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Azerbaijan May 31, 2011
H.E. Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President
19 Istiqaliyyat Street
Baku AZ 1066
Republic of Azerbaijan
Fax: (011.994.12) 98.33.28/ 92.28.68
The Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) is deeply concerned about new facts that have emerged surrounding the unsolved murder of journalist, Elmar Huseynov, the former editor-in-chief of Monitor magazine.
It has been six years since Huseynov’s murder. Recent national Azerbaijani media reports strongly suggest that government agencies are seeking to withhold information regarding the persons involved in the killing. Should the evidence point to Georgian citizens — Tahirhubanov, Teymuraz Aliyev and their alleged accomplices — then the OPC expects your government will take immediate action by seeking to prosecute these individuals.
We note that in collaboration with the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has issued a statement entitled: “Elmar Huseynov: A Symbol of the Current Danger and a Sign of What is to Come?” The statement underscores that the murder of journalist, Huseynov, in 2005 was emblematic of both the cycle of violence and the broader decline of free expression in Azerbaijan. As a result of the authorities’ failure to bring Huseynov’s murderers to justice, many of our Azerbaijani colleagues believe that criminals are free to harass and target independent reporting within the country.
Their concern is well founded. In October 2010, RSF undertook a mission to Azerbaijan and produced a second report entitled: “Azerbaijan: Freedom of Expression Under Attack.” The report highlighted the government’s failure to comply with its international commitments to promote and protect freedom of expression.
We remind you, for example, that the newspaper editor, Eynulla Fatullayev, remains jailed after more than four years on charges of slander related to his reporting on your government’s policies. The recipient of Amnesty International’s “Special Award for Journalism Under Threat” in 2009, his continued incarceration can only be considered confirmation of hostility to a free press at the highest levels in Azerbijan — a hostility that many feel created the atmosphere that led to Elmar Huseynov’s murder.
The abduction, incarceration and physical abuse of Azerbaijani journalists like Elmar Huseynov and Eynulla Fatullayev in retaliation for their critical reporting is of a piece with the recent wave of arrests in connection with a pro-democracy protests and the forced closure of several non-governmental human rights organizations. To state the obvious, Your Excellency, a government’s unwillingness to promote democracy and human rights is the antithesis of a modern state…a status to which we assume your government aspires.
Freedom of the Press Committee
H.E. Artur Rasizade
Office of the Prime Minister
63 Lermontov kuc.
Republic of Azerbaijan
Fax: (011.994.12) 98.97.86
H.E. Yashar Aliyev
Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Azerbaijani Republic
2741 34th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20038
Fax: (202) 337.5911
Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev
Permanent Mission of the Azerbaijani Republic to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 560
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 371.2784/2672
27/121 S. Mustafayev Street
Fax: (011.994.12) 566.2520
H.E. Matthew J. Bryza
U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Embassy of the United States of America
83 Azadlig Prospect
Baku, AZ 1007
Fax: (011.994.12) 465.6671
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520