Sunday, May 3

Pro government journalists say all is good in Azerbaijan and then...

Thank you dear Azer Hesret (525ci Gazet) and Hikmet Babaoglu (editor in chief of Yeni Azerbaycan newspaper) for making my presentation yesterday in Riga at the World Press Freedom Day so colorful. If it wasn't for your intervention the audience would not experience first hand the theater of absurdity of government apologists who claim Azerbaijan has more freedoms than everyone in this world combined. 

Shortly after I finished my presentation on the on-going crackdown in Azerbaijan, and the rest of the panelists completed their presentations, the floor was open to Q&A. Our Azerbaijani colleagues were the first ones to raise their hands. First it was Azer Hesret who took the mic (works for pro-govt media). He said I was lying. That there were no limits on freedom of expression or media. That everything in Azerbaijan was free and that we had no political prisoners. 

But the most shocking part was when he said all those bloggers and journalists who are currently in jail, belong there because these are the people who are either trying to overthrow Azerbaijani government or trying to bring radical Islam to the country. He added “its good they are there”. 

When the moderator of our panel David asked what was his Azer Hesret’s question to the panelists Azer Hesret said, “I don’t know where you found this girl who pretends to be an expert. Because obviously this young girl doesn’t know what the real situation in Azerbaijan really is.” 

I took the mic and the only thing I could say to this was that I was expecting such an intervention. 

Then it was Hikmet Babaoglu’s turn (who is editor in chief of basically what is the mouthpiece of Ruling Party - Yeni Azerbaycan). Who confirmed that certainly I was lying. Baboglu also said how would I know anything about Azerbaijan if I don’t even live there. He then on went to accusing me of representing Armenian interests, that because of my collaboration with Agos I was a traitor and so on. 

Needless the audience inside the room was appalled. But that didn’t stop them. Emin Emilli who was also in the room took the mic afterwords and thanked both of these gentlemen for making such an important intervention. Thanks to them, we all first handedly experienced the absurdity of the situation in Azerbaijan. 

 Mr. Hasret accused me before as well on Twitter. When I looked up his twitter account I saw that I have muted him - I guess I did that for a reason.

The sad thing however is that these two older genltemen were intimidated by a young journalist. Not only that they even were intimidated that I was a female journalist. This would explain their sexist comments and comments questioning their credibility. 

What Mr. Hasret and Babaoglu didn't know when they made that valuable intervention is that they actually once again confirmed that people like Khadija, Omar, Rasul, Intigam, Leyla and Arif, Rauf are in jail not because of tax evasion, or abuse of authority or embezzlement or treason but because of their political views. 

Well done! Oh and in case you are interested you can see Yeni Azerbaijan paper bashing me here (sorry it is all in Azerbaijani, although it might spare you some nerves ;) 


Unknown said...

I want to address to journalists of Azerbaijan who work for the benefit of the West. you have to work and love this country rather than to smear it. Don't keep the self-interest higher from your country.

Anonymous said...

Just a ridiculous article from the author.

Aygun Memmedli said...

different groups run smear campaign against Azerbaijan with your help

Anonymous said...

i wonder how u dare to right like this against Azerbaijan..

Anonymous said...

With all due respect - real journalists work only for the benefit of their audience, which generally expects facts, credibility, and intellectual honesty. "Journalists" who place the corrupt self-interest of a ruling elite above the interests of their audience do their country a disservice.

Aaron McKean said...

Congratulations on such an exciting intervention! Your work is appreciated, Arzu, and you're making a difference. I wish more journalists in the US would do the same truth-telling regarding their own government. Just as every government has problems, no matter what country, every government needs people who are willing to call out those injustices. Cheers to you.

Unknown said...

Some international organisations use the issue of CPJ as a tool of pressure to some countries.

Arzu Geybulla said...

Dear Ismayil, Anonymous x3, Aygun and Elmar,

I want to address you all who are doing nothing from where you are sitting; who are turning their eyes away from the dire situation Azerbaijani people live in; who rather listen to the lies of President Aliyev and his cabinet; who have little respect, interest or care for those people who are locked up behind bars. You have chosen the easiest path - to remain silent, blind, and deaf. Your problem is (depending whether you are a real person or a troll) you have no respect for your country.

When will you realize that people of Azerbaijan live in poverty; are unemployed; are uncared for; lack social services and have to pay bribes for everything.

How can you so blindly refuse to see the reality? Perhaps you are of priveleged kind - the ones who can afford the expensive life in Azerbaijan but snap out of it for a second and look around you. Visit a remote village in Azerbaijan. Do you actually know that there is no sewage system in many parts of our country? That there are electricity shortages? That there is still no heating despite our so-called "gas wealth"?

Have you visited a village school in the past year? Have you seen the dire conditions our children have to go to school everyday?

And these are just the basics!

You obviously have no interest in the future our generations because you have everything provided for yourself but what about millions of others?

Do you realize that out of 9.3 million of Azerbaijan population about 2milliong live and work in Russia? Do you know why they do that? You think its because of their love for Russia? No ,its because President Aliev doesn't give a shit about the well being of these people. If he was so democratic and caring as you make him to be then this would be visible on all levels of our society.

How can you reject the fact that we have so many pensioners across the country who are barely surviving?

How can you reject the fact that we have so many families struggling to make ends meet every day across Azerbaijan?

Baku isn't Azerbaijan. Those fancy, multi million/billion developments don't make lives of millions of other Azerbaijanis any easier, any better or any prettier.

We have stopped creating jobs. If our president was so great then why doesn't he recover the economic areas we once were really good at? Why doesn't he invest in old factories to restart their production? Why doesn't he create jobs in sectors like agriculture?

I am tired of fighting people like you who care just as little as Azerbaijani government. All you do is try to discredit truth. You are no different then the people running our government.

Arzu Geybulla said...

Dear Aaron,

Thank you very much for your comment. Appreciate it!


Unknown said...

Dear Arzu,
I want to apologize those words only Armenians can write.

Arzu Geybulla said...

Elmar Aliyev, and I am sorry to say this that you have been brainwashed.

Unknown said...