Center for Investigative Journalism organized a new protest in solidarity with Khadija Ismayilova. Participants demanded acquittal of journalist
Foto: CIJM

Center for Investigative Journalism organized on Friday, May 27, on the 40th birthday of Khadija Ismayilova, a protest in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Chisinau. The Azerbaijani journalist, sentenced in Baku, has been recently released from prison. Participants in the flash mob demanded acquittal of the journalist and release of  all journalists and other political prisoners. Journalists and civic activists participated in the protest. This event is part of the campaign "40 protests for Khadija Ismayilova's 40th birthday!", initiated by Sport for Rights.

“No journalist or any other person should be imprisoned for doing one’s job, for telling things by their names or for defending values. Freedom of speech and freedom of press are values in a democratic state and the level of democracy of a country is determined by the degree of freedom of press and speech. Azerbaijan must review its policy to media and avoid the imprisonment of journalists for doing their job”, said Cornelia Cozonac, president of the Center for Investigative Journalism.

Alina Radu, director of newspaper Ziarul de Garda said that the authorities in the Republic of Moldova should take attitude and investigate the incident by which the CIJM team was ordered to remove the banner that was displayed on the balcony of its office, located right next to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Moldova. "The Moldovan government must respond to the petition of CIJM, to explain over the embassy’s interference in the activity of an NGO.  We should receive a reply from the diplomatic mission", said Alina Radu.

“The Interior Ministry did not take any attitude and the Foreign Ministry said in a phone call that they discussed with representatives of the Embassy, but they could not  take other measures because we did not provide enough details about this case. We further condemn the behavior of the representative of Azerbaijan Embassy; we will talk about this case to prevent such situations in the Republic of Moldova. Nobody has the right to intimidate journalists”, said Cornelia Cozonac.

Other 39 protests are organized throughout the world to support the journalist. Independent journalist Khadija Ismayilova collaborated with Azeri service of Radio Free Europe. She was arrested in December 2014, Khadija was serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence in Azerbaijan on politically motivated charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power. Recently, Azerbaijan's Supreme Court ruled to replace that with a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence and ordered her release on probation.