Georgia: Tbilisi Protest Demands Khadija Release

A crowd of around 60 human rights activists and journalists demonstrated Wednesday afternoon outside the Azerbaijan Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, calling on the Azerbaijani government to release journalist and longtime OCCRP partner Khadija Ismayilova.

At least one embassy official looked on with security police during the peaceful rally. Ismayilova is currently serving a two-month pretrial detention on charges she caused a former co-worker to attempt suicide. The arrest caps years of harassment directed against Ismayilova, a vocal critic of the Azerbaijan government.

Among the signs protesting her confinement and human rights violations was one simple placard: “Freedom Is More Important Than Gas”.  Azerbaijan has steadily increased its market share of gas for heating in Georgia in recent years, and the state-owned oil company SOCAR is Georgia’s largest commercial taxpayer.