The letters will be printed out and sent to Penitentiary No. 17 where Hezi is detained.
Rahim Haciyev, acting editor of Azadliq newspaper, said Hezi’s health is suffering due to the prison conditions but he continues to write about the country’s recent political history.
Hezi was sentenced five years in prison in 2015 for “aggravated hooliganism”, according to Azadlıq Radiosu.
He was previously charged with disorderly conduct in 2014 after an altercation where the journalist defended himself from a physical assault and harassment, according to his lawyers.
The reason for Hezi’s imprisonment is seen as politically influenced due to his public activities. Haciyev said Hezi published critical articles of the authorities in the newspaper, along with critiques in his online TV broadcast “Azerbaijani Hour”.
The journalist’s family and lawyers say that his sentencing was politically motivated and biased. [/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2=”Take Action” color=”pink”]
Seymur Hezi was sentenced to five years in prison for “aggravated hooliganism” on 29 January 2015.
On the anniversary of Azerbaijani journalist Seymur Hezi’s sentencing to five years imprisonment for “aggravated hooliganism,” the country’s authorities have continued to target journalists, independent media and human rights activists.
Hezi, who contributed to the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award-winning newspaper Azadliq, was sentenced on 29 January 2015. He was arrested on 29 August 2014 following an altercation in which the journalist was defending himself from a physical assault and harassment, according to his lawyers.
Rahim Haciyev, acting editor of Azadliq, told Index in September 2015 Hezi’s prosecution was due to his critical articles of the Azerbaijan authorities in the newspaper, as well as critiques he had made in his online TV programme, Azerbaijan Hour.
Haciyev said Hezi’s health is “very bad” due to the Azerbaijan’s awful prison conditions. Despite this, he said the journalist is working on articles about the country’s recent political history — some of which have been published in Azadliq.
In Hezi’s final statement given during his trial, he noted his belief in the shared struggle “with my dear friends at prison”. He also said: “It is not just a confrontation between the government and the opposition. It is the struggle between the good and the evil.”
After a year activism and journalism dedicated to free expression within the restricting country, not much positive change can be seen. Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova remains in jail, doing everything in her power to continue spreading the message of truth and resistance. Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney recently offered to take Ismayilova’s case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Azadliq, which was one of Azerbaijan’s only remaining independent news outlets operating inside the country, was forced to discontinue publishing a daily print edition of the newspaper in July 2014, due to its financial situation. The paper was hit with enormous fines following multiple defamation suits in 2013, and its journalists — including Hezi — have been targeted by authorities with politically motivated charges.
“The repression and detainment of journalists are continuing,” Haciyev said. “[The] government has started to arrest Facebook activists.”
Haciyev said that because the government cannot solve its country’s main problems, they try to create new problems for society through eliminating any chance of other opinions being promoted.
Journalist Seymur Hezi, who works for Index award-winning Azadliq newspaper, is in prison awaiting trial. Hezi was arrested on trumped-up charges of hooliganism on 29 August 2014. The journalist denies the charges, says they are politically motivated and are linked to his work.
I feel good in the prison. I have no complaints in regard to my health and general mood. There is nothing different besides that I miss my friends and relatives. I think about what is going around and read much. I wouldn’t like to waste my time. I don’t know how much time I’ll spend here, so I don’t want to lose this period. My advice to the youth in freedom is that, wasting time for nothing is unacceptable, whatever the conditions are.
Sometimes I get some newspapers. Recently, I’ve read in one of them the letter Khadija Ismail wrote from the prison and I was impressed. Maybe, the very first reason is that we are very close here from the viewpoint of distance. Here, in Kurdakhany, the distance between us may be some 100 feet, only. Maybe, even less. The author of the letter is kept some 100 feet away me.
I possess strange feelings after reading her letter. The letter full of will and determination has been written by a woman. An Azerbaijani woman. You know that we had many of such determined and strong-willed women in our history. But such determination and will of struggle in a woman in prison… It is a true historical event. It is the history of our will, determination and decisiveness. Particularly, of our women…
Khadija Ismail is one of the greatest examples of righteousness truthfulness and the direct expression of true words. For her, there is only truth and nothing else and it is right, whatever the arguments are. It is right despite of all obstacles in front of her. She is being tested for it every single day.
I don’t know whether we owe it to extreme patriarchal state of our society or something else, expressing the power, endeavor and bravery of a woman, our fathers have always said: “Sheis a woman like a man”. Today, observing a woman like Khadija, we can change this saying. For expressing the manhood and will of a man, I would say: “He is a man like the Azerbaijani woman” or more correctly: “He is a man just like Khadija”.
My greetings to my friends and relatives. I kiss and hug all of you. Wish to reach beautiful days of freedom. Earlier or later, we will meet soon. I love you.
Azerbaijani journalist Seymur Hezi, who works for Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award-winning newspaper Azadliq, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for “aggravated hooliganism”, according to Azadlıq Radiosu.
“Index condemns the sentencing of Azerbaijani journalist Seymur Hezi, who was arrested last year on trumped up charges of disorderly conduct. The ‘crime’ for which he is actually being punished is journalism and his attempts to tell the truth about a brutal authoritarian regime that systematically stifles dissent,” Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg said.
Hezi’s sentencing is another sign of the continuing clampdown by Azerbaijan’s authoritarian government on civil society. Earlier this week, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova‘s pre-trial detention period was extended by a Baku court; other prominent human rights defenders who have been arrested in recent months include: Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, Anar Mammadli and Intigam Aliyev.
Hezi was arrested on August 29 2014 after an altercation in which the journalist said he was protecting himself from a physical assault and harassment, according to his lawyers.
Azadlıq Radiosu reported that Hezi’s lawyers and family are certain the arrest and the sentence are politically motivated and that Hezi is innocent.
His father, Meshqul Heziyev told Azadlıq Radiosu, “the hearing was biased and turned down all of the motions. At the end it simply carried out a politically motivated order”.
“Seymur Hezi’s arrest is a serious blow against our newspaper. He is one of the brightest Azerbaijani analysts and journalists, and a true intellectual,” Rahim Haciyev, acting editor of Azadliq newspaper, told Index at the time of Hezi’s arrest.
Haciyev said he is sure Hezi’s arrest is the result of a planned provocation and the journalist is prosecuted for publishing critical articles on the authorities in the newspaper, as well as in his online TV program “Azerbaijani Hour”, which he scripts and hosts.
In March 2011, Hezi was abducted and tortured by unidentified men. He was warned to keep quiet.
Seymur Hezi is also host of news programme “Azerbaijan Hour” and is a member of the opposition Popular Front Party.