25 novembre 2011
IFJ Calls for Swift Action to Bring to Book Killers of Prominent Journalist in Azerbaijan
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
today urged the authorities in Azerbaijan to leave no stone unturned in the
hunt for the killers of Rafiq Tagi, a prominent Azerbaijan journalist who died
on Wednesday, four days after he was stabbed by unidentified attackers in the
"We condemn this appalling attack and urge the authorities to make sure the killers of Tagi and those who ordered his murder face justice," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "Nothing short of a swift investigation and a successful prosecution in this case will improve the poor record of Azerbaijan on the safety of journalists."
Media reports say that Tagi, a critic of Azebaijan and Iranian governments, was attacked and stabbed several times last Saturday in Baku. He underwent surgery and, although his condition was considered stable, died in the early hours of Wednesday.
The police launched an investigation into this attack which many journalists and observers of Azerbaijan politics believe was linked to criticism of his and the Iranian governments. The journalist told Radio Free Europe on 21 November that the attack might have been linked to an article he had published earlier this month which was critical of the Iranian government and "ridiculed Tehran's threats against Azerbaijan", but Teheran's envoy in Azerbaijan denied any involvement in Tagi's murder, according to the radio station.
The journalist courted controversy five years ago when he published an article attacking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. He was sentenced to a three year jail term in 2007 but later received Presidential pardon, media reports say. The article also angered Iranian Cleric Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani who issued a fatwa on Tagi, calling for his death.
The IFJ says the killing of Tagi has raised concerns over forces at work to silence criticism and alternative voices in Azerbaijan, citing the murder of Elmar Huseynov, another leading journalist who was killed in March 2005. His case remains unresolved and no one has been arrested for his killing.
"This has all the hallmarks of a campaign to suppress dissent, however genuine, in Azerbaijan," added Boumelha. "The failure to punish Huseynov's killers has set a bad precedent and the Tagi's case is likely to reinforce the climate of impunity if it suffers the same fate."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries