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2021, 06 Avqust, Cümə, Bakı vaxtı 02:18

The Case of Khadija Ismayilova

Azerbaijan. Baku. RFERL journalist Khadija Ismayil

Khadija Ismayilova was arrested December 5, based on article 125 of the Criminal Court (inciting to suicide).

Statements byAzerbaijani officials

Ali Hasanov, the Head of the Social-Political Relations department at the Presidential Administration, is certain Khadija Ismayilova was arrested for a "very concrete criminal act". Accusing the outcry condemning Ismayilova’s arrest both at home and abroad as “one-sided and biased” Hasanov hinted of an orchestrated effort “from one center”. Following recent remarks by the head of the presidential apparatus Ramiz Mehdiyev denouncing Western democracy assistance in Azerbaijan, the “center” is likely to be the West, if not the U.S. in particular. “There are no journalists in Azerbaijan who have been arrested for their journalism, political views, or opinions. This will continue to be this way” said Mr. Hasanov.

Chief of Justice Ministry's human rights and public affairs department
Chief of Justice Ministry's human rights and public affairs department

In an interview with Faig Gurbanov, head of the human rights and public relations department at the Ministry of Justice said, there is a "clear complaint" against Khadija Ismayil. He dismissed any connection between her arrest and her investigative work. “This is an unhealthy way of thinking [to say] someone is arrested not for their committed deed but for [their] work. Khadija Ismayil isn’t the only investigative journalist in Azerbaijan. There are others as well. If they don’t commit concerned crimes they don’t get arrested. [In her case] there is a specific complaint” said Gurbanov to Radio Azadliq. Gurbanov is absolutely certain that the Western criticism of Azerbaijan’s dismal human rights record is done to discredit Azerbaijan.

Similarly to Mr. Hasanov, Azer Gasimov, the Press-secretary of the President Aliyev called recent accusations against the country's human rights record "biased and non-objective". "Instead" said Gasimov, "the U.S. State Department should focus on racial discrimination, police violence [...] and other incidents occuring in their own country". The Press-Secretary reitarated Azerbaijan's exemplary experience adding "Azerbaijan has never prosecuted any of its citizens as well as any mass media representatives over freedom of speech. They have never suffered from pressure by any official authority. Azerbaijan so far attained great achievements in fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as freedoms of expression and opinion within a short time."

According to the international human rights groups currently there are 98 political prisoners in Azerbaijan of which 13 are journalists and/or bloggers.

Journalist. Afgan Mukhtarli
Journalist. Afgan Mukhtarli

Earlier today, local reporters say food brought for Khadija was denied at the prison facility she is being held at today. Afgan Mukhtarli, journalist and close friend, said Khadija’s relatives were told food is accepted only once a week.

Khadija has dietary restrictions due to an operation she had last year.

In an attempt to draw more attention to the arrest of Khadija Ismayilova a series of protest actions are planned. On December 8, a protest-action is planned in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington DC called “I stand with Khadija Ismayilova + Call on the Government of Azerbaijan to Free Her Immediately!" On December 10 a solidarity action is planned in Tbilisi, Georgia.