ISTANBUL–Four Turkish human rights and anti-racism groups sent a letter to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev urging him ”to urgently put an end to the lynching campaign against Ekrem Eylisli” for his positive portrayal of Armenians.
Below is the text of the letter in full.
Mr. İlham Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Dear Mr. President,
We, the defenders of human rights in Turkey and the opponents of racism, nationalism, and hatred, are appalled by and deeply concerned with the aggressive campaign and the threats of violence against the writer Akrem Aylisli in your country. The only crime committed by your fellow citizen Ekrem Eylisli, whose security is your responsibility, is to have defended in his recent novel the solidarity of peoples.
As the Human Rights Watch has declared in its global press release, Eylisli has been targeted with an increasingly aggressive campaign of enmity and defamation further endorsed by official spokespersons and the media, only because he has written a novel in which he has chosen not to represent Armenians as an object of hatred. Since January 31st, the said transgressions have included protests in front of his house, insults and threats, and book-burning.
Notorious for her racist views, member of the Azerbaijani parliament Melahat İbrahimkızı has accused Eylisli of offending not only Azerbaijan but the entire Turkish nation, thus sending a message to Turkey and provoking the same campaign of hatred against Armenians in Turkey.
Eylisli’s family too has been subjected to retribution: His son Necep Naibov, employed by the Ministry of Customs, and his wife Galina Alexandrova, a library director, have been dismissed without just cause.
The lynching campaign has reached its peak with the pro-government Moderna Musavat Party leaders putting a reward of ten thousand Manat on Ekrem Eylisli’s ears.
And you, Mr. President, in your capacity as the higher most leader of the state of Azerbaijan, have endorsed and even encouraged threats against Eylisli’s life by signing the presidential decree on Eylisli’s divestiture of the title “Writer of the People” and on the termination of his pension.
We are defenders of human rights and opponents of racism, discrimination, and hate in a country where, throughout its history, writers have fallen prey to unsolved cases of murder, or left to rot in prison. Ours is a country where those who express diverse views remain under constant threat. We know well how the racist, nationalist, and discriminatory state politics have driven the masses to the streets and turned individuals into murderers, even of their own neighbors. We have lost many in such attacks, but we also bear witness to the fact that the people will not be silenced by oppression.
At the same time, we have seen firsthand how your state and the rulers of the Republic of Turkey have joined endeavors in inciting enmity among their peoples against Armenians. The hateful slogans against Armenians in the “Hocalı Protest” in Taksim Square, Istanbul, are still ringing in our ears; the banners bearing the words “You are all Armenians, you are all bastards” are still before our eyes. As a result of our opposition, those carrying these banners have been charged and indicted. For us, the defenders of rights and opponents of racial hatred in Turkey, opposing enmity against Armenians and diverse ethnic and religious identities is a foremost duty.
As proponents and defenders of peace, democracy, and justice, of solidarity of peoples and equal coexistence, we invite you, Mr. President, to use your office and enlist all your subordinates to urgently put an end to the lynching campaign against Ekrem Eylisli.
Leaders who have incited racial hatred, who have condoned such transgressions or turned a blind eye to them, have come to be known in history as a disgrace, whereas the memory of those who strive for peace will forever live to honor humanity.
Helsinki Citizens Association
Say Stop To Racism And Nationalism Initiative
Human Rights Association Turkey
Association For Facing History