Monday, September 9, 2013
Personally Smeared for Uncovering Corruption in Azerbaijan
By: Divya Achtani
Azerbaijan is one of the Caucasus countries found in Eurasia. While the country is flourishing in wealth from their crude oil and natural gas reserves, the government is very corrupt, and it is not very attentive to human rights.
Khadija Ismayilova is an investigative journalist in Azerbaijan, and she spends her days revealing the country’s corruption. Because of our strong efforts, Khadija has been threatened many times by the government, including a secret video camera being placed in her room. A few years ago, Khadija worked on a CNBC feature uncovering Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev’s expensive Dubai properties. Soon after, an intimate video from her bedroom was released on a fake news website. In a conservative country like Azerbaijan, this type of video is not favorable, and it also violates a basic right to privacy. In addition to the video, articles creating claims that Khadija had an Armenian background were released, and because of conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, this fake label makes her a disgrace to the country.
Khadija is one of the many examples of people in Azerbaijan and similar conservative countries that has been affected by the human rights violations of speech and expression. In these countries, governments threaten and punish those who oppose the government’s views. Authorities can even put activists in prison based on bogus charges and get away with it. As an American who was always been taught the rights which are my own, I was very appalled after learning about the practices violating expressive human rights in other countries. Here in the United States, we have freedom of speech and freedom of expression outlined in our Bill of Rights. Our legal system is fair, and if authorities were caught violating these rights, they would be the ones in trouble. I can’t even imagine how strong journalists in countries with corrupt governments have to be in order to publish their work.
In the case of Khadija, her entire personal life was released via video to the country. Her right to privacy was obviously violated, but yet, she was in even more danger because of the government’s conservative nature. A long time ago, people would be sent to watch over government opposition, but in today's world of technology, the case is very different. Nowadays, recordings and videos of activists can be taken in secret, and then released with the click of a button. This easy access leads to a great amount of blackmail, and of course, invasion of privacy.
Journalists in countries like Azerbaijan can be threatened or imprisoned at any time, but yet, they still work hard to uncover the inner workings of a crazy government. Every person should have the right to say what they want whenever they want- they have a right to their own opinion! They shouldn't have to worry about people blackmailing them with videos or brutal punishments. We as a world need to take action to fight against these government practices and for human rights!