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A PRISONER OF THE TRUTH

04-06-2009

Eynulla Fetullayev

We take press freedom for granted in this country, but as Simon Ware reports, elsewhere in the world, publishing the truth can be a criminal offence.

On Tuesday, in my capacity as Amnesty’s Representative in the West Midlands, I attended the Amnesty International Media Awards at the BFI Southbank in London. The awards are held each year to recognise the achievements of journalists who have shone a light on human rights abuses.

The fact there are so many brave and outstanding journalists nominated for the various awards gave me hope. Despite the harrowing tales there was a reason to feel positive and upbeat because even in the darkest corners of the world there are no hiding places for those who abuse people’s human rights.

The award that particularly moved me was the Special Award for Journalism Under Threat. This year’s Award went to Eynulla Fetullayev, an Azerbaijani newspaper editor who has been jailed for eight and a half years after criticising the government. His conviction was on politically motivated charges of libel, and trumped-up ones of terrorism, tax evasion and ethnic hatred. His imprisonment came after years of harassment including beatings, threats and libel suits.

His father sent a moving statement to be read out, in which he said ‘Every person has a vocation. Eynulla's vocation is to be a journalist. He misses work very much - a person who was occupied with journalism from morning to evening, he has been in prison for two years. He is in prison for the truth, and I think that, when he comes out, he will continue his work in that direction.'

To see someone imprisoned for speaking out saddened me yet Eynulla’s courage in doing so despite the risks inspired me. I would therefore like to ask you as individuals who care about the pursuit of truth and justice to use your freedom to take action for Eynulla Fetullayev. You can do this by visiting www.amnesty.org.uk/fatullayev

To find out more about Amnesty International locally please visit the Central Birmingham Amnesty International blog at www.amnestybham.wordpress.com

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