Target: Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan
Goal: End harassment campaign against journalist who criticized the government
Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist who has written articles criticizing the Azerbaijani government and has worked to expose human rights violations in the country, has been subject to a long campaign of harassment and fears she may soon be arrested as a result of her work. Demand that the authorities in Azerbaijan respect her freedom of expression and end all harassment against her.
The harassment Ismayilova has suffered has taken many different forms, both government-sponsored and otherwise. In 2012, she received a letter than contained pictures of her having sex, obtained when blackmailers put hidden cameras in her home. More recently, she has been brought up on criminal charges of defamation by a man who claims she exposed his status as an informant. While Ismayilova did obtain and release a document containing information on the identities of informants, she erased personal information, including names, from the document before publicizing it. Another copy of the document, this one without the names erased, was uploaded to the internet around the same time. Ismayilova denies having anything to do with the release of the second document.
Officially, Ismayilova is subject to a travel ban that prevented her from attending a recent human rights conference in Prague. On her last entry back into Azerbaijan following a trip to France, she was searched and detained at the airport for four hours. This campaign of both official and non-official harassment against Ismayilova must end. Sign the petition below to demand that authorities lift the travel ban against Ismayilova, move her defamation case from criminal to civil court, and prosecute anyone found to be harassing her.
Dear President Aliyev,
I am writing to demand an end to the harassment that journalist Khadija Ismayilova has suffered over the past two years. Her rights to freedom of expression and freedom of press must be respected, and she must not face repercussions for her journalism, no matter how unpopular it may be with authorities.
Ismayilova has been the target of harassment and intimidation from both private citizens and government agencies. In 2012, she was blackmailed with pictures of her having sex. The pictures were obtained via hidden cameras that had been installed in her home. More recently, she is facing criminal charges of defamation in a case brought against her by a private citizen, an informant who claims Ismayilova exposed him. Ismayilova denies having released the version of the document that named the man as an informant.
The state has contributed to Ismayilova’s harassment by issuing a travel ban that prevented her from attending a recent human rights conference in Prague and, prior to the ban, by detaining and searching her at the airport for four hours upon her return from a trip to France.
Ismayilova has the right to carry out her journalism and activism free from threats and harassment. I urge you to drop the travel ban against her, to investigate those accused of blackmailing and harassing her, and to move her defamation case from criminal court to civil court in line with recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons