Do you agree that freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy? Do you think media workers should be allowed to carry out their work freely and without government persecution? Do you think it’s wrong when a journalist is imprisoned after speaking out about corruption?
So do we, and if you think like us, you can join the campaign to #FreeKhayrullo. It’s easy and only takes up a few minutes of your time. NHCs Marius Fossum and Valentina Kazachevskaya (photo) have joined the campaign from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
All you have to do is to take a picture of yourself holding a sign saying #FreeKhayrullo and post the picture in social media. You can take the picture from a famous place – or anywhwhere! Don’t forget to post to the campaign’s Facebook group. Add the hashtag #FreeKhayrullo and in brackets the location of your photograph.
Khayrullo Mirsaidov is known both inside and outside Tajikistan as a fearless and critical journalist. With over 20 years’ experience he has criticized the government, exposed corruption, reported on politically sensitive cases and untiringly sought to unveil the truth in all his endeavors. Being a critical journalist, Khayrullo has never been a stranger to harassment from the Tajik government.
However, things took an especially ugly turn last winter. Authorities arrested Khayrullo in December after he publicly accused a local government official of corruption. As is often the case in kleptocratic and corrupt regimes, the law was then bent against Khayrullo: He was falsely charged with embezzlement, incitement of religious, national or inter-ethnic discord, forgery and with providing false testimony. On July 11, a court in Tajikistan found him guilty on all charges bar the incitement charges and sentenced him to twelwe years in prison.
“Khayrullo’s appeal case is coming up in a month’s time. It is crucial that we keep his case in the international spotlight in the hope that Tajik authorities will overturn this bogus verdict”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.