July 22, 2023, Yerevan
We, the undersigned organizations, have no questions to the leadership of Azerbaijan – the country, which holds one of the lowest places in international freedom of expression rankings but is hosting yet another pompous media forum on July 22-23. Similarly, we have no questions to Azerbaijan’s Media Development Agency, the event organizer, which endorses all government initiatives that restrict freedom of speech and regularly targets human rights organizations for their criticism of the massive suppression of journalists’ rights in the country. Unfortunately, there are no additional questions to the reputable media and other professional entities that have delegated their representatives to the Forum, held with the sole purpose of legitimizing Baku’s foreign and domestic policies, which contradict to the fundamental values of the civilized world – such lack of integrity has long become business as usual for many.
Our question is addressed to fellow journalists who are currently enjoying the lavish hospitality of the Aliyev regime while finding themselves just a few kilometers away from the cities and villages of Nagorno-Karabagh, living in isolation from the outside world for more than seven months. Within this setting, thousands of people have been deprived of access to basic food for an extended period, women in childbirth are unable to reach hospital due to the scarcity of petrol, water supply is threatened due to a shortage of electricity: doesn’t your professional duty drive you to demand freedom of movement from the Azerbaijani authorities in order to witness a tragedy with few parallels in the modern world? Isn’t it anymore essential for the media to continue its role in breaking through information blockades, particularly in a situation where news about unfolding events is provided exclusively by biased sources? Will you really allow yourselves to be swayed by credulity, an unusual approach for professionals in our field, and embrace the arguments of the Forum’s hosts that assert their eagerness to assist your journey just a short drive away to Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabagh, attributing any hindrance to your passage to the local Armenian leadership or Russian peacekeepers?
Your determination and perseverance, in fact, could contribute to breaking the current impasse in the region. We firmly believe that this seemingly minor episode in the history of journalism may have significant implications for the future reputation of our shared profession.
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB