Jailed Azerbaijani journalist and Truthdig Global Voices contributor Khadija Ismayilova. (Aziz Karimov / AP)

Multiple award-winning Azerbaijani journalist, former Truthdigger of the Week and Truthdig Global Voices contributor Khadija Ismayilova has been imprisoned for six months for reporting abuses of power by her country’s ruling family. On the opening day of the European Games in the capital Baku, she appealed to the international community to recognize the rot behind Azerbaijan’s polished appearance and demand the release of political prisoners.

In a letter smuggled out of prison and published in The New York Times, Ismayilova wrote:

I am a journalist, in jail for my work exposing corruption at the highest levels of the Azerbaijani government. I have been targeted, along with dozens of other political prisoners — fellow journalists, human rights defenders, youth activists, politicians and others — for telling the truth about the situation in my country. Azerbaijan’s best and brightest have been locked up, tucked away for the European Games. They didn’t want you to see or hear us and our inconvenient truths.

The truth is that Azerbaijan is in the midst of a human rights crisis. Things have never been worse. As those at the top continue to profit from corruption, ordinary people are struggling to work, struggling to live, struggling for freedom. And we must struggle with them, for them.

I am carrying on my struggle here, from jail. My investigations into corruption continue, thanks to the help of dedicated colleagues. I have been punished for speaking out from jail, placed into solitary confinement, and prevented from seeing my family and lawyers. My notes have been seized from my cell. As I have said before, if this is the price to pay, it is worth it.

Today, I say to the international community: Do not let the government of Azerbaijan distract your attention from its record of corruption and abuse. Keep fighting for human rights, for those who are silenced. Keep fighting for right, and for good. Be loud, and be public. The people of Azerbaijan need to know that their rights are supported.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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