Azerbaijan: Ismayilova Writes New Letter From Jail

Khadija Ismayilova, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and OCCRP investigative journalist detained in Azerbaijan, has written a letter sharply criticizing the government of Azerbaijan and the West’s inaction in the face of human rights abuses.

Khadija IsmayilovaThe letter, which was first posted on the Free Khadija Facebook page, claims that the United States and European Union (EU) are condoning the abuses in Azerbaijan for a variety of reasons, including scoring geopolitical points against Russia.

While Ismayilova calls Russia a “dictatorship,” she criticizes the West for turning to Russia’s “sister regime” led by President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan as an alternative source of oil and gas.  She claims that Azerbaijan has copied many of Russia’s repressive policies in order to shut down non-governmental organizations and independent media, silencing critics of the government.

As Ismayilova points out, international pressure is growing on Western diplomats and dignitaries visiting Azerbaijan to challenge Aliyev on the arrest of journalists and human rights activists.  Yet, she says, as trade relations with Azerbaijan grow, the US and EU seem more willing to “forget about its lack of democracy, political prisoners, [and] human rights issues.”

Ismayilova has been detained in Azerbaijan since Dec. 5, and stands accused of a number of charges stemming from her employment with RFE/FL, including running an illegal business, embezzlement, abuse of power and tax evasion. She dismisses these charges, and numerous international observers and watchdogs have called her arrest politically motivated.