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Azerbaijan11 October 2005

President Aliev urged to stem wave of attacks on journalists

Reporters Without Borders called today on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev to take immediate steps to protect journalists after a wave of violence against the media in the run-up to parliamentary elections on 6 November.

Fourteen journalists were beaten up by police on 9 October during a banned demonstration by the Azadlig opposition grouping in Baku. Two were seriously hurt and rushed to hospital.

“The situation is rapidly deteriorating,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Six journalists have been physically attacked in the past six months and another died as a result of his injuries.” President Aliev told a Reporters Without Borders delegation on 8 April that he deplored attacks by government agents on journalists.

Baton-wielding police attacked the 9 October demonstrators (400 according to police but more than 1,000 according to the protesters) and several were trampled and others beaten over the head or kicked.

Editor Ramiz Nadjafli, of the weekly Boz Gurd, was beaten unconscious and taken to hospital with head injuries, as was Idrak Abbasov, correspondent of the daily Ayna-Zerkalo, who was hit on the head with a baseball bat by group of people headed by police officer in civilian clothes. Policemen did not allow anybody to help the beaten journalist and to take pictures of him untill he lost consciousness. Abbassov was wearing the blue jacket distributed by the national press council to protect journalists reporting on violent scenes. A policeman was posted in front of the hospital and did not allow other journalists to enter.

Twelve other journalists were attacked during the demonstration:
-  Elbrus Seyfullayev, Azer-Press news agency
-  Mahabbat Orudjev, Tofik Yagublu ,Afghan Mukhtarov and Mustafa Hajili, the daily Yeni Musavat
-  Rasul Mirhashimli, Uch Nogta news agency
-  Orkhan Aslanov, ANS TV
-  Anar Shukurov, Leader TV
-  Elman Maliyev, the daily Express and member of the press monitoring council.
-  Sarvan Rizvanov, Turan news agency and member of the press monitoring council
-  Ibrahim Mamedov, head of the press monitoring council
-  Nabi Alishev, correspondent of Baki Khabar daily

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