November 11, in Munich, Human Rights Watch honored Khadija Ismayil for her extraordinary courage as a journalist. The award was accepted by Khadija's friend, Arzu Geybulla.
Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Khadija is one of the six recipients of Alison Des Forges Award for extraordinary activism. Other recipients include Yara Bader (Syria), Father Bernard Kinvi (CAR). Bottom: Nicholas Opiyo (Uganda), Nisha Ayub (Malaysia), and Dr. M.R. Rajagopal (India).
The award is named for Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser at Human Rights Watch for almost two decades, who died in a plane crash in New York State on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world’s leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath. The Human Rights Watch annual award honors her outstanding commitment to, and defense of, human rights. It celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
Speaking about Khadija Ismayil's work, Giorgi Gogia, the South Caucasus Director at Human Rights Watch said, "Khadija Ismayilova is an investigative journalist who deserves to be recognized as a person who dedicated her life to exposing government corruption. And she keeps fighting for justice for everyone else. This award once again recognizes her for outstanding activism and intended to publicize her case".
Although Khadija herself was unable to accept the award, Gogia in an interview with AzadliqRadiosu reminded the audience that thousands of people around globe think of her, remember her and get inspired by what she has done and continue to do.
"This award was really important for Khadija but it was even more imporant for Azerbaijan", said Rachel Denber, who is the Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. "When we heard Khadija's words she said back in Strasbourg when she was stil free we really got the sense for her charisma, dedication, [and the award tonight] made the 200 people instantly care", added Denber in an interview with AzadliqRadiosu shortly after the award ceremony.
Khadija Ismayil was arrested on December 5, 2014. She was sentenced on September 1, 2015 to seven and a half years in jail.