Apr 18, 2006

Talysh: Crackdown on Main Editor of Newspaper "Shavnisht"

In the beginning of April of this year in Baku, Azerbaijan, the first issue of the independent Talysh newspaper Shavnisht (Nightly Gathering) was launched. Shortly after, authorities in Azerbaijan pursued its initiators
In the beginning of April 2006 in Baku, Azerbaijan, the first issue of the independent Talysh newspaper «Shavnisht» (Nightly Gathering), was launched. The newspaper is devoted to subjects such as history, culture, literature, folklore, traditions and life of the Talysh people. Azeri authorities should welcome the idea of the output of such a newspaper, considering the 1.5 million Talysh residing in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, as the gross number of newspapers, some 500, in Azerbaijan are currently printed in Turkish, the release of the first quality newspaper in the Talysh language can be considered an important event in the life of the Talysh people.

However, immediately after this first release, Azeri authorities attempted to hamper the newspaper’s dissemination in various ways. One of these methods include intimidation of its journalists. Almost all of them were taken to law enforcement bodies and were subjected to so-called «sober conversations».

Because this did not produce the desired effect, the authorities decided to engage in a full-out attack on the editor-in-chief, Mr. Abbasov. Unable to find anything incriminating in the newspaper per se, the authorities decided to intrude in Abbasov’s private life.

On 11 April 2006, a local policeman named Rasul (surname unknown) went to Abbasov’s house and enquired about some documents on the recently acquired house. He then verbally abused Abbasov’s wife, whose husband was not in at the time, claiming that they were “living in the house without being registered” (though both of them are registered in Baku and only recently moved from one area of the city to another).
On the following day the police officer came by again and interrogated Abbasov’s wife, whose husband was out. This time the officer confiscated her passport and notified her that he had written a report of the situation and had sent it to the court of the “Azizbekovsky” district of Baku.

All these actions have give rise to indignation among representatives of the Talysh people, living both in Azerbaijan and outside its borders. We fear that these events signify a prelude of repressive actions against the Talysh newspaper and its editor-in-chief. We call upon international and European organizations to voice concerns over the situation of the Talysh people, who, due to acts of lawlessness, are even deprived of the opportunity to publish a newspaper in their own language. We also urge these organizations to raise their voice on the situation of Mr. Abbasov.

We, the representatives of the Talysh intelligentsia, wish to see Azerbaijan transforming into a respected democratic nation with European values, where individual rights are respected; of each citizen and of all peoples within the country.

Extract from: Tolish Press