On 30 July, Leyla Yunus, Azerbaijan’s prominent human rights advocate, civil society activist and one of the authors of the most recent political prisoners’ list was arrested. Shortly after, her husband, well-respected historian Arif Yunus was also arrested. The couple is charged with high treason, illegal business activities, forgery and fraud. The two are being held in separate detention facilities unable to see each other since their arrests. On October 24, Leyla Yunus’s detention was extended until February 28. The couple and their supporters say their arrest is politically motivated.
Their daughter, Dinara Yunus left Azerbaijan in 2009 for safety reasons and is currently residing in Holland. She completed her graduate studies at the University of Amsterdam where she received MS in International Management. Currently, Dinara is involved in the support campaign advocating for her parents immediate release as well as the release of other unjustly jailed political activists in Azerbaijan. Below, is the English translation of the letter Dinara wrote to her jailed parents only a few days ago.
My dearest mom and dad,
I am sitting here, in a small café, at the Amsterdam international airport. As I sit, I watch people walk by…
Involuntarily I am attracted by the families that pass by: mom, dad, son, daughter…
Some of these families walk by looking happy, perhaps planning their future trips together. Some sit at the tables nearby, happily engaged in their conversations with each other. Perhaps they are exchanging jokes or maybe just chatting.
Not even in their worst dreams, they could possibly imagine their cruel and inhuman separation.
Mommy, daddy, we also sat here at this café, drinking coffee, chatting about future. Do you remember our rare and short reunions in Amsterdam? When we too happily strolled, embraced each other, and laughed together! When we even if for a second would forget about the fast approaching parting day?
Each time we returned to this Amsterdam airport after our week together (a week of sometimes once a year or once in two years reunions); we pretended that it didn’t hurt, that we weren’t sad about upcoming farewells. But even you daddy, would get teary-eyed. Even if you’d insist it was just dust caught in your eye. When you mommy, having embraced me, wouldn’t let go of me for a while… And me, barely keeping it together, as I watched you go through customs, waving at each other for one last time.
We were brutally separated! By these lemberanskis and pashayevs!
How many years, will it still take us to continue living separately from each other! How many more years will we be deprived from celebrating New Years and birthdays together?
Next year, we all have our jubilees. Do you remember our plan to celebrate our joint jubilees together in yet another short “week”?! All those times not being able to get together for a family dinner. You, my dear mom loved it when we all ate together.
As I write these words, a family sits opposite me, reminding me of us. The father happily talking about something to his daughter while her mother holding her tight…
We also used to sit like this!
Daddy, I remember that night in April, when you lost your consciousness and these animals wouldn’t even take you to the hospital. Nor they let anyone else take you. When they humiliated you mommy, and wouldn’t even let you use the bathroom. And I, watching all of this on YouTube, away from you, not being able to talk, to hear your voices, as all the phones were silent.
Mommy, I heard your diabetes is worsening, and that you have constant headaches, and pain in your eyes.
I remember those difficult days, when all of a sudden, you were having difficult seeing. I also remember the immense relief after two tough operations on both of your eyes. And after all of this, that brutal man calling himself a major, beating you cruelly on your head while you lay there helpless on the cold floor of the prison cell!
I have heard you lost a lot of weight and that you are having difficulty walking. I am so afraid you are going to have a rapid case of Hepatitis C! Has your liver started bothering you? Mommy it hurts so much to know all of this.
Daddy, I am so afraid these animals won’t help when you are going to be in need of an immediate medical assistance. And that these lemberanskis, pashayevs and akhmedovs are going to simply watch you suffer. These animals have no limits. It is as if they take an indescribable pleasure watching your suffering and torment.
I am asking you to take care of yourselves!
I am still watching the family sitting next to me…
My dearest mommy and daddy, you hold on, I am so proud of you! I love you so very much and miss you!