This I Believe

Leyla - Baku city, Azerbaijan
Entered on August 5, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: hope, love, setbacks

What is like to be a journalist’s wife…

Everything started like a fairy tale; I fell in love at first sight when I was only seventeen. He was tall, skinny, and had dark charming eyes. I couldn’t imagine anything else except fairy stories that started with “Once upon a time” and ended with “They lived happily ever after…” I knew from his looks he had the same feelings for me, but he was hesitant to step forward and declare directly, “I love you.” Things didn’t change during the following couple of years. We loved each other without bringing the words to the tip of our tongues. I was maturing, and I understood that he had something else in his heart. I decided to listen. “Leyla, you know how I love you. But I have to tell you something; I have tuberculosis… I am not sure if it would be fair to marry you.” I smiled and said, “I don’t care, I love you too.” “I am poor and don’t have a car,” he continued. “I don’t care a bit,” I said. “I don’t have a place to live in and hardly make both ends meet. What do you say to that?” he went on. “This world is not that small. We’ll find a place to live in, don’t worry,” I said again. I knew he had something more serious to say. That is why I tried to show that I was still listening. “My job is dangerous. I am a journalist… here… in… Azerbaijan… And I write articles criticizing the government and its officials. It is risky. I don’t want to pull you into this. Something is going to happen to me some day and what will happen to you then? I worry a lot. It consumes me from inside.” I wasn’t ready to give up, so said I, “Something will happen to us, not to you. We’ll be together in good and hard times like they say in foreign movies,” I joked. He smiled for the first time during the whole conversation…

Something happened to us on July 24 2007, like he predicted. My husband Mushfig Huseynov, the department editor of “Bizim Yol” newspaper, was arrested by NSM (National Security Ministry) on special order from the ministry of Labor and Social Security. My husband had been writing chain articles criticizing corruption facts within the ministry. 40 days prior to his arrest the newspaper published an article showing that a plot was being prepared against Mushfig Huseynov by the aforementioned ministry. The whole country knows that this is a “contract arrest” (which happens regularly in Azerbaijan) and is an attack at freedom of speech in the country. We have 2 little kids. Our older is almost 2 and younger one is 5 months old. I don’t have a job and we all have health problems. But I try not to cry. Instead I try to make my voice heard by the whole international community, but I don’t know how. Deep down in my heart I believe that time will come when all the writers in Azerbaijan will live in peace without fear of being trapped for only saying out loud what they have in their minds. I believe that Mushfig and I will have a shack someday; our very own shack. I believe that my kids will grow up to say what they think out loud with no fear of being detained. I believe my husband will be freed and we’ll live happily ever after…

PS: His judge Gulnare Tagizade is someone whom Mushfig criticized in one of his previous articles. That is why she made quick judgments and sentenced him to 3 months for pre-trial investigation ignoring all the papers showing that he has tuberculosis and is the only one to support the family. His appeal was done in the same manner – quickly and with negative answer. No one is allowed to see him except his advocate. His health is deteriorating and my heart is bleeding. We are helpless. We scream but we are not heard. I can’t look into my children’s eyes; I break into tears. But I try not to cry. I promise I won’t! I will stand tall for the safety of this world.

PPS: Mushfig is not the only journalist to live this kind of fate in Azerbaijan. Seven journalists spent National Press Day in prison on 22nd of July. Two days later Mushfig joined the “company.”