Award-Winning Azerbaijani Journalist Beaten, Hospitalized
The brutal beating of award-winning Azerbaijani journalist, Idrak Abbasov, by the security services of state-owned company, SOCAR, is an unacceptable attack on press freedom in Azerbaijan and should be properly investigated and prosecuted. Abbasov was attacked while filming SOCAR employees demolishing houses in Sulutapa, outside of Baku. According to his brother, when Idrak was observed filming the demolition, security people “seized his camera, knocked him down and started beating him up.” He also reports that his brother remains unconscious, in serious condition. Idrak Abbasov is a reporter for Zerkalo newspaper and one of the founders of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan. In March he was awarded by the Index on Censorship campaign group for his work in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free by both Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2011. Authorities frequently imprison journalists and bloggers who write critically of the government. In March, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Khadija Ismailova received a letter threating to ‘defame’ her unless she ‘behaved,’ and in September of 2011, members of Idrak Abbasov’s family were beaten and had their house destroyed. This attack is just another reminder of the dire and hostile environment for journalists in Azerbaijan.
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