IFJ Accuses Government of Stifling Dissent in Post-Election Azerbaijan

The International Federation of Journalists today accused the Azerbaijan authorities of conducting a campaign to intimidate and silence the opposition press following the Presidential elections on 15 October.

The accusations are contained in a report issued following an IFJ mission to the country from 05 - 07 November.

“The extensive list of actions that have taken place against the opposition media provide a compelling case against the authorities,” said the IFJ in its report. The report concluded that the actions are “politically driven and part of an attempt to quell dissent in the aftermath of the elections.”

President Ilham Aliyev, son of former president Heydar Aliev, was elected amid allegations of vote rigging and fraud. Demonstrations were held to protest against the results on the 15/16 October during which 54 journalists were injured and a further 16 arrested. Rauf Arifoglu, Editor-in-chief of the Yeni Musavat, and Deputy chairman of the Musavat political party is under arrest for inciting public disorder and faces a possible 12 years in prison if convicted.

Since then the opposition papers have been excluded from the state printing press. Meanwhile paper prices at the private press have doubled and paper supplies, controlled by a government monopoly, are under threat.

The IFJ makes the following demands

  • Release Rauf Arifoglu, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper, the Yeni Musavat;
  • Establishment of an independent commission into the attacks against journalists during demonstrations following the election;
  • End of the exclusion of opposition press from the state printing house;
  • Repeal the defamation laws, including the law on ‘Insult of the President’.

    A full copy of the report can be downloaded from IFJ Azerbaijan Report Nov 2003+Annexes to Report

    Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
    The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries