May 21, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in a letter addressed to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev called to release all currently jailed journalists.
On behalf of the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) we write to you to express our deep concern at the number of journalists reportedly currently in prison in Azerbaijan.
According to our records there are currently at least seven journalists in jail either falsely convicted or awaiting trial on spurious charges ranging from fraud and tax evasion to hooliganism or espionage.
The journalists include:
1) Nijat Aliyev, arrested May 20, 2012
2) Araz Guliyev, arrested September 8, 2012
3) Parviz Hashimli, arrested September 17, 2013
4) Seymur Hazi, arrested August 29, 2014
5) Khadija Ismayilova, arrested December 5, 2014
6) Hilal Mamedov, arrested June 21, 2012
7) Rauf Mirkadyrov, arrested April 19, 2014"
All these cases have been reported on the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists which records violations of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding Freedom of Expression and information.
Their continued incarceration does great damage not only to the country’s reputation, but also to its aspirations to becoming a modern, stable democracy with international standards of human rights and respect for freedom of expression.
Four of these journalists were arrested in the past 12 months alone giving the impression that, together with the arrests of numerous high profile human rights activists and lawyers, the government is engaged in a deliberate campaign to silence critical voices before the country plays host to the European Olympics in June.
During the Baku Games the eyes of the world’s media will be on Baku and the IFJ / EFJ affiliates, who together represent over 300.000 European journalists and over 600.000 journalists worldwide, will be campaigning hard to raise awareness about the plight of their Azeri colleagues.
We therefore call on you to use your authority to seek the release of all seven journalists and, in doing so, to send a message to the hundreds of journalists due to visit your country in the coming weeks as well as to Azeri journalists that they are welcome and that their profession is fully respected in Azerbaijan.
Both organizations also launced a campaign "Hands off press freedom in Azerbaijan".