The case of Khadija Ismayilova and her supporting cast: A troubling reality, an inspiring response
May 1, NY: Every year, on World Press Freedom Day, the world acknowledges how the media help turn that right into a reality.
World. Press. Freedom. Three big, abstract words. But when press freedom is constrained, the impact is far from abstract. The rights of journalists to seek, receive and impart information and ideas are intimately connected to our right to do the same.
Consider three more words: Abuse of power. Whether or not you believe that power corrupts, when those in power happen to be corrupt, they have a multitude of means to keep their secrets firmly under the carpet. There is an ongoing war between their desire to hide corruption and the media's desire to uncover it.
The numbers can be staggering. Nearly 800 journalists killed in the last 10 years, in the course of their work. 199 were jailed in 2015 alone. And for every death there are countless others who are harassed, threatened, or attacked.
Behind the numbers are real individuals at risk – and beside them are real individuals who work to defend their rights. So today we single out one journalist, and the many who have taken on her cause.
Khadija Ismayilova is an award-winning investigative journalist who started uncovering corruption within Azerbaijan's governing family. She is currently serving a 7.5-year prison sentence.
Khadija – the recipient of UNESCO's prestigious 2016 Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize – is a relatively high profile case. As we go to publish, she is still imprisoned – but her voice continues to resonate.
From the moment she was first harassed in 2011, to her current imprisonment, individuals and groups around the world have stepped up to defend her rights and the principle of press freedom that is at stake.
The Oslo Times