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As elections approach, 27 IFEX members urge president to allow erection of memorial to slain journalist

(IRFS/IFEX) - The following is a joint letter from 27 IFEX members to President Ilham Aliyev:

President Ilham Aliyev:

We the undersigned support the efforts of civil society organizations in Azerbaijan to create a memorial to slain journalist Elmar Huseynov, and we encourage your government to support this initiative by granting permission for the erection of the memorial.

To date, Elmar Husenyov's murder remains unsolved. His death signified not just the loss of an extremely talented journalist; it was also a blow to the democratic ideals that he defended. Over 5,000 people, including ambassadors, government officials, politicians and regular citizens, attended Huseynov's funeral, at which the editor-in-chief was hailed as a national hero.

In the lead up to elections in 2008, the international community would welcome the government's decision to support the establishment of such a memorial, which would send a strong message from your government about its commitment to democracy and respect for human rights.

We recognise that Elmar Husenyov was - and is to this day - a hero and an inspiration to the people of Azerbaijan. Moreover, we recognise that the murder of Elmar Huseynov undermined the struggle for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, We are also aware that the silencing of ideas and opinions through murders, threats, attacks, and financial sanctions undermines the democratic ideals to which Azerbaijan is committed.

For these reasons, we strongly support the creation of a memorial to Elmar Huseynov in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku. We anticipate that this memorial will not only honour a great man, but will also serve as a lasting symbol of Huseynov's struggle for freedom of expression and Azerbaijan's achievements in the area of democracy.

Signed,

Adil Soz, Kazakhstan
Arab Archives Institute, Jordan
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HR Info), Egypt
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Cartoonists Rights Network, United States
Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), Nepal
Centre for Journalists in Extreme Situations (CJES), Russia
Centro de Periodismo y Ética Pública (CEPET), Mexico
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS), Mexico
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), United States
Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA), Argentina
Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka
Freedom House, United States
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Independent Journalism Center Moldova, Moldova
Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), Peru
Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Azerbaijan
Institute of Mass Information (IMI), Ukraine
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Belgium
International Press Institute (IPI)
Journalists Trade Union (JuHI), Azerbaijan
Mizzima News, India/Burma
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), France
South East Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA), Thailand
World Association of Newspapers (WAN), United States
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), United States

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