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Azerbaijan23 May 2005

Open letter to the President

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Dear Mr President,

At our meeting on 8 April this year, you stressed that it was "unacceptable for government officials to attack journalists" and that you wished in future to "establish the rule of law" in Azerbaijan.

I must tell you of my surprise and deep concern therefore at an assault by the security forces on Farid Teymurkhanli of the daily Zerkalo while he was covering a demonstration in Baku on Saturday 21 May. The fact that the gathering had not been officially authorised should not in any way excuse the use of violence by the police against a journalist who was only doing his job.

Several police officers clubbed him on the head in Rashid Beybudov Street and continued beating him after he had lost consciousness. I would like to point out that the journalist could not have been confused with a demonstrator because he was wearing an armband with the word press emblazoned on it.

I am therefore convinced that you will be prepared to respond to my request for those responsible for the attack on Farid Teymurkhanli to be quickly punished and that journalists should receive better protection so that this kind of incident is not repeated.

I would appreciate it if you would keep me informed of the progress in this case.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Ménard Secretary General

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