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Journalists assaulted while covering president's birthday celebration

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 24 December 2011, several journalists were assaulted while covering the celebration of President Ilham Aliyev's 50th birthday. The celebration, hosted by the Sumgayit City Executive Administration featured a 50-metre long cake. However, at the supposedly festive occasion, "Azadlig" newspaper employees Ramin Deko, Vidadi Mammadov and Namig Jafarli, as well as Radio Liberty employee Maarif Chingizoglu reported that they were physically assaulted and prevented from carrying out their work.

Ramin Deko told IRFS:

"My photographic camera was seized. The Sumgayit City Executive Administration department head, whose first name is Abulfaz, used inappropriate language to insult the media. Though we told them we had obtained permission from Police Chief Azer Jahangirov to film the ceremony, Executive Administration employees ignored that fact. We went to Azer Jahangirov and asked for our camera to be returned to us. After we asked, an employee from the Executive Administration invited us to the cultural house and returned the camera to us, after deleting several photos. Radio Liberty employee Maarif Chingizoglu was harassed by four or five undercover agents while he was filming the ceremony. They demanded that Chingizoglu delete the footage from the camera. When he refused, they forcibly seized the camera and returned it after deleting the footage. They also tore the journalist's coat."

Deko also said that he has appealed to the Public Prosecutor's Office and Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding the incident.

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