January 19th 07
President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
Norwegian PEN, the Norwegian section of International PEN, a non-political association of writers, expresses severe concern regarding Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu, who are both under prosecution and death threats because of their written and spoken opinions. It is reported that hey are being kept in detention awaiting a trial, and that this term is being extended without trial and a formal verdict. PEN calls for the release of Rafiq Tagi and Samir Sadagatoglu and that they be protected from attack and that any person who threatens their lives be brought to prosecution.
We consider the detention of these two men to be in direct violation of their right to freedom of expression. International PEN is appalled by calls that the two men be executed and the threats against their families. We are of the opinion that the imprisonment for an article published in a newspaper is in clear breach of international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression, notably Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a signatory.
Your Excellency, we urge you to look into these cases and make sure that the two men are being released and that all further threats to their families must be brought to an end.
Member of Norwegian PEN,