A fathers plea to Prince Andrew
Amnesty has been campaigning for Eynulla Fətullayev, a wrongly-imprisoned newspaper editor from Azerbaijan, for some time now. Today his father – who has received death threats after campaigning for his son’s release issued an impassioned appeal to Prince Andrew to intervene on behalf of his son.
This follows reports that Prince Andrew is friends with the country’s President Ilham Aliyev.
Emin Fətullayev, Eynulla’s father, told Amnesty:
“The government of Azerbaijan is persecuting my son for writing the truth. They have smeared his name, called him a drug addict, and taken away his liberty. All I want is for my son to be released from prison – he has done nothing wrong. He is a good journalist.
“I have received many messages of support from people in the UK who believe in free speech. But Prince Andrew could actually help my son. The Prince is friends with President Aliyev, so maybe he will listen to him. As one father to another, I am asking him to speak with President Aliyev and urge him to release my son Eynulla.”
Eynulla was sentenced on 6 July 2010 to two and a half years imprisonment for possessing heroin, charges that we think were fabricated by the authorities. Eynulla was already serving an eight and a half year prison sentence on trumped-up charges dating from 2007.
Eynulla is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned in an attempt to silence his critical reporting of the government.
We’re asking people to write directly to President Aliyev and appeal for Eynulla’s release, at www.amnesty.org.uk/eynulla.
He’s not the only one suffering from the crackdown on freedom of expression in the country, though – far from it. Street protests in Azerbaijan are effectively banned and newspapers can be shut down for saying the wrong thing. For years, Independent journalists like Eynulla have been harassed and jailed on trumped-up charges, and beaten by police.
- Journalist Emin Hüseynov was been allegedly beaten so badly by police, with their fists and the butt of a gun, that he spent three days in intensive care.
- Aqil Xalil from Azadliq newspaper was stabbed in the chest in 2008 and attacked again later that year. Although the authorities claimed they had found a perpetrator, Azerbaijani human rights organisations believe that the true assailants escaped justice.
- Elmar Hüseynov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Monitor, was shot dead in 2005. Six years on, no one has been brought to justice. Huseynov was known for his criticism of high-ranking officials in Azerbaijan .
We’ve even had to issue an appeal for a youth activist who was arrested after a Facebook posting calling for Egypt-style protests: During the court hearing, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev managed to pass a letter to his lawyer. The letter said that whilst in custody, police questioned him about his Facebook activity, then punched him, strangled him, twisted his arms and applied manual pressure to his face until his mouth bled. They also threatened him with rape. In protest against his treatment he began a hunger strike.
President Aliyev should stop trying to silence his own people and start respecting their rights.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.