On November 19, 2011, writer and journalist Rafiq Tagi received multiple stab wounds in a violent attack carried out by two unidentified assailants as he was returning home from work in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. Although the motive for the attack remains unclear, reports suggest that it may have been related to an article he recently published. An investigation has been launched. PEN International condemns the violent attack on Rafiq Tagi and calls for a full and impartial investigation examining the possibility that the attack was related to his writings.

Background Information

On November 19, 2011, Rafiq Tagi was attacked as he was returning home from work. He received six stab wounds and needed emergency surgery to remove his spleen. He was also reported to have suffered broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, and injuries to his stomach and diaphragm. The attack was reported to have been carried out by two unidentified male assailants, aged approximately 30-35 years, who had their faces concealed and did not saying anything during the assault. It was also reported that Taji escaped even more serious injuries by shielding his chest with a book he was carrying. He underwent fours hours of emergency surgery and is now reportedly in stable condition in a hospital in Baku.
Although the motive for the attack remains unknown, it is alleged that is may have been related to an article Tagi published on November 10 entitled “Iran and the Inevitability of Globalization,” in which he criticized the Iranian regime and described threats made by Iran against Azerbaijan as “ridiculous.” A criminal investigation into the attack has been launched by Khatai District Prosecutor’s Office.
Tagi, a former PEN case and Honorary Member of several PEN centers, was previously arrested in November 2006 for an article entitled “Europe and Us,” published in the newspaper Sanat, for which he was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad. Following the publication of the article, Grand Ayatollah Fazil Lankarani of Iran issued a fatwa calling for Tagi’s death. He was sentenced to three years in prison for the article under Article 283 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code for “inciting national, racial and religious enmity.”

Following significant international pressure, Tagi was granted amnesty on December 28, 2007.

Write A Letter

  • Condemning the violent attack on journalist Rafiq Tagi;
  • Expressing concerns that the attack may have resulted from his legitimate expression of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for a full, impartial investigation into the assault.

Send Your Letter To

Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066
Fax: + 994 12 492 06 25

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7
370005 Baku
Fax: + 994 12 492 45 90

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Azerbaijan in your country if possible.