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Internet cafes shut down in Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic

An Internet cafe in Baku, Azerbaijan
An Internet cafe in Baku, Azerbaijan

Robert Thomson/Flickr

Internet cafes are being shut down in Nakhchivan – an Autonomous Republic under Azerbaijan – where the record on human rights and political liberties has been dismal over the past years, and has grown worse.

According to Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev, IRFS' regional correspondent in Nakhchivan, the crackdown on Internet cafes started on 23 August, in what Nakhchivani rights groups believe is yet another attempt of the feudal-style regime to restrict access to information ahead of upcoming presidential election.

Mehdiyev says he has learned about the alleged crackdown from Internet cafe owners, who wanted to stay anonymous.

“They said that this instruction was given by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nakhchivan. Beginning [on] August 24, we started to receive news about the closure of Internet cafes in some cities and villages [in] the region. Even private households' access to the Internet is restricted ”, said the journalist.

Malahat Nasibova, a human rights defender working in Nakhchivan, said that after a short monitoring they have come to the conclusion that the majority of Internet cafes in the city of Nakhchivan have been shut down.

“Human rights defenders and members of political parties in Nakhchivan think that the reason of closure of Internet clubs is an attempt to reduce online activism on the eve of elections. Before the election, such measures may be applied in Baku and other regions as well”, said the human rights defender.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nakhchivan denied the information about hindering the work of Internet cafes to IRFS.

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