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Azerbaijan: journalist Abbasov demands investigation into attacks on his relatives and their house

Oct 25 2011, 23:10
Journalist Idrak Abbasov at the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety. September 30, 2011. Photo: www.irfs.az

In Azerbaijan, Idrak Abbasov, a journalist from the newspaper "Aina-Zerkalo" and a member of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), claims that there are no active investigatory measures take in relation to the pressure on him and his family members, after the case was transferred to the Binagadi District Prosecutor's Office. Even the local municipality is not aware about the owner of the land, where the house belonging to the Abbasov family destructed by the unidentified people is located.

Let us remind you that the journalist had addressed President Ilham Aliev asking to ensure his safety in the context of received threats. After that, Ramil Usubov, the local Interior Minister, took Mr Abbasov's application under his personal control. On October 11, the materials of the investigation, which had been conducted by MIA officers, were transferred to the Binagadi District Prosecutor's Office.

Abbasov dissatisfied with the course of investigation

"Today, I have no official information about how the inquiry goes at the Binagadi District Prosecutor's Office. I haven't addressed them; and I wait from day to day that they will inform me. It was the Binagadi District Police, which had unofficially told me that the Prosecutor's Office opened a criminal case under Article 128 - causing a less severe harm to my health. But this is not adequate to those cruel actions, which had been applied to our family. I was also personally threatened," Idrak Abbasov told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

So far, the "Caucasian Knot" has no comments of law enforcement officials.

Speaking about the incident, Abbasov has noted that the pretext for the attack on his relatives was in the alleged absence of the title on the house in the township of Sulu Tepe, located outside Baku.

Since the late 1980s, Sulu Tepe was spontaneously built up by migrants from rural areas of Azerbaijan; and then - by internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the zone of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, thus, having become a township. Its status remained unidentified. On the one hand, it was under local authorities, on the other - local oil fields were registered on the balance of the Oil and Gas Extraction Department (known as NGDU) "Binagadineft". Now, the Company "Binagadi Oil", which is created on the basis of the NGDU "Binagadineft", claims to own this territory. The owners of the new Company are the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and the Company "Global Energy" (registered in the Virgin Islands).

However, as noted by Abbasov, when these areas were actively built-up, the "Binagadi Oil" did not exist, it appeared only in early 2005.

According to his story, people were not just illegal builders - for a certain fee they received "receipts-permits on construction" from local authorities. "Despite the fact that 90 percent of local residents have no "deeds" (certificates on real estate title, - note of the "Caucasian Knot"); however, they all pay their utility bills and land taxes," said Abbasov.

Let us note here that the "Binagadi Oil" began demolishing houses in Sulu Tepe back in 2007. In recent years, this process, as noted by residents of the township, goes without paying compensations, sometimes with use of violence, as was the case with the family of journalist Abbasov, who had earlier written about such violent actions against other residents.

Telman Abbasov, the journalist's father, told about the attack. "When I got out of the car, I was attacked by two men, one from the left and one from the right; they shouted, 'This is his father.' One of them grabbed me by the throat and punched me on my head; then, I remember nothing; I woke up already in hospital. They also caught the children and threw them out of the house; then, they ruined it," said the victim.

"When I heard noise in the yard, I went out with open hands and addressed the men with shoulder straps (they were dressed in the uniform of the security service of the 'Binagadi Oil' Company), asking them: 'What are you doing? Stop!' In response, without any explanations, they started beating my head with a black rubber truncheon; I woke up in the intensive care unit; now I continue my treatment at home," said Naima Gulieva, the journalist's mother.

Guseinov: by pressing journalists and rights defenders, authorities want to intimidate ordinary residents

Emin Guseinov, Director of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) said, when commenting on the incident, that the authorities were coming up with new sophisticated forms of pressure on journalists.

"This is a good example of how the authorities try to silence the journalist, in particular, by using new methods of suppression. When they see that they can't strike a deal with a journalist, they attack his or her family and look for 'weak links'," said Guseinov.

He noted that even if the Abbasovs' house had been built illegally, it can be demolished only by a court order.

"The authorities have thus shown that they wouldn't beat around the bush with nobody - journalists, rights defenders or ordinary people. Their demonstrative pressure on journalists and human rights defenders, in particular, in relation to the struggle for property, shows ordinary citizen, that if 'we're doing this with journalists, you'll be just crushed down.' I think that this is done purposefully to intimidate ordinary people to make them feel hopeless and stop fighting," the IRFS Director believes.

Meanwhile, Idrak Abbasov is not going to give up and is ready to fight for his rights to the end, up to addressing the ECtHR.

"After my relatives got to hospital, I got into debts. I don't know how to go on. But I'll make it to the ECtHR, and I'll get to bullies were punished," said Abbasov.

Even local authorities have no idea about the owner of the land, where Abbasovs' house is located

Meanwhile, there is no clarity as to the owner of the territory, where the spontaneous township had appeared, and, in particular, the Abbasovs' house.

Neither the SOCAR nor the "Binagadi Oil" Company provide any comments or present any proofs of their ownership of the land. The SOCAR has only promised to investigate the incident. The local Hodzhasan municipality also possesses no information on the status of that territory.

See earlier reports: "Azerbaijani MIA completes inquiry of threats to journalist Idrak Abbasov," "In Azerbaijan, journalist Abbasov complains of pressure and threats," "Azerbaijani journalist Abbasov accused of disorderly conduct," "Journalist Idrak Abbasov's relatives beaten in Baku," "Three Azerbaijani journalists temporarily detained by the police," "Journalist complains of being pressed by Nakhichevan power agencies."

Author: Faik Medzhid; Source: CK correspondent

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