What caused the recent arrests?

Recent arrests of several Toplum TV employees and members of the III Republika Platform have sparked concerns and raised questions about media freedom and government control in Azerbaijan. The arrests, which occurred on March 6 and 7, have drawn attention to the growing tension between independent media outlets and the Azerbaijani authorities.

The sequence of events leading to these arrests is telling. On March 6, police conducted a raid on the office of Toplum TV, a prominent independent media outlet in Azerbaijan. Simultaneously, the apartments of several of the site's employees were searched. The charges leveled against individuals including Akif Gurbanov, Farid Ismailov, Mushfig Jabbar, Ali Zeinal, Ramil Babayeva, Elmir Abbasov, and Ilkin Amrakhov, under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code, accuse them of smuggling.

Subsequently, on March 8, Alesker Mammadli, the founder of Toplum TV, was detained outside an Istanbul clinic by unidentified individuals. His house was subsequently searched, and similar charges were brought against him. Additionally, Ruslan Izzeteli, a member of the III Republic Platform, was also detained. Both Mammadli and Izzeteli were remanded in custody for a period of four months following a court decision.

The stated reason behind these arrests, according to political commentator Arastun Orujlu, is the Azerbaijani government's attempt to stifle independent media outlets. In an interview with the "Difficult Question" program, Orujlu argues that over the years, the authorities have failed to establish their own operational information policy, which has led to a loss of control over the information space. With pro-government TV channels losing ground to independent platforms, particularly on the internet, the authorities began to feel threatened.

In response, Orujlu suggests that the government sought to create alternative YouTube channels to counter the influence of independent media. However, due to existing restrictions, such as limitations on discussing domestic politics and economics, these efforts were insufficient. Consequently, the government resorted to intimidation and suppression of independent media platforms.

To fully establish control over the media space, Orujlu contends, the government would need to resort to drastic measures akin to those seen in authoritarian regimes like North Korea or China, such as limiting internet access or exerting control over platforms like YouTube. However, given Azerbaijan's location within the European space, such measures would likely face significant international scrutiny and opposition.

Therefore, the arrests of individuals associated with Toplum TV and the III Republika Platform can be seen as part of a broader strategy by the Azerbaijani government to assert control over the country's media landscape. By targeting independent voices, the government aims to maintain its grip on power and suppress dissenting narratives. However, such actions raise serious concerns about press freedom and democratic principles within Azerbaijan, prompting calls for international attention and condemnation.

Leave a review

Difficult question

Follow us on social networks

News Line