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Why Do Journalists Need to Escape from Georgia?

March 29, 2005

Why Do Journalists Need to Escape from Georgia?

Azeri Journalist Persecuted for Refusing to Cooperate with Special Services

It has already been more than a year that the Georgian-Azerbaijan newspaper Eni Dushundzhya (New Thinking) has remained unpublished. This is not because of the financial crisis or the irrelevance of the newspaper, but rather because of political pressure from the Georgian government. Niyazi Huseynov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper persecuted by the Georgian special services, is currently residing in Baku.  There, he is trying to restore his rights that were violated in Georgia, and is appealing to international society for support. He states that his brother Gachar Huseynov was arrested on April 3 of last year and is currently being held in a prison hospital. According to Gachar, he is subject to intense psychological pressure in prison. The relatives of the brothers say that Gachar was actually taken hostage in order to force Niyazi’s return to Georgia. Niyazi Huseynov himself, who has been charged with fraud, accuses Georgian special services of attempting to kill him and states that in Georgia he is being persecuted for refusing to cooperate with the Georgian special services. Late at night on January 21, 2004, armed persons attacked Huseynov’s family, inflicted physical injuries on family members, and then seized documents related to the newspaper. Niyazi Huseynov, who was supposed to be arrested on an unsubstantiated warrant, managed to escape to Baku.

Gachar Huseynov, employee of the newspaper Eni Dushundzhya (New Thinking), addresses Azerbaijani authorities and defenders of human rights from Tbilisi’s central prison, speaking about the oppression of Azerbaijanis in Georgia.  According to Huseynov, he and a number of other Azerbaijanis were being held in Georgian prisons on trumped-up charges. He also states that he is in unbearable conditions in the prison and, is subject to severe psychological pressure. In a letter to his brother he writes: “My patience will last for one more month. If the situation does not change for the better I will commit a suicide”.  Huseynov stresses the fact that recently two Azerbaijani prisoners in the Tbilisi jail had died. The Georgian authorities refuse to let him meet with relatives or the press.

The Georgian Embassy in Baku is informed about the issue and has sent a letter to Tbilisi. Georgia’s Ministry of Justice responded by saying that Huseynov’s captors are acting "within the frameworks of the law."

Relatives of Huseynov have stated that Gachar was actually taken hostages in exchange for his brother Niyazi’s return to Georgia. Niyazi, the editor-in-chief of Eni Dushundzhya had earlier stated that he was wanted for refusing to cooperate with the Georgian special services. 

Niyazi Huseynov, who currently is in Baku says that not only he, but the whole of his family is persecuted in Georgia. According to him late at night on January 21, 2004, armed persons rushed into his house and inflicted physical injury to Niyazi’s mother as well as his brothers and they demanded that they leave Georgia immediately.

Huseynov has addressed a number of international and local human rights organizations in Baku and Georgia, and also the UN and various embassies for support; however, none of them have reacted so far.

Eni Dushundzhya had been published for some time in Batumi, when Aslan Abashidze held power over the region of Adjara.