Sevinj Osmanqizi

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Sevinc Osmanqızı
Osmanqizi during the show.jpg
Osmanqizi during the Open Talk show
Born Sevinj Osman gizi Mirzayeva
(1969-06-22) 22 June 1969 (age 47)
Baku, Azerbaijani SSR
Nationality Azerbaijani
Education Baku State University
Occupation Journalist, presenter, chief editor
Known for Dissident reporting
Notable credit(s) ANS TV

Sevinj Osmanqizi (Azerbaijani: Sevinc Osmanqızı) (born 22 June 1969) is a journalist, media personality, author and evening TV show host best known for her serious interviews with various political figures.[1] She is known for her forthright interviewing style, particularly when interrogating politicians. Osmanqizi is ANS TV network's Chief Editor and News Director, Chairwoman of WMW.[2]

She is the first Azerbaijani woman appointed to a diplomatic post, a CNN World View contributor, and host of the weekly debate programme Open Talk.[3]


She was born Sevinj Mirzayeva in Baku, Azerbaijan to a known journalist Osman Mirzayev and his wife, newspaper editor Solmaz Mirzayeva. After the country regained its independence in 1991, her father rose to the position of Senior Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan Republic. Osmanqizi's father was killed at 53 on the board of MI-8 military helicopter, carrying an international peacekeeping mission team to Nagorno-Karabakh.[4] Her father's tragic death have greatly affected her.[5]

After graduating from university, she worked as TV reporter and became popular for her news reports from the Nagorno-Karabakh war.[6] In 1990's she was one of the first news presenters introducing independent from government reporting, contributing a newer, outspoken quality to Azerbaijani television.[7] In 1992, Osmanqizi demonstrated her distinctive line of questioning in interview with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She has regularly made headlines with interviewees such as James Baker, Benazir Bhutto and others.[8]

In 1994, Osmanqizi became the first Azerbaijani woman appointed to a diplomatic post when she was named Deputy Spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry.[9] However her diplomatic career was brief; Later in 1994 she moved to UK to work for BBC World Service.[10]

Upon return to Azerbaijan, Osmanqizi became Chief Editor of ANS Independent Broadcast Company. From 2008 to 2011 she hosted the weekly programme Friday with Sevinj Osmanqizi and from 2011, the weekly debate show Open Talk.

Political Debate Moderator[edit]

In 2011, Osmanqizi introduced political special Open Talk, a televised debate between political leaders and public figures. The debates addressed issues of political dialogue, corruption, fair elections, crackdown on political opponents, prisoners of conscience. It was originally intended to have only a short run, but the program became very popular and was duly extended. Political leaders labeled as “radical opposition” and blacklisted for over a decade, appeared in the debate. Media experts characterized the debates as the rare exception in the Azerbaijani media offering pluralism of views.[11]

Investigating her father's death[edit]

She was 22 when her father, Osman Mirzayev, died. He was an important part of the administration - head of the press bureau and unofficial spokesman for then President Ayaz Mutallibov. She was working at the national television news centre as an intern, and heard the news being announced that a helicopter had crashed in Nagorno Karabakh. No alarm bells rang, because she thought her father was in Ganja. Then the announcer read out the names of the casualties, and suddenly she heard her father's name.[12]

The Russian media initially said it was a tragic accident - then later that it had been shot down. The following day, November 21, the chairman of the crash investigation committee announced on TV that the helicopter was shot at by large caliber weapons. Meanwhile, investigators didn't get there till the next day, and were hampered in their inspection of the scene by Russian soldiers. The Russians had recovered the black box from the wreckage and sent it to Russia, but it was soon announced that it had been too badly damaged by fire to provide any information. An official investigation by the Azeri government failed to come to any conclusion, and closed after a few years 'as the area of the crash site was still under occupation'.[13]

Eventually, frustrated with the lack of progress in the official investigation, Osmanqizi undertook her own. She traveled to the crash scene, interviewed dozens of eyewitnesses, tracked down the people in charge at the time, former investigators etc. She put together the hundreds of little pieces of evidence she was able to gather, and in 2011, on the 20th anniversary of the crash, the first part of her documentary "Mission of Peace" came out.[14] It showed that the delegation of peacekeepers from Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan was killed only two days before the planned signing of a peace agreement. Their deaths were a fatal blow to peace talks and plunged Azerbaijan and Armenia into war over Nagorno Karabakh that took over 20,000 lives.[15]

Threats, harassment and persecution[edit]

