Emin Milli: denial of the truth is Ilham Aliyev's policy

At a meeting with a delegation of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Ilham Aliyev spoke about a resolution adopted by the committee more than one year ago, claiming that it contained many lies and falsehoods, and added that allegations of threats against the life of Meydan TV director, Emin Milli, were false. 

Emin Milli commented on what president Ilham Aliyev had to say: 

- Ilham Aliyev said that no one had ever threatened to kill you, and that all allegations were false. Who were you threatened by, and why were you targeted? 

 President Ilham Aliyev has denied on numerous occasions at international conferences and to the international press the existence of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. For him, the question of ‘the truth’ and the denial of existing problems within the country is a matter of policy. He is a shining - a perfect - example of the phenomenon of ‘post - truth politics’ in the modern world. For such politicians, there are no facts, there is no truth: they create reality for themselves. And they demand that those around them accept and propagate this reality. During the European Games in Baku in 2015, Meydan TV published a number of controversial reports on events surrounding the games, which then spread throughout not only Azerbaijani but also world media. This made Ilham Aliyev and the government, well, rather uncomfortable. Afterwards, I was threatened by Azad Rahimov - the Minister of Youth and Sport. International media reported on this event on a wide scale. 

- Is there currently any danger to your life? 

People trust Meydan TV, they believe in what we do. They know that we don’t write lies - we don’t show lies, either. 

If we make a mistake in our reporting, we apologize to our viewers and our readers, and we fix it. The government is afraid of the trust our growing audience shows us. Meydan TV is a great example of a professional and independent media outlet that is restricted by dictatorial and authoritarian regimes around the world. The Washington Post wrote about us in April and our position, and assessed us as one of the most successful ventures in our genre. The government is afraid of our success. In Azerbaijan, a criminal case has been opened against Meydan TV and its leadership. Those who cooperate or work for Meydan are subject to constant pressure from the Azerbaijani government.  They have been tortured, their relatives have been arrested - they have been fired from their work places.

All of these tactics place a great amount of pressure on not only me, but on all journalists and independent media sources. It’s not just my life. Everyone who works for Meydan TV runs a risk. 19 year old journalist, Shirin Abbasov, was arrested and tortured in prison for 30 days because he worked for us. He is also in danger. I’d like for Ilham Aliyev to watch Meydan TV, and for him to work on solving the societal and government problems on which we try to shed some light. This would only serve to higher his rating. So I don’t see Meydan TV as an opponent to the government, nor personally to Ilham Aliyev. Problems of the media in Azerbaijan must be shown for all to see, and the politicians must solve these issues. But the current system in Azerbaijan is dangerous for not only every journalist, but for every citizen. 

 Ilham Aliyev in his speech said that the rights of assembly and expression are provided for in Azerbaijan. As the leader of a media organization, how would you assess that statement? 

Every time I listen to Ilham Aliyev, or when I see a program on AzTV, I wish that their presentation of Azerbaijan as a country in which people live happily and freely would be true and coincide with reality. However, it is a shame that neither I nor the people live in such an Azerbaijan. 

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