Freedom House report on the murder of Avaz Hafizli

Human rights organization Freedom House released its next annual report on internet freedom. The report covers the period from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022. 

In the report Countering the Authoritarian Overhaul of the Internet, Azerbaijan was included in the list of non-free countries. In the report, numerous cases of pressure against the representatives of Azerbaijan's civil society through social media were mentioned.

Among them was the persecution of journalist and LGBTQ+ activist Avaz Hafizli. The report states:

"In September 2021, freelance journalist and LGBT+ activist Avaz Hafizli was beaten by local security guards while covering a story about a newly opened restaurant. Hafizli was also targeted the same month in a video by blogger Sevinj Huseynova who openly called for violence against him as well as other members of Azerbaijan’s transgender community. Hafizli was killed by his cousin in February 2022 due to his sexual orientation."

The report also notes that harassment is widespread in Azerbaijan's online environment. So, in March 2022, two groups, one on Instagram and the other on Telegram, were reported to the relevant platforms for harassing the LGBTQ+ community and spreading hatred and violence.

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