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Azerbaijan27 September 2005

Police set on four journalists covering an opposition demonstration in Baku

Reporters Without Borders urged interior minister Ramil Usubov to do his utmost to protect journalists in the run-up to legislative elections after police set on four journalists at a banned opposition demonstration on 25 September 2005.

The journalists, Mahabbat Orujev, Rei Kerimoglu, Sakit Mamedov and Zohrab Zeynalov, were covering a rally called by opposition group Azadlig to demand free and fair elections on 6 November.

Police seized a camera from Orujev, reporter on the daily Yeni Musavat, who had shown his press card. Police also broke a camera being used by a colleague on the same daily, Rei Kerimoglu, although he was wearing a blue jacket handed out to journalists by the Press Council to protect them from attack.

Reporter on the weekly Avropa, Sakit Mamedov, was beaten by police despite holding up his press card. Photographer with the Azer-Press agency, Zohrab Zeynalov, was beaten while he attempted to take pictures of police officers who were charging at demonstrators, about one hundred of whom were arrested, organisers said.

“This violence demonstrates yet again the climate of insecurity that has taken hold in Azerbaijan in the run-up to legislative elections, particularly for journalists. Obtaining news and information has become more and more difficult and they cannot work without taking real risks” said Reporters Without Borders, as it made its appeal to the information minister.

On 21 May, Farid Teymurkhanli of the daily Zerkalo, was clubbed over the head by security forces while he was covering an opposition demonstration in Baku and wearing a press armband.

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