Issue of Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev raised at OSCE Vienna meeting

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On November 6, the meeting of the OSCE on “The Role of Media in Counteracting of Disinformation, “Hate Speech” and Radicalization” took place in Vienna, Austria. Representatives of OSCE participating States, OSCE institutions, and OSCE executive structures, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, legal professionals, representatives of civil society and researchers from 57 participating States took part in discussions.

Taking an active part in discussions, Head of Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Dr. Ahmad Shahidov spoke about the importance of the media in the settlement of existing conflicts in the South Caucasus. Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the human rights defender informed about the Armenia’s aggressive policy and said that the armenian media supports this invasion. Head of AIDHR raised the issue of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who went to Kalbajar region to visit the grave of their relatives in July 2014, and said that these civil persons are being held in armenian captivity for over last 4 years and the armenian media is propagating this injustice: “We all know that the role of free media is to serve the peace, stability and prosperity in the world. But in the South Caucasus, media, especially the free media, do not always serve to peace and stability. Here’s a concrete example.

We have been monitoring the armenian media for over last 4 years. I want to talk you about the reaction of armenian media to this issue. These persons were taken hostage by Armenian armed forces in July 2014. They are civilians and older people – Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev. They were illegally arrested, and by the decision of a fake court in Nagornoy Karabakh, Shahbaz Guliyev was sentenced to 22 years in prison, Dilgam Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment. We talked a lot about it. Everyone knows that these persons are civilians, and their arrest is against all international laws. Armenian authorities brutally violate the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and kept them in hostage for over last 4 years. This is one side of the issue. The other side of the issue is the reaction of the Armenian press to this arrest. It is regrettable to note that during the 4 years of monitoring, all Armenian media presented these individuals as terrorists. We have taken these photos from Armenian news sites. Look, how do these civilians are taken to court and how the Armenian press presents them?!”

Then, Ahmad Shahidov said that the armenian media used libel, slander and blackmail methods, focusing on the information published in the armenian press about himself: “I want to emphasize one point that I have been defending the rights of these people for the past four years as an advocate of human rights and the armenian press presents me as a lawyer of terrorists. Meanwhile, armenian press has so far published a large number of false, slanderous and blackmail articles. It is not only the media that is under the control of the Armenian government, but the entire armenian press. However, the main function of the press is to achieve peace and stability in the region. Today, one of the reasons for the tension in the South Caucasus is the Armenian government, the second reason is the Armenian press. Because today the Armenian press is not independent, but the propaganda machine of the Sargsyan government.”

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