Birthday Cake for released Azerbaijani Journalist
Updated, May 25 2016, 17:00
Prague, May 25, 2016 - On Friday May 27th, a celebration of well-known Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s 40th birthday will be held on the Old Town Square in Prague. However, she will not be able to the blow out the candles on the cake herself. Although Baku Supreme Court ordered her release on Wednesday, May 25, the journalist has been given a suspended term of 3,5 years and will be subject to a travel ban and other restrictions.
Ms. Ismayilova was held in prison for 1,5 year as a result of her investigative journalistic work. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in a show trial for alleged tax evasion, illegal business activities and abuse of power.
This happening "Cake for Khadija" will be held on the day of her fortieth birthday on the corner of Celetná Street and Old Town Square. "At 1 p.m. we will light the candles on the cake and from a distance we will wish Khadija happy birthday and all the best," says Ivana Skálová, the head of East European program in People in Need, which is organizing the event. "Khadija needs our support, as do about 80 other people who the Aliyev regime has unjustly imprisoned. The knowledge that the world is interested in their cases gives them greater strength to face their difficult situation," she added. Passers-by, who join in the celebration and write a greeting card to Khadija, will be able to enjoy a piece of the birthday cake.
The event is taking place as part of an international campaign to promote human rights in Azerbaijan called Sport for Rights. Similar events will be held symbolically in 40 major cities around the world such as Berlin, Paris, London, Washington, Istanbul, Moscow and Minsk, as well as in Brno, where a similar event is being organized by NESEHNUTÍ in the Moravian Square near the Statue of Justice starting at 8:30 a.m.
Khadija Ismayilova is a journalist and prominent presenter of the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. In 2015, she was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison based on trumped-up charges for alleged tax evasion and illegal business activities and abuse of power. She was released on probation on May 25 by Baku Supreme Court.
Her imprisonment was the price that she had to pay as a result of her groundbreaking investigative work that revealed the clandestine business relations of the ruling family of President Ilham Aliyev. She has continued to write even behind bars. In one of her letters from prison soon after her conviction she wrote: "The only way to prove the wickedness of a repressive regime, is to continue uncovering their corruption and to continue to defend the rights of the oppressed. Yes, the individual will pay a certain price, but it's worth it."
In 2015, she received from the worldwide association of writers the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award for her courage and outstanding investigative work.
Videos about Khadija Ismayilova:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb4naW1EcKo (Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is counsel for investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Amal Clooney explains who is Khadija Ismayilova and why she is defending her case before the European Court of Human Rights)
The Situation in Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucus that has been ruled through harsh repression by the Aliyev family for decades. The dictatorship’s power has been built upon the country’s oil reserves. The country is famous for its manipulation of elections, suppression of freedom of speech, elimination of unwanted NGOs, persecution of independent journalists and imprisonment of political opponents. In 2014, the Azerbaijani authorities significantly increased the level of pressure against its many opponents and critics, as a result many of these dissidents were detained and sentenced to harsh prison terms on trumped-up charges. In the spring of 2016, the regime released a number of their political prisoners, however, about 80 of them remain behind bars.
For more information:
Adela Pospíchalová, (tel.): 777 787 968, email@example.com