Threats, intimidation and violence have been used against Sevinc Osmanqizi to influence her journalism, including death threats and legal persecution. In early January 2015 the Azerbaijani government targeted Sevinc Osmanqizi in its latest attempt to stifle press freedom. [16]

While Osmanqizi’s inquisitive, balanced, hard-hitting reporting had long garnered criticism from government officials who prefer to feed citizens propaganda, recent unsubstantiated allegations of libel - a criminal offense in Azerbaijan - caught her by surprise. [17]In launching libel charges against Osmanqizi over the holidays, the Azerbaijani government was able to expedite the criminal case before she had the opportunity to challenge the allegations.[18] Rights activists described the case as "trumped up charges after being critical of the government."[19]

With more than 25 years of professional journalism experience, Osmanqizi is well versed in the language the Azerbaijani government likes to employ against free thinkers - especially those in the media spotlight. She says that, despite her best efforts to honor media ethics - accuracy, objectivity, transparency - she has long been flagged as a “traitor” and a “spy,” false accusations of espionage that come with harsh consequences. [20]

The fact that her journalistic talents allowed her to freelance for international news outlets like the BBC and CNN simply fueled government campaigns framing her as a threat to local government. The judge excluded journalists and foreign observers from attending Osmanqizi's trial.[21]

Osmanqizi is no stranger to the dangers of practicing quality journalism in Azerbaijan. She comes from a family of journalists, including her father, Osman Mirzayev, who died on the job. His death ingrained an even deeper passion for truth-seeking and truth-telling in Osmanqizi, who began broadcast reporting at the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and went on to becoming the chief editor of ANS TV and host of a weekly debate program called Open Talk. [22] She also taught journalism at the US-Azerbaijan Journalism Academy.

Sadly, she says that if she were still teaching today, she’d advise students to prioritize their safety above all else because the best journalists are thrown in jail, not recognized for their contributions to the nation’s co-called democracy.



  • "Black January, Red Carnations" (ANS TV, 2012)
  • "Mission of Peace" ( ANS TV, 2011)
  • "Mission of Peace-2" (ANS TV, 2012)
  • "Civilizations" (BBC World Service, 1999)


  1. ^ "US Ambassador's remarks at the reception organized in honor of English Language Courses Graduates". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Севиндж Османгызы: "Обама запомнился мне как любознательный человек и истинный джентльмен"". (in Russian). Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "CNN looks at oil-boom Azerbaijan". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "SEVİNC OSMANQIZI "VARİS"də". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızı ilə bağlı yadımda üç xüsusiyyət qalıb". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızı: "Bir nəfər də tapmadım mənə desin ki, "Sən ağıllı hərəkət edirsən""". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "SEVİNC OSMANQIZI ANS-də APARACAĞI İKİ VERİLİŞDƏN DANIŞIR". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "SEVİNC OSMANQIZI "VARİS"də". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızı mükafatlandırıldı". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızı BBC-nin təklifindən niyə imtina etdi?". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Azərbaycanın elektron KİV-də dialoq yoxdur". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızı: " Azərbaycan teleməkanında atam qədər nəhəng görmürəm" - MÜSAHİBƏ". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  13. ^ "20 noyabr vertolyot qəzası ilə bağlı açıq qalan suallara aydınlıq gətiriləcək" (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Sevinc Osmanqızının "Sülh missiyası"na sözardı" (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "My father's helicopter was shut down". Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  16. ^ January 2015 ""As if I Robbed a Bank or Killed Someone"" Check |url= value (help) (in Azerbaijani). 
  17. ^ January 2015 ""I Am Persecuted for Political Reasons"" Check |url= value (help) (in Russian). 
  18. ^ January 2015 ""Sevinj Osmangizi rejects the accusations, calls criminal case 'political'"" Check |url= value (help). 
  19. ^ January 2015 ""Bu təhlükəli təmayül ictimai qınağa səbəb olmalıdır"" Check |url= value (help) (in Azerbaijani). 
  20. ^ January 2015 ""Famous Journalist Faces Criminal Charges"" Check |url= value (help) (in Azerbaijani). 
  21. ^ January 2015 ""Why is Famous Journalist's Trial Held Behind Closed Doors?"" Check |url= value (help) (in Azerbaijani). 
  22. ^ January 2015 ""Sevinc Osmanqızıdan məhkəmə işinə reaksiya – "Sifarişdir""" Check |url= value (help) (in Azerbaijani). 

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