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Correspondents harassed, assaulted in Sadarak region

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 16 January 2009, IRFS Nakhchivan regional correspondents Hakimeldosu Mehdiyev, Elman Abbasov and Mehman Mehdiyev and Radio Liberty and "Turan" information agency correspondent Malahat Nasibova went to the village of Heydarabad in the Sadarak region to investigate recent incidents that have taken place there. They wanted to visit the residence of Ismayil Huseynova, who was forcibly placed into a psychiatric hospital by police and was only recently released.

Three kilometres from the Sadarak region they were met by the service car of the head of the Sadarak Regional Police Department, Fariz Mammadov, and another automobile, which followed the journalists. The journalists entered the yard of Huseynov's house to check if his wife, Khanimzar Huseynova, and son, Elvin Huseynov, were at home, however the door to the house was locked. At that time, a group of 20 to 25 people entered the yard and began to pressure the journalists.

According to Mehdiyev, Mammadov, who had followed them, left the area right when the difficulties began. "After this, when we wanted to begin recording, the assistant head of the executive power, Ashraf Gasimov, the head of the education department, Oruj Habibov, school director Nadir Guliyev, several social security fund and executive power employees and several taxi drivers attacked us and refused to let us film," he said. "They called us 'enemies.' Although we had vests on with 'press' written on them, they insulted us."

The attackers said, "Whom did you ask for permission to come here? Armenians sent you here. You are Armenians. You destroyed the family. You came here to cause problems. It has been peaceful here since 1992. Leave here immediately or the people of Sadarak will come and stone you. No one has been taken to the hospital. Get out of here. You have no right to speak on behalf of the people. Leave!" One of the attackers used force against Mehdiyev. Seeing that the situation was tense, the journalists left the region.

Most of the attackers were the heads of government offices and establishments in Heydarabad. They were wearing badges with pictures of former president Heydar Aliyev on them. According to Mehdiyev, he was beaten by police near the house. He was also struck by a taxi driver, and was forcefully pushed into his car and ordered to leave the region. Two police cars accompanied the vehicle as it left the area.

Mehdiyev is planning to appeal to the Sadarak regional Prosecutor's Office in connection with the incident.

This incident appears to be related to a 24 December 2008 incident in which a group of youths were detained by the Sadarak Regional Police and held overnight in the police station. During their time in detention, the youths were subjected to physical and psychological pressure and their parents subsequently sent formal written complaints to the national Interior Ministry and the president. Huseynova, who was one of the complainants, was then placed in a psychiatric hospital and his wife and son subsequently went missing.

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