It has been a year since Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was taken into custody, marking a watershed in the government’s domestic crackdown on free speech. Individual freedoms have continued to erode since then in Azerbaijan, and the jailing of journalists and rights activists has developed into a cause celebre in the West. Yet inside Azerbaijan, the ongoing crackdown does not seem to be generating much public sympathy for government critics.
Critics of President Ilham Aliyev’s administration contend that the government’s hard-fisted treatment of dissenters and independent journalists has silenced public debate and intimidated citizens from expressing opinions about politics.
“Cursing the government is no way out,” said a 43-year-old Baku resident who gave his name only as Vasif. “Otherwise, everything will end in tears for you.”
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