27 May: 40 protests for Khadija Ismayilova’s 40th birthday
Join the Sport for Rights campaign in organising 40 protests to help mark the 40th birthday of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova
31 Mar 16

Khadija Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova

Recently-released Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova was due to mark her 40th birthday in prison on Friday 27 May 2016, but she was released two days prior during her appeal. However, several charges against her remain.

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.

The real reason for Ismayilova’s imprisonment, however, was her investigative journalism. For many years, Ismayilova has been one of very few journalists in Azerbaijan 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.

To mark Ismayilova’s birthday, call for all charges against her to be quashed and for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Azerbaijan, the Sport for Rights campaign is collaborating with other networks to coordinate a series of parallel protests in cities around the world. The campaign is aiming for the symbolic number of 40 protests but will need your help.

If you are concerned by Ismayilova’s case and want to take a stand for human rights in Azerbaijan, please consider organising a peaceful protest in your city. The action can be large or small, traditional or creative, in any legally permissible spot you choose. Please get in touch through the event page or email [email protected] to discuss details. Sport for Rights will share details on the various actions by city closer to the date.

When: Friday 27 May 2016
Where: Global. Click here for updates
Get involved: If you are interested in organising a vigil, email [email protected]

By Rebecca Vincent

Rebecca Vincent is a human rights activist and former U.S. diplomat. She currently coordinates the Sport for Rights campaign.