Azerbaijani journalist Idrak Abbasov hospitalized after violent attack

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

His Excellency Farid Shafiyev
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Canada
275 Slater Street, Suite 904
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H9

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE condemns the increasing violence against journalists in Azerbaijan, and in particular, the recent attack on reporter Idrak Abbasov.

On April 18, 2012, celebrated investigative journalist Abbasov was assaulted while covering a protest in Baku by local residents against state-run energy company SOCAR demolishing their homes. The assailants were security officers employed by the oil firm, and Abbasov was hospitalized after the officers stole his camera, knocked him to the ground, and beat him.

This is only one example of a recent wave of affronts against Azerbaijani journalists. Gunay Musayeva, Esmira Javadova, Elnur Mammadov and Qalib Hasanov were assaulted the same day. With the Eurovision song contest coming to Baku this May, the country will encounter an influx of foreign journalists in addition to its domestic press. Their safety as well as that of local Azerbaijani journalists must be ensured.

CJFE demands the Azerbaijani government pursue a thorough and transparent investigation into the vicious attacks on Idrak Abbasov, and that the right of all citizens to free expression be protected.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President