Comments 10:55 12/08/2015

International HR defenders question official version of Azerbaijani journalist’s murder

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, issued a statement  concerning the Azerbaijani journalist Rasim Aliyev’s murder.

“I am shocked by the murder of Rasim Aliyev, Chairman of the Institute for Reporters Safety and Freedom. It is a very worrying sign that the safety of journalists in the country is deteriorating further. I call on the Azerbaijani authorities to fully and promptly investigate this murder and to bring the perpetrators to justice. This tragic event should serve as a last reminder to the authorities and society as whole that the country cannot continue like this: all must re-engage, and all must be done, to restore internal dialogue and trust between civil society and the authorities,” Jagland said.

Reporters Without Borders  urged the Azerbaijani authorities to shed all possible light on freelance journalist Rasim Aliyev’s murder. “Aliyev’s murder is the product of a culture of intolerance and impunity that the most senior officials have been fomenting for years,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “When government officials publicly identify outspoken journalists as enemies and as traitors, when physical attacks on journalists consistently go unpunished, we cannot be surprised that tragedies like this occur.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, in its turn, called on authorities in Azerbaijan to conduct an efficient and transparent investigation into the attack on Rasim Aliyev. "We condemn the killing of Rasim Aliyev and urge authorities to probe the fatal attack in the most thorough and transparent way," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "The administration of President Ilham Aliyev must stop the repression of journalists and human rights activists.”

In a statement  released to condemn the journalist’s murder and signed by 11 human rights groups, Sport for Rights coalition called for the international community “to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its human rights obligations and promote much-needed reforms in the country.”

Tatyana Kryuchkina from the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), of which Rasim Aliyev was a member, told the information agency Caucasian Knot that she does not exclude the existence of other motives for beating the journalist, besides the “footballer’s revenge.” ”The pro-government propaganda forms the opinion about the version of the ‘footballer’s revenge.’ Moreover, Rasim is consistently being presented as a sport journalist. This is absolutely wrong. Rasim was a reporter covering social and political topics,” she stressed and reminded that Rasim Aliyev was elected IRFS chairman in October 2014.

“On 25 July, Rasim received threats on the social network ‘Odnoklassniki’ connected with his work in IRFS. Interestingly, they were general threats rather than concrete claims. They reminded him of a photo taken during demonstrations, authorized at that, and told him that he ‘puts his nose in where it’s not wanted.’ When Rasim asked what they would do with him for that, they said, ‘You’ll see.’ It is difficult to say whether those threats are connected with the attack on Rasim,” Kryuchkina said.

Natalia Nozadze, Azerbaijan Researcher at Amnesty International , made the following comment on the incident, “For too long, Azerbaijan’s journalists have been subjected to persecution and horrific attacks such as this one. Their killings frequently go without the culprits being prosecuted and brought to justice, despite the cynical assurances of impartial investigations.” The organization reminds that in 2005, Ilham Aliyev also promised to “personally oversee” the investigation into the killing of journalist Elmar Huseynov, but the case remains unsolved.

“The Azerbaijani authorities claim that the media and journalists work in a safe environment. However, the death of Rasim Aliyev after beating testifies that the authorities’ statements are nothing more than words," said the director of Turan, Mehman Aliyev. Publicist Khalig Bahadir stressed that in any case, it is a crime of the regime. “We must fight so that the perpetrators and those who ordered the murder of Elmar Huseynov, Rafiq Tagi, Rasim Aliyevbe be punished," he said.

“The climate of impunity for violent acts against journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan may encourage some individuals to commit such grave crimes without being punished. Journalists, like every citizen, in Azerbaijan must be free to share their personal comments on social networks without fear of receiving threats from anybody,” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, EFJ President, in a joint statement issued by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

Another statement was made by International Media Support (IMS) . The climate of impunity – which allows attacks on journalists in Azerbaijan to remain unpunished – is contributing to the ongoing repression of free expression. Over the last decade, there have been more than 300 attacks against journalists in Azerbaijan. Over the last 12 months, seven journalists and five human rights activists have been arrested and the list of cases of harassment of media and human rights specialists is long, IMS highlights.
“The authorities must end the unacceptable impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Azerbaijan. The untimely death of Rasim Aliyev is a stark reminder of Azerbaijan’s detrimental freedom of expression record and the need to create a mechanism for protecting journalists and human rights defenders,” IMS said.

The Azerbaijani party Musavat also issued a statement regarding Rasim Aliyev’s beating and murder, Turan agency reports. The party said the case clearly showcases the climate of intolerance towards the free speech created in the society. The absence of fair jurisdiction in the country is yet another reason for such an outcome. Musavat believes the authorities in Azerbaijan are responsible for Rasim Aliyev’s death, and demands a strict punishment for the perpetrators.

Turan further reports that the reporters covering the journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s trial on 10 August 2015 in Baku Court of Grave Crimes commemorated their colleague Rasim Aliyev in a minute of silence. During the impromptu protest, the journalists demanded to reveal and strictly punish the murderers, while expressing their doubt that it will be done.

In a status posted on Facebook, former diplomat, head of Azerbaijani delegation in the EU, permanent representative in the CoE, Arif Mammadov, called on the citizens of the country put on white clothes and go on a “White March” against the lawlessness in the country. “Representatives from all the media, opposition parties and intelligentsia, anyone who loves their country, must go on a silent protest march,” he wrote. notes that Rasim Aliyev’s murder gave rise to sharp feedback in the social media. “The most important part is the danger of going from fidelity to principles and sharpness to cowardice,” the news portal points highlighting that the case will lead to the degradation of journalism in Azerbaijan.

According to, Rasim Aliyev’s mother, Seyfura Aliyeva, told the newspaper Yeni Musavat that the footballer Javid Huseynov himself sent the people who killed his son to a meeting with him. “Rasim told me Javid had called him and said that the people who swore at him on phone would come and apologize,” she said and highlighted that the footballer knows the people who beat his son. “They lied to him. Javid himself lied to him. My son got many calls on that day. One of them introduced himself as Vusal. Javid’s cousin also called him. Javid sent them all. Going out, my son also took money as they allegedly called him to a cup of tea,” Aliyeva told the newspaper. “There were six of them. They took his wallet and his son’s mobile phone.” points that the journalist and the footballer’s parents studied in the same class. The footballer’s father, Shakir Abbasov, and Rasim Aliyev’s mother went to the same school and studied in the same class.

On 8 August 2015, a journalist from, Rasim Aliyev, was brutally beaten in Azerbaijan. Numerous injuries led to his death in clinical center on 9 August. The reason for the attack on the journalist was his criticism on Facebook of Javid Huseynov, a player from the Azerbaijani football club Gabala. Javid Huseynov’s cousin, Elshan Huseynov, is arrested in connection with the case.
Rasim Aliyev became the third journalist murdered in Azerbaijan over the past 10 years. In March 2005, Elmar Huseynov, the editor of the Azerbaijani opposition magazine Monitor, was killed at the entrance to his home. In November 2011, the columnist journalist Rafig Tagi died in hospital a few days after being stubbed. Despite the authorities’ public promises, the murders remain undiscovered so far.

Opposition journalist beaten to death in Azerbaijan by footballer’s relatives for criticism on Facebook 

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