WASHINGTON — Human rights and media activists say Azerbaijan’s crackdown on civil society has continued unabated, as they cited the imprisonment of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
Ismayilova, who is also a RFE/RL contributor based in Baku, was sentenced in September to seven 1/2 years in prison on charges widely seen as trumped up.
Speaking at a December 16 hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Amnesty International advocate T. Kumar said authorities have used “any tactic under the sun” to target journalists like Ismayilova.
Shelly Han, a commission staff member who attended a recent Ismayilova court hearing, said the civil society community has been subdued, but has been inspired by Ismayilova’s defiance.
Earlier, the commission chairman, Representative Chris Smith, said he was introducing a bill that would deny U.S. visas to senior Azerbaijan's officials due to "appalling human rights violations."
The commission is U.S. government agency that monitors international adherence to the 1975 Helsinki Accords on human rights.