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Stealing news from Azerbaijan.
Eynulla Fatullayev’s first published article since his release from prison.
I’ve been free for some time now. The idea of freedom seems far-fetched, strange, alien to my mind. I find it difficult to take freedom for granted, because my perception of it is still a struggle for freedom, which completely engulfed my consciousness in a place where there was no sun and moon, no sunrise and sunset, no life, no death…
I have lost all sense of time; it’s so hard, yet so easy for me to feel the call of the times again. Call of the times… I seem to understand that the primary blame is on the government. It took away my freedom. I fought for the future, they fought for the past – which always seems to be the present to them. Time and the burden of responsibility separate us, and between us is the deepest abyss: there lie the remains of our destroyed freedom.
Since the day I was freed, I have felt like the prisoner of some mythological, forced freedom. In my new life I am trying to find the answer to another question: can a person find freedom in an unfree country?
And how does someone who has found unexpected but sacred freedom continue to live in an unfree country? Maybe we are still unable to really grasp and understand freedom, the fundamental value of the grand old lady Europe, because we pine away and continue to suffer in the clutches of Asian rulers, armed as always with the Tatar Horde whip? But in our eyes, this bloody whip crackles and breaks up under the feet of Arab intelligentsia which, with a lungful of Europe’s freedom, decided to do away with the ghost of the despotic caliphate that once rebelled against the anointed lords, “saviors” and “liberators” of the enslaved peoples. So, it’s worth living and believing. Living and fighting. Maybe our faith will hasten the day of deliverance.
For now, we have the day of the deliverance of just one Azeri, one journalist, one person. From the day of my release, I have incessantly repeated this aphorism coined by Azeri dissidents:
“Unlike the European who continues to struggle for victory, the Azeri stops the fight after his first disappointment.”
We must learn from Europeans the philosophy of peaceful and nonviolent struggle for the triumph of our values – for someone who shares Azerbaijan and Europe is doomed to a terrible and monstrous oil curse.
I have been delivered and with a deep sense of gratitude I want to address my saviors – Thomas Hammarberg and Tornbornu Jagland, Miklos Haraszti and Dunja Mijatovic , Peter Semneby and Matthew Bryza, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Helsinki Group, and finally to all my colleagues from Western countries, and again I want to thank you – for helping me feel time, for helping me see the Sun…
Of course, had it not been for you, had it not been for the Council of Europe, perhaps someday, many years later, I would touch freedom. But with your help we brought that day closer – you did not let them erase me and turn me into dust. You turned a fairytale into reality.
So can a free man live in an unfree country? He can. If he believes in a fairytale where Evil never triumphs.
By Eynulla Fatullayev.
Original in Russian here [RFE/RL Blogs]
On 26 May president Ilham Aliyev signed a pardon decree. Editor-in-chief of “Realny Azerbaijan” and “Gundelik Azerbaycan” newspapers is among the 84 people on the list.
In an interview to Azadliq Radiosu (RFE/RL Azeri service), Eynulla Fatulayev’s father Emin Fatullayev said how happy he was to hear that his son has been freed: “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. We’re very happy. I will go to see him tomorrow.”
In an interview he gave to Azadliq Radiosu upon leaving prison, Eynulla Fatullayev said that he is still trying to process what has happened. He said that, considering the reality of the situation in Azerbaijan, the pardon is both miraculous and legally justified.
Fatullayev says that he did not address anyone for the pardon: “I never made a plea for a pardon, but two months ago I wrote a letter addressed personally to Ilham Aliyev. In that letter I mentioned our national moral values, and thought that he would release me after that. This is the first time I’ve spoken about this, and somewhere it prompted a reaction. In fact my release is a result of that immediate reaction.”
Eynulla Fatullayev thanked international and national organizations, journalists and public representatives for his freedom.
Upon being asked whether he will continue to be active as a journalist, he said that this does not depend on him: “If there is a guarantee on my life and activity, I will remain in Azerbaijan and work.”
Audronius Ažubalis (OSCE representative and Lithuania’s minister of foreign affairs) and Dunja Mijatović (OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media) have welcomed the news of Eynulla Fatullayev’s pardon. Audroniuns Ažubalis said that this is an important signal to all countries within the OSCE, and called on all member states to comply with their commitments to freedom of the media and release all imprisoned journalists.
Matthew Bryza also phoned Eynulla Fatullayev to congratulate him upon his release.
Original in Azeri here [RFE/RL].
After coming out of solitary confinement on 31 March, Eynulla Fatullayev wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice Fikrat Mammadov. His lawyer Anar Gasimov informs Azadliq Radiosu: “In the letter, Eynulla asks the minister for a helmet, a stab-proof vest, and a firearm. Basically he is asking the minister for a guard so as to ensure his safety.”
Anar Gasimov says that by staying in solitary confinement for a month, Eynulla was trying to protest the injustices against him, but this had no result. He adds that if Eynulla is not freed, he will petition for the court to allow him to serve the remaining part of the sentence with a light punishment.
Editor-in-chief of “Gundelik Azerbaycan” (AZ: Daily Azerbaijan) and “Realny Azerbaijan” (RU: Real Azerbaijan) newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev has been in prison for four years.