Azerbaijan has an ongoing repression against journalists and human rights activists. On April 16, human rights activist was sentenced to six and a half years in prison colony on charges of illegal business fraud, reports Voice of America. MYMEDIA keeps on following the tragic events and supports the Azerbaijani media activists.
Metropolitan Court in Baku accused Rasul Dzafarov of financial embezzlement, illegal business, tax evasion, abuse of power and fraud. Dzafarov denies all the charges, and his lawyer called the verdict illegal and politically motivated and expressed his intention to appeal against it.
Thirty-years old Dzafarov has been helping with organizing various legal campaigns, including "Sing For Democracy" in 2013 during the Eurovision Song Contest in order to attract international attention to the problems of human rights in the country. He was arrested last August.
OSCE called Dzafarov’s arrest a flagrant violation of human rights and freedom of speech.
"This is a systematic and widespread persecution of independent voices in Azerbaijan, and it is an obvious deviation from the fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression,” states Miyatovich.
In addition, she notes that more than 10 bloggers and social media activists were arrested, and this number is one of the highest among the 57 member states of the OSCE.
In general, during 2014, at least 33 human rights, political and civil society activists, journalists and bloggers were detained in Azerbaijan on political grounds, and many were forced to flee the country or go into hiding, reports Human Rights Watch. Authorities froze the bank accounts of independent activists and their leaders, stopped their work while refusing to register the foreign grants, and they also banned some activists from leaving the country.
Among other convicted media activists, there are radio reporter Khadija Ismailova, columnist Seymour Azi, bloggers Omar Mamedov, Abdul Abilovi, Rashad Ramazanov, journalist Parviz Hashimi, and editor Nidzhat Aliyev.
Chairman of the Institute of Freedom and Safety of Reporters Emin Huseyno was forced into hiding, and at the same time, he was accused of tax evasion, illegal transactions and abuse of power.
Human rights organizations accused the government in enhancing the campaign to silence the opposition since the president Ilham Aliyev was elected to a third term in 2013.
Aliyev became the president of Azerbaijan in 2003, after the elections, which, according to international observers, had various violations. He came to power after the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former Soviet KGB officer and leader of the communist era who led independent Azerbaijan since 1993.
This award is given to the writers around the world who have had to endure the distress while fighting for freedom of speech.
Ismailova will be awarded on May 5, after five months from the day she was imprisoned in Baku on December 5, 2014. She was covering financial fraud and corruption schemes of president Aliyev’s family members and attracted international attention to violations of human rights in Azerbaijan. At first, she was charged in almost forcing her colleague to kill oneself, and then, in a closed trial, she was convicted of slander, embezzlement, tax evasion and other crimes.
Despite her conviction, Ismailova continued writing letters from prison where she described the hardships of her detention and ill-treatment and kept on criticizing Aliyev at the same time.