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Human Rights Defenders

Ordinary people who work at great personal risk to defend the rights of their communities

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Front Line Defenders works to protect human rights defenders,
our everyday heroes.

HRD Spotlight: Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan

About the Situation

On 25 May 2016, Azerbaijani journalist and human rights defender Khadija Ismayilova was released on probation, after spending 537 days in jail. The Azerbaijani Supreme Court, however, did not drop the indictment against her. Khadija is still facing 3.5 years in probation, a two-year ban on professional activity, a travel ban and other restrictions.

Khadija is a prominent journalist and well known for her investigative reports on corruption, including cases indicating the involvement of the Azerbaijani President's family. In 2015 Khadija was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison and it is widely accepted that the charges against her were fabricated to shut down her legitimate investigative work to expose corruption.

On 27 May 2016, Khadija will be marking her 40th birthday. Although we welcome the Court's decision to release her, we will still go ahead with our planned Solidarity Action in Grafton Street (Dublin City Centre), to mark her birthday and call on the Azerbaijani authorities to:

1. Drop the original charges against her

2. Quash the initial verdict

3. Lift the travel ban and the ban on professional activity

4. Allow Khadija to continue her legitimate human rights activities and journalistic work.

5. Call for the release of other imprisoned HRDs in Azerbaijan

Join Dublin Solidarity Protest for Khadija on her 40th Birthday

About Khadija Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova posterKhadija Ismayilova is a prominent journalist and human rights activist in Azerbaijan and is well known for her investigative reports on corruption in Azerbaijan, including the Presidential family's involvement. Prior to her arrest, Khadija reported on the situation of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and advocated for their release. She has been working for Radio Azadliq (a local service of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty) in Azerbaijan.

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FLD Award Finalists
Human rights defenders from Azerbaijan, Burma/Myanmar, Colombia, Honduras, Palestine, and Tanzania are selected as finalists for the 2016 award

Given annually, the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk honours the work of human rights defenders who courageously make an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights of their communities, often at great personal risk.

Dawit Isaak
27 May 2016

Last week the government and people of Eritrea celebrated 25 years since independence. No one can deny the courage, resilience and sacrifice of those Eritreans who fought for the independence of their country, yet sadly this very fact prompts the question as to what exactly there is to celebrate 25 years on.

Bahrain Protest Context
Zainab Al Khawaja
24 May 2016

Abdulhadi is two years old and is currently being held with his mother, Zainab Al-Khawaja, in Bahrain's Isa Town Women's Detention Centre. Zainab is one of the best known human rights defenders in Bahrain. She faces three years and one month in prison on several charges, including "destroying public property", for exercising her right to free expression by tearing up pictures of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

22 February 2016

Dispatches 2015 highlights the challenges facing Front Line Defenders in providing fast and effective support to human rights defenders around the world, as the space in which HRDs can work safely continues to shrink.


31 March 2015

In April 2015 Front Line Defenders and Verso Books published La Lucha: The Story of Lucha Castro and Human Rights in Mexico - the first book in a series of nonfiction graphic novels. La Lucha features the real life stories of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in northern Mexico who confront lethal challenges in order to promote human rights, justice and accountability.

14 January 2016

As the 2016 Annual Report documents, at least 156 human rights defenders were killed or died in detention in 2015. More than half of those killings, 87, took place in Latin America, with Colombia alone accounting for 54 killings. Outside the Americas one of the starkest figures was the total of 31 targeted killings of HRDs in the Philippines.