European Parliament made its final call and awarded its highest human rights accolade- Sakharov Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynecological surgeon.
Congratulations Mr. Mukwege! I hope your cause and fight reaches out to many more and you save many more lives.
In the meantime, our very own, Leyla Yunus came third. This most likely means, she will remain in prison together with her husband and the government will do whatever it takes to prevent other activists, defenders, journalists from receiving any other awards. Because they want to save face. Because Yunus winning the award would have put further pressure on the ruing government in Azerbaijan. But she didn't win. So less pressure.
Where does all of this leave us?
The show must go on, and all of us who have taken part in promoting, advocating, writing, lobbying for Azerbaijan's political prisoners, continue doing so and should continue doing so. The Sakharov Prize may be over and Mr. Mukwege is the winner but our political prisoners remain in prison, and the struggle for their freedom must continue.
You see the problem with spotlights is that they fade, the bulbs blow up or someone needs more spotlight and attention than others so people move on carrying their spotlight with them. But Azerbaijan is just one of those rare countries that needs the spotlight all the time. As soon as its gone, someone else ends up beaten, jailed, harassed, intimidated or worse killed (and it is likely the perpetrators will never be found).
I would like to remind readers in Europe, respected and esteemed Parliament Members, the Council of Europe (even if it has proven useless) and everyone else in the Western hemisphere who keeps tabs on human rights issues in Azerbaijan and still hasn't gone to the "dark side", to continue putting pressure on Azerbaijani leaders. Just think about it for a second: when did we start coming up with excuses when someone is threatened because he/she has a voice? When did we start valuing certain commodities (like caviar) over freedom of speech and freedom to assenbly? When did we start differentiating about different types of citizens, refugees vs. political prisoners? Aren't refugees in a way political prisoners too? Trapped in between official fighting and hunger for power? Aren't we all humans at the end of the day?
Will these words make more sense and have bigger impact if addressed from the UN stage?! Well, we have no such opportunity so this blog post will have to do!
Oh I know the answer all right. But please tell me, since when democracies stopped being democracies and turned into profit seeking enterprises; where value for basic human right is no longer valued at its highest and instead its all about barrels. Is it all about barrel of oil vs. barrel of human right?!
I hope its not. Because if it is then we are kind of doomed.
Why don't we all stop and think for a moment. Just remember the basic rights, remember the basic freedoms. Justice ought to be served eventually for all, and not for one group of people over another. If it is justice Azerbaijani government seeks than it shall seek it equally for all.
Dear friends, supporters, followers, haters, don't forget about Azerbaijan and the crackdown its honest people are facing at the moment. Remember it might be just a tat bit too late when the sh** hits the fan and there is no one to talk to in the country. Just saying...