Khadija Ismayilova’s mother: “Today’s struggle is tomorrow’s victory.”

Sam Williams 08/06/2019

December 5th marks one year anniversary of Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest. The investigative journalist, known for exposing state corruption, was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in September on charges widely seen as politically motivated. For many, Ismayilova is a human rights icon jailed for speaking the truth. For her mother, she is a daughter who remains strong in the face of severe obstacles.

Elmira Ismayilova has not seen her daughter for 12 months but she firmly believes that Khadija’s battle is still worth fighting.

Elmira, have you seen your daughter since she was arrestted? How is she feeling?

I haven’t seen her yet. She is in quarantine. She called me and said she was “fine.”

Khadija is always optimistic. She says, “Everything is fine. Be strong.” What about you? Are you strong?

Yes, I am strong.

Do you think the reaction from international organizations and public community to Khadija’s arrest is sufficient?

Now I can see support from international organizations, the public, ordinary people and independent media outlets. It became more visible, and it fosters hope. Even those who shy away from supporting her openly tell me how amazed they are by Khadija’s struggle for freedom of speech and human rights. Human rights are universal values. I would like to thank the organizations and people who support this struggle for human rights.

International organizations support everyone regardless of their nationality, race and religion in this struggle. For the sake of truth!

During the past when Khadija was jailed, what did you feel?

Anger, love, struggle, excitement, patience, reserve, uncertainty, support, and victory!

There are people who link Khadija’s name to certain groups. For example, the local media mentioned Khadija’s name in association with the turmoil in Nardaran. How can you respond to those who make these allegations?

My attitude towards them is certainly negative. Those who say it know themselves that they are lying. These people are losing their moral values. All I can say to them is that Khadija’s struggle lights your way and warms your hearts. Do not hesitate to tell the truth. Your free spirit is worth more than the piece of bread you earn in this manner. Do not be afraid to see the truth and tell the truth. It is not too late to save your morality.

There are also people who hesitate to speak up about Khadija’s arrest even though they are well aware of its politicized nature. They say something to the effect, “Who did Khadija harm? She only harmed herself.” Do you encounter these opinions too? How do you reply to them?

Khadija always says that it is worth fighting for the sake of values and beliefs, and just being a decent human being. I think everyone who listens to their inner voice and consciousness follows this path.

Do you have a message for them?

Unite and fight for the truth. Today’s struggle is tomorrow’s victory.