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OSCE calls on Azerbaijani authorities to release editor of Talysh newspaper and other journalists convicted yesterday

OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, called on the Azerbaijani authorities to stop harassing journalists after the 5 years’ sentence of imprisonment of the editor of the "Tolyshi sado" newspaper Hilal Mamedov, reports Azerbaijani news agency "Turan".


“I visited Mamedov and other imprisoned journalists and raised their cases with authorities during my official visit to Baku in November 2012,” she said.


Dunja Mijatović said that the hostile environment for free media in Azerbaijan has not improved but is rather growing, as yet another journalist has received a lengthy prison sentence. “I call on authorities to drop all criminal charges brought against Mamedov and other imprisoned journalists and set them free,” she said.


"Mamedov, the chief editor of the Tolishi Sado newspaper, received a 5-year prison sentence on 27 September on charges of drug possession, high treason and incitement of hatred, Turan reminds.


Mijatović also raised concern about the recent arrests of Parviz Hashimli, a journalist with Bizim Yol newspaper, and Sardar Alibeyli, editor-in-chief of the newspaper P.S. Nota.


“I am deeply worried about the negative developments around independent media, especially in the run-up to the presidential election,” Mijatović said.


Hilal Mamedov, editor in chief of the only Talysh newspaper "Tolyshi sado" in Azerbaijan, was arrested by the Azerbaijani police on June 21, 2012. He was charged in drug possession; later on the Azerbaijani MNS has accused him of treason and espionage. On 27 September 2013, the Azerbaijani court found him guilty and sentenced him to 5 years imprisonment. Among other things, Mr. Mamedov is known by the popular online video, "Who are you? Common, goodbye!" In summer 2012 three protests were held in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Moscow demanding to stop the ethnocide and to release Hilal Mamedov.


Human rights organizations, such as the "Reporters without Borders", protested the arrest of Mammadov and demanded his release. The report of the "Reporters without Borders" says that Hilal Mamedov kept in squalid conditions since his arrest in June of this year on the basis of trumped-up charges. This case, as the organization notes is very similar to the case of Novruzali Mammadov, the predecessor of Hilal Mamedov, who was the editor of "Tolyshi sado."


The previous editor of "Tolyshi sado", Professor Novruzali Mamedov, was arrested by the Azerbaijani special services in 2008. He was also accused of espionage, and died in Azerbaijani prison in the summer of 2009, because of being refused in medical care, emphasize the "Reporters without Borders". Two sons of Mammadov, who were under pressure of the Azerbaijani authorities also died; one of them had a car accident, and the second was beaten every time as he took a parcel to his father.


The Talysh are an indigenous people of that region, a settlement area which covers the southern and northern regions of Azerbaijan province of Iran. The Talysh in Azerbaijan are subjected to harassment on ethnic grounds. According to official data their number in Azerbaijan reaches to 112 thousands, but the Talysh believe that the official data are manyfold underestimated.



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