‘Western’ human rights defenders accused of double standards by controversial Azeri journalist

February 16, 2013

On 15 February 2013 News.az (an Azeri news agency) distributed under the title “Western human rights defenders’ silence shows double standards” a bit of a rambling attack on western-based international organizations and human rights defenders for using double standards by being quickly critical of repression of journalists in the ‘new democracies’ such as Azerbaijan and being silent with regard to similar repression in western Europe.

112464The 15 February piece is mostly based on an interview with Eynulla Fatullayev, editor of the website Haqqin.az, who stated that the case of journalists from News of the World is a high-profile case, and certainly should be considered in the plane of restrictions on the rights of journalists to work freely. What the article does not state is that on 22 January of this year Amnesty International has announced the termination of its collaboration with Eynulla Fatullayev, a former prisoner of conscience, and head of the Public Association for Human Rights in Azerbaijan.  Amnesty International believes that Fatullayev, and in particular, his site Haqqin.az, is used by the Government of Azerbaijan to discredit European criticism of human rights violations in Azerbaijan. In 2011 Amnesty International had issued a “mass tweet” on Fatullayev’s behalf; Fatullayev attributed his release inter alia to the work of Amnesty International activists.

In the interview Eynulla Fatullayev states among others the following: I am more than sure that if a similar event occurred in Azerbaijan or in another state, located in the zone of the new democracies, it would be followed by statements by most international organizations condemning the policy of the authorities to the persecution of media. Why in the case of the United Kingdom or other EU countries, all these organizations remain strangely silent?” 

According to Fatullayev, ………There is a fair question – just today the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Azerbaijan for the charges against nine journalists. Although almost none of them are accused of defamation. Why when it comes to Azerbaijan the whole international human rights network gets up on its hind legs, and when it comes to Britain, Germany and other developed EU countries, these organizations harp on the rule of law and prefer to wait until the European Court’s decision? What type of selectivity is that? …..

“Let’s imagine that tomorrow journalist Khadija Ismayilova will appear in the place of the guys from the British tabloid. What will be the reaction of the international human rights organizations? Definitely, an attack on freedom of speech, expression, pursuit of professional activities, anti-critical voice, etc. Why then when it comes to the European Union, it is an enforcement measure aimed at ensuring the rule of law?

For example, a leading German television journalist, editor of news programs of the public TV Nicholas Bender was fired for criticizing Angela Merkel. All international organizations, except for Reporters without Borders and Association of German Journalists kept silent, and somehow did not notice the persecution of the journalist in the country with unprecedented growth of democracy. He is still unemployed, because none of the television networks would dare to employ him, whose criticism was not to the liking of the ruling coalition,” said the defender. According to Fatullayev, there is only one name to it – the double standards that have caused the crisis of European democracy itself. (for the original article in full see: http://news.az/articles/politics/76652)

While the interview misses out on a real comparison of cases (e.g. there is no description of the journalistic behavior that would have been rightly curtailed by the Azeri authorities), it is not easy to dismiss the journalist as a crank. Eynulla Fatullayev, is the former editor-in-chief and founder of the independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan (Real Azerbaijan) and the Azeri-language daily Gundalik Azarbaycan (Azerbaijan Daily) newspapers. He was imprisoned in 2007 and was released in 2011 – after serving four years of his eight-year sentence – by presidential pardon on  26 May, an event that was welcomed by the international community. . In July 2011 Mr Fatullayev founded the “Public Union for Human Rights”, a non-governmental human rights organization. In 2012 he was accorded the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/azerbaijani_journalist_eynulla_fatullayev_selected_laureate_of_2012_unescoguillermo_cano_world_press_freedom_prize/).  Earlier, in 2009, Fatullayev was awarded an CPJ International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists for “defending press freedom in the face of attacks, threats or imprisonment.” This poses the question: did he deserve the awards or did UNESCO and CJP not know what they were doing? 


One Response to “‘Western’ human rights defenders accused of double standards by controversial Azeri journalist”

  1. […] ‘Western’ human rights defenders accused of double standards by controversial Azeri&nbsp… […]

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