Azerbaijan: Regime targets musician through his family

Harassing family members is a despicable tactic to intimidate those who dare speak out

06 Jan 2017

Azerbaijani rapper Jamal Ali’s family were summoned to questioning by the Baku State police. They have since been released.

“My mother and some other relatives are in Baku state police department now,” Ali wrote in a Facebook post on Friday 6 January.

The rapper has been under pressure to delete Heykəl Baba (Grandfather Monument), which is a song critical of the government.

Arresting family members or threatening them with arrest is a tactic Azerbaijani authorities have been using to intimidate those who dare speaking out and criticise the regime. Index strongly condemns this action and demands that the government of Ilham Aliyev respect freedom of expression,” Melody Patry, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, said.

In November, Ali, who lives in exile, spoke about the situation in Azerbaijan at the Oslo concert of Norwegian musician Moddi. He told the crowd that “When people decide to speak out in my country they can end up in jail.”

After severe pressure on his family members, Ali reluctantly removed the video from public view on his YouTube channel. However the video is still available on other channels.

This article was updated on 10 January 2017.

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