Azerbaijan: Brussels event to celebrate journalist’s release and call for the release of other prisoners

First photo of Khadija after her release shared by her on social media. By Meydan TV.
First photo of Khadija after her release shared by her on social media. By Meydan TV.

Update on 25 May 2016: We are happy and relieved that Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismaiylova has now been released from prison! She was released today after Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court ruled to reduce her 7.5-year prison sentence into a suspended one of 3.5 years.

The event planned to be held in Brussels on Friday 27 May 2016 as part of a global campaign coordinated by the Sport for Rights  initiative on the occasion of Khadija’s 40th birthday will nevertheless take place as planned. We will gather to celebrate Khadija’s release, as well as to call for her full acquittal and the release of those who still remain imprisoned on politically motivated grounds in Azerbaijan. This will be one of 40 events held in different cities this day/week. Join us!

Place: Schuman Place, Brussels
Time: Friday 27 May, 14:00-16:00

For more information, check out the event page on Facebook


Khadija Ismayilova will be marking her 40th birthday on  27 May 2016. She was arrested in December 2014 and subsequently sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on politically motivated charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of power. The real reason for her imprisonment, however, was her work as an investigative journalist. For many years, Khadija has been one of very few journalists in Azerbaijan remaining willing to explore risky topics like human rights abuses and corruption among Azerbaijan’s ruling elite. Her reporting shed light on many truths the Azerbaijani authorities would prefer to keep hidden, and she is paying a high price for her courageous work.

Khadija’s arrest took place against the backdrop of an unprecedented human rights crackdown in Azerbaijan, as authorities worked aggressively to silence criticism and restrict the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Dozens of political prisoners remain detained in Azerbaijani jails.