Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Azerbaijan24 November 2006

Imprisoned journalist joins independent media hunger-strikers

Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its support for a two-week-old hunger strike by a group of journalists and press freedom activists after imprisoned journalist Sakit Zahidov, who received a three-year sentence last month, announced yesterday he was joining the protest against government threats to the independent media.

“The hunger strike is drastic method of protest that shows how difficult the situation has become for Azerbaijan’s independent media,” the press freedom organisation said. “We are worried about the state of health of several of the hunger strikers, including Sakit Zahidov’s brother Ganimat, the editor of the opposition daily Azadlig, who was adamant in his refusal when asked to stop by the Union of Journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We extend out support to the hunger strikers and the independent media, and we call on the Azeri government to put an end to the harassment that forced this protest on them.”

The hunger strikers include representatives of the newspapers Azadlig, Milli Yol, Yeni Musavat, Bizin Yol, Novoye Vremya and 24 Saat, the magazine Ganun and the news agency Turan. Protests by journalists and opponents of President Ilham Aliev have swelled in recent weeks after a series of press freedom violations.

The hunger strike was prompted by a government decision to evict Azadlig (which is the leading opposition newspaper), the independent television station ANS TV and Turan from their premises. The protesters say they are fighting for “Elmar Husseynov’s dream of liberty and democracy.” The editor of the opposition weekly Monitor, Husseynov was gunned down in Baku on 2 March 2005.

Arrested on 23 June, writer and journalist Sakit Zahidov was sentenced on 4 October, at the end of a chaotic trial, to three years in prison for “possession of drugs for personal consumption.” Zahidov has always insisted that the police planted the heroin they claimed to have found in his clothes. A court is due to begin hearing his appeal on 1 December.

  In this country
28 May - Azerbaijan
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
6 February - Azerbaijan
Court rejects early release for jailed newspaper reporter
22 January - Azerbaijan
Four journalists threatened and expelled from Nakhchivan for trying to investigate disappearance of mother and son

in the annual report
Azerbaijan - Annual Report 2008
Azerbaijan - Annual report 2007
Azerbaijan - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison

Sign the petitions
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives