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Azerbaijan31 August 2005

Journalist’s brother abducted and beaten up

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock after masked men seized the brother of an opposition daily journalist from a city centre and took him to a suburb where they beat him and threw him into a canal.

Ramin Rzayev, brother of journalist on Azadlig, Mohammed Rzayev, was abducted on the evening of 30 August in the centre of Nakhitchevan in south-west Azerbaijan.

His assailants told him to tell his brother not to stand in November 2005 legislative elections and to stop writing articles critical of the local authorities. They threatened that the next time Mohammed Rzayev would get the same treatment as his brother.

Ramin Rzayev, who was left suffering bad headaches, went to hospital for treatment.

"It is outrageous that people should attack a journalist’s brother to put pressure on him," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "We abhor this cowardly behaviour and urge international organisations to act to counter these violations of free expression that are becoming more and more common in Azerbaijan."

Less than a month ago, privately-owned media, including Azadlig, were threatened and suffered brutal attacks. "This impunity must end," said Reporters Without Borders.

Mohammed Rzayev himself has suffered frequent harassment from the authorities in response to critical articles. Police beat him up in 2003.

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