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Azerbaijan16 October 2003

Presidential election : many journalists beaten or detained

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the incidents that marred yesterday’s presidential election - won by Ilham Aliev, the son of outgoing President Heidar Aliev - and today’s opposition demonstration. Many journalists were beaten by police, detained or insulted.

"We are very alarmed by the surge of violence against journalists and we remind you that free press coverage of an election is one of the criteria considered by the international community before recognising its legitimacy," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to interior minister Ramil Usubov.

According to information gathered by Reporters Without Borders, at least 25 local and foreign journalists were badly beaten by the security forces during today’s opposition demonstration in Baku. Several had to be hospitalised.

They included Zafar Guliyev of the news agency TURAN, who was injured in the head; Emin Huseynov of TURAN, hospitalised with concussion; Ilkin Guliyev of TURAN; Fuad Hasanguliyev of Interfax-Azerbaijan, hospitalised with head injuries; Sabina Iskenderli of Interfax-Azerbaijan; Agil Jamal of Azadlig; Hayal Babayev of Azadlig; Azer Hasrat, the general secretary of the federation of journalists; Shirhan Agayev of Prognoz; Sarkarda Sarkhanoglu of Hurriyet; Nabi Alishov of Hurriyet, hospitalised with head injuries; Adil Huseynov of Hurriyet, hospitalised with head injuries and Tahir Aliyaroglu of Hurriyet, hospitalised with head injuries.

They also included Tebriz Sadayoglu of Hurriyet; Nidjat Daglar of Baki Habar, hospitalised in a serious condition; Kenul Veliyeva of Baki Habar; Metanet Muslimgizi of Baki Habar; Vasim Mamedov of Baki Habar, hospitalised with head injuries; Eynulla Umudov of Galanjak Gun; Etibar Savalan of Galanjak Gun; Elza Abishova of Cumhuriyyet, hospitalised; Mansura Sattarova of Cumhurriyet; Lala Musa Gizi of Cumhurriyet; Afgan Gafarov of Cumhurriyet and Kenan Rovshanoglu of Cumhurriyet. Azer Garachenli, a correspondent with Avropa, was arrested by the police.

At least 15 journalists were prevented from covering the elections in normal manner yesterday and a total of six journalists were beaten. Elnur Sadikhov, a correspondent with Azadlig in Ganja (in the north), was beaten by police and barred from a polling station. Kenul Salimgizi, Safar Humbatov, Murshud Hasanov and Salim Azizoglu, correspondents with Yeni Musavat, were manhandled at polling station No. 25 in Baku. Fahraddin Hajibeyli of Radio Free Europe, was beaten by employees of the polling station at Agdam (350 kms from Baku).

Two journalists were detained as they were covering the polling: Parviz Hashimov, a correspondent with Uch Nogta, held for three hours in Ganja, and Mushfig Mamedli, a correspondent with Baki Habar, detained by police in Baku.

Three journalists were denied access to polling stations: Firudin Guliyev, a correspondent with Garbin Sesi, who was barred by police from entering the polling station at Shemakha (120 kms from Baku); Vidadi Bayramov, a correspondent with Hurriyet, who was insulted and refused entry to the polling station at Salyan (140 kms from Baku) and Abbasali Rustamli of Azadelig, who was turned away from the Sabail polling station in Baku.

Seven journalists were insulted by the staff in charge in different polling stations: Aslan Abdullayev, correspondent with Molla Nasreddin, was insulted by the president of the polling station at Ujar (200 kms from Baku); Matanat Aliyeva, a correspondent with Impuls, was insulted in the Nasimi polling station No. 22 in Baku; Eynulla Garayev, a correspondent with Fedai, was insulted at the Ujar polling station; freelance journalist Medina Aliyev was insulted at polling station No. 38 in Baku; Tahir Pasha, the director of the Association of Military Journalists, and Yeni Musavat correspondents Mubariz Jafarli and Mahir Mamedli were insulted at the Sabail polling station No. 15 in Baku.

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