(PRAGUE) A journalist for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service has won the prestigious Rafto Prize for her reporting on human rights and abuses of power in her native province of Nakhichevan. Previous winners of the Norwegian prize include human rights activist Elena Bonner and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Shirin Ebadi and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Calling Malahat Nasibova "the journalist who won't be silenced" and describing her as "a kind of ombudsperson whom the local population turn to, to be heard," the Norwegian Human Rights Organization Rafto announced the award in Bergen
, Norway this morning.
This is a well-deserved honor for Malahat, who works in almost impossible conditions in a lawless and isolated region of Azerbaijan. She's fearless.
Nasibova, who will travel to Bergen in November to receive the award, said in a statement today, "This prize is for human rights, for democracy and for free media -- values that we must fight for in Azerbaijan and values that all people deserve. This prize will encourage me to continue to work for these things in my country, and I hope it will encourage others." She noted that three journalists are in jail and two bloggers are currently on trial in Azerbaijan, and added, "Let this prize give them hope."
"This is a well-deserved honor for Malahat, who works in almost impossible conditions in a lawless and isolated region of Azerbaijan," said RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. Recalling her report on the arrest and forced confinement to a psychiatric hospital of a 70 year-old Azeri opposition activist in 2007, he said, "She's fearless."
Since 1987, the Rafto Foundation has awarded the prize to individuals who make a significant contribution to the promotion of human rights and democracy. The foundation is named for Thorolf Rafto, a professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen, Norway. About RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
For over 50 years, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Radio Azadliq has broadcast professional, independent and up-to-the minute information and news. In 2008, the government ended Radio Azadliq's local FM and AM broadcasts.