Award-winning Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who hosts a daily program for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, has been held in pretrial detention in Baku since December 5 after being accused of encouraging a man to commit suicide -- a charge that has been broadly condemned as a flagrant attempt to silence her critical voice.
She is widely perceived to have often been the target of harassment and intimidation by the Azerbaijani government and pro-government forces for months because of her groundbreaking investigations into corruption at the highest levels of power, including President Ilham Aliyev and his family.
Ismayilova was able to send this brief note from jail to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.
The letter has been edited for style and grammar.
My dear friends!
Here in pretrial detention, my thoughts are with you. My only regret is that here I am restricted from helping you.
You are doing an important job helping oppressed people. Happy New Year to you and all like-minded people.
A photo of Khadija Ismayilova's letter from Kurakhani prison (click to enlarge)
I am full of hope on the eve of this New Year that truth and justice will win.
Arrests and restrictions are part of our mission in telling the truth. My arrest proves one more time that it is important to make change happen: We need to build a new reality where truth will be a norm of life and telling the truth will not require courage.
You all know why I am here in prison. Uncovering corruption is the real reason. And the only way to prove oppressive regimes wrong is to continue uncovering corruption, to continue defending the rights of oppressed people. Yes, there is a price to pay. But it is worth it!
As Nazim Hikmet, the Turkish poet, wrote: "Those who carry the teardrops of their siblings as a heavy burden upon their neck shouldn't follow our path."
Keep doing a good job!
More investigations, more efforts for justice and human rights -- this is my wish for 2015.