Front Line Defenders is an International foundation for the protection of human rights defenders.
I am hoping that this message from all of us in Front Line Defenders, to wish you strength and hope, will find its way to you despite the prison gates and the walls of human cruelty that separate us. A famous English writer George Elliot once wrote - “It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them”.
In this moment of suffering and loneliness you are more truly alive than any of the people who oppress you. At this moment when human rights in Azerbaijan stand on a knife edge your courage and commitment is a lesson to us all. You have never been afraid to challenge the many human rights abuses which are so deeply entrenched in your country. You have always used your freedom to work against injustice.
It is doubly ironic that you, as Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), an organisation promoting the rule of law, and involved
in conflict resolution and peace-building between Azerbaijan and Armenia, should be the target of such a legal charade.
Let us state clearly, if the court finds you guilty, this will be a judgement not on you, but on the government which denies you both freedom and justice. When they deny you the medical treatment you so badly need they display only their own lack of humanity. When they try to justify your imprisonment on the basis of some spurious charges, they prove only the moral bankruptcy of the system over which they preside.
No prison cell has ever managed to crush the power of an idea and it is the power of ideas that the tyrant fears most of all and why he sees you as such a threat. In targeting you and your husband, as well as many other human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, he shows how much he fears the truth. Remember Leyla, that all idols have feet of clay, and this tyranny like many before it, will eventually crumble and fall.
Your survival will be a triumph over the system and your voice will be a reminder to all the other human rights defenders in Azerbaijan not to give up. Meanwhile we can only hope that the Government of Azerbaijan will finally understand the moral outrage and disgust at your treatment felt by the international community.
Next Tuesday is the anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. In accordance with the Declaration, to which Azerbaijan is a party, we call on them to free you so that you can recover your health.
Front Line Defenders