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Azerbaijan12 June 2006

Opposition demonstrators arrested for demanding justice for Bahaddin Khaziyev

Police arrested a score of activists belonging to the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party on 9 June 2006 as they took part in a new protest demonstration against the abduction and vicious beating suffered by journalist Bahaddin Khaziyev. They were released a few hours later. A group of journalists had rallied in central Baku on 30 May to protest against the brutality.

In response to national and international pressure, the interior ministry announced on 23 May that a criminal investigation would be opened into the attack on Khaziyev, editor of the opposition daily Bizim Yol, who was abducted, beaten and left for dead on the road on 19 May.

19 May 2006

Another opposition journalist nearly killed in violent attack

The abduction and severe beating last night of Bahaddin Khaziyev, the editor of the daily Bizim Yol, was the second apparent murder attempt against an opposition journalist in the past three months, Reporters Without Borders said today.

“The same exceptionally violent methods were used,” the press freedom organisation said. “Both journalists were kidnapped by an unidentified band of thugs, beaten unconscious and left for dead. Who are these thugs? Are they isolated criminal gangs? Who are they working for? Why do the authorities never succeed in identifying those responsible for these barbarous actions? The government must get on top of this and show that it is really determined to solve these cases and put an end to this kind of violence against journalists.”

Khaziyev was driving in his car at around midnight last night when he found his way blocked by two black, Russian-made Zhiguli cars. Reporters Without Borders has learned that five men in sports attire forced him to get out of his car, put a bag over his head and drove off with him.

His abductors then beat him, told to stop writing critical articles, and finally dumped him beside a lake 20 km outside Baku at around 3 a.m., driving over his legs as they left. Local residents found him unconscious shortly before dawn and called the police and emergency services, which rushed him to hospital.

Khaziyev has multiple fractures to the left leg and contusions all over his body. His hands bear the marks of where he was bound. One of his legs was dislocated when the car drove over him. A doctor at the hospital described his condition as very serious.

Khaziyev said he did not know his assailants but he overheard one of them saying: “We have done what you wanted and even more.” He said he assumed that persons criticised in his articles were behind the attack. The latest issue of Bizim Yol (which appears five times a week) focused on illegal trafficking in black caviar and alleged corruption by Ali Nagiyev, a senior official in the national security ministry (the former KGB).

The local police said they are investigating. Ali Kerimli, the leader of the opposition Party of the Azerbaijani Popular Front (PPFA), described it as “an act of terror at the state level” and held the authorities responsible.

Meanwhile, the authorities have yet to announce any progress in their investigation into the nearly fatal attack on 5 March on Fikret Huseynli of the opposition daily Azadlig. Those responsible for the fatal shooting for Elmar Husseynov on 2 March 2005 have never been identified.

  In this country
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Court breaks law by refusing to release journalist on health grounds
9 April - Azerbaijan
Mirza Sakit Zahidov finally released
2 March - Azerbaijan
Four years after editor’s murder, investigators have achieved nothing
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Azerbaijan - 2006 Annual report

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