All posts filed under: Baku

An Open Letter To the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations Regarding the Trump DC Hotel Hanukah party co-hosted with the Embassy of Azerbaijan

To the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations: At a time when internment camps and mass deportations are being discussed in public and political life in our nation and the state is forcefully closing in on civil liberties and the executive threatens our free press and union leaders, the notion of co-hosting a Hanukah party with one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes at a hotel that bears Trump’s name is beyond inappropriate, it is a scandalous threat to the future of all American Jews in this nation. The Jewish community’s true leaders are not looking for a tribal advantage inside the incoming regime in this country but rather to protect at all times their friends, family, neighbors and colleagues from the brutality a state can unleash on its citizens. Many of us are in this country because we fled persecution at two key historical moments. The first is around the Second World War as Hitler and Stalin closed in on the Pale regions of Eastern Europe, threatening Jewish life there. Half of my …

International Women’s Day: Free Khadija Ismayilova!

Happy International Women’s Day! Time to remember an important one, Khadija Ismayilova, in jail, for being damn good at her job as an investigative reporter and raising mighty quantities of hell while investigating Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and family’s shady business dealings. Turns out they are looting their country! I had the privilege to work with Khadija, be challenged by Khadija, and occasionally even bullied and reminded of moral courage and moral cowardice by Khadija. She is pure quality and intellect and she is serving a 7.5 year sentence for incitement to suicide by a boyfriend who has since recanted and was at the center of an effort at sexual blackmail against Khadija that occurred four years ago to this day with the arrival of a mysterious envelope postmarked Moscow and delivering contents reflecting pure KGB tactics. She went public, just a few months before Eurovision, so they retaliated by releasing a video on a mirror site made to look like one of the opposition parties, Musavat, who would of course have no interest in …

Seven Years, Six Months for Khadija Ismayilova or The Shame of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

This is Khadija Ismayiova, a PEN Freedom to Write, International Women’s Media Fund Courage in Journalism award-winning Azerbaijani investigative journalist. Today she was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail in Azerbaijan for the crime of committing really, really good journalism by investigating and reporting accurately and truthfully on the shady business dealings of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family. Unless of course you believe she is guilty of her actual charge, inciting an ex-boyfriend who was compromised by Azerbaijani “Security Services” to suicide – a charge he has since recanted. Oh and p.s. he remains alive to have made the accusation. The Aliyevs’ interests touch every aspect of the economy, from oil to gold mines to telecoms to aviation to luxury hotels to presumably so much more. We know this because of Khadija’s efforts. Today, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the Aliyevs interest in yachts allegedly owned by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic or SOCAR. Wife Mehriban’s biggest problem seems to be that the yachts …

Voice of America (VOA) Azeri Language Service: “I Admire the Courage of Khadija.” [Interview]

Yesterday via e-mail I gave an interview to Voice of America (VOA) Azeri language service journalist Emil Quilyev. The full interview in Azerbaijani can be found on the Voice of America website. Below is the unedited original, without translation which also appears on the website of Radio Azadliq, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani language service. VOA: There have been some recent developments in Khadija Ismayil’s case. Nothing major. However, according to her lawyer Fariz Namazli, the accusation of disseminating state secrets have been lifted. What do you make of these trial proceedings? Amanda Rivkin: I do not know enough about Azerbaijani trial law to comment on the particulars. My guess is that the state has come under tremendous pressure from international organizations over this case and slight developments can be used by the government, primarily for external purposes, to show Khadija is being given something resembling “fair treatment” under the law. Of course I believe this case is entirely political and based on her investigations into the president’s family’s businesses in Azerbaijan and their various …

*InstArchive* on Instagram

I’m trying something new because I’m American and tradition is boring we are made to think/believe/made to think is make believe. Everyday on my Instagram (@amandarivkin) I am posting a new image from my archive that is paired with a bit of “on this day in world history”. It’s how I’m taking it to the streets, building the ol’ personal brand, sharing my love of history, and finding meaning in my own work. It’s only a few days old but already we’ve been to Davenport, Iowa; Baku, Azerbaijan; Reyhanli, Turkey and today Spotsylvania, Virginia. Czech it out! MAY 9: On May 9, 2012, Obama announced his support for gay marriage in a television interview with Robin Roberts. In this image from my archive, witness Connie Fuller, 39, takes a picture of Rock Island, Illinois couple (l-r) Curtis Harris, 50, and Daren Adkisson, 39, after they picked up their marriage license first thing in the morning at the Scott County Recorder’s Office the first day same sex weddings are legal across Iowa in Davenport, Iowa on …