in front of your Azerbaijani counterpart during a visit to Paris and ask for the release of imprisoned journalists and bloggers. We also urge you to make clear to President Aliyev that his government’s violations of freedom of information is incompatible with the close relationship of Paris and Baku, as well as with Azerbaijan’s chairmanship at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,” the statement reads.



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