Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Someone Like Khadija

Jailed reporter Seymur Hezi realises he is in the same Azerbaijani prison as top female journalist Khadija Ismayil.
By Seymur Hezi
  • Seymur Hezi. (Photo:Fuad Hajiyev)
    Seymur Hezi. (Photo:Fuad Hajiyev)

Editor’s note: Seymur Hezi is an Azerbaijani journalist serving a sentence of three-month, subsequently doubled in length for an assault charge he denies. See this story for more on the case, and this article on investigative reporter Khadija Ismayil.

I feel fine in detention. I can’t complain about my health or my general wellbeing. Apart from missing friends and relatives, it isn’t too bad. I think of my friends and relatives a great deal, and I’m reading a lot. I don’t want to waste my time. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here but I don’t want to waste a single moment. My advice to all the young folk on the outside is never to waste time whatever the circumstances.

Sometimes I get to see the newspapers. In recent days I saw a letter written by Khadija Ismayil from detention. I was greatly affected by it. One reason for that was we weren’t so far apart. We were about 100 paces away from one another in Kurdekhani, maybe even less. I was 100 paces away from the person who wrote those words.

I had a strange feeling after reading her letter. This letter full of courage and determination was written by a woman, an Azerbaijani woman. You will know that in the course of our history we have had quite a few strong, determined women. But for a woman to be in prison and show so much fight and perseverance is a historic moment; it part of our history of courage, certainty and firmness,and especially that of women here.

Khadija Ismayil is one of the greatest examples of truthful and honest speaking in history. Truth is the only thing that matters to her, whatever the arguments it  might cause, and however it is tested. It is being tested now.

I don’t know whether it’s because of our patriarchal society or something else, but when people see strength, honour and bravery in a courageous woman, they always compare her to a man. “This woman is like a man,” they say. But now the image of Khadija is changing that. Now I, as a man, would say “This man is like an Azerbaijani woman” to reflect courage and bravery. Or more to the point, “a man like Khadija”.

Greetings to all my friends and acquaintances. I kiss and embrace you all. I wish for better days when I am free. We will see one another sooner or later. I love you.

Your friend, Seymur Hezi

January 13. , 2015

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