It took a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, campaigns, statements, reports, talks and action campaigns to finally after four years of long and tough struggle to see one of Azerbaijan's most critical journalist, Eynulla Fatullayev, finally taste freedom after four years spent in jail on ambiguous charges, paying what many would call, the price for ones' openness and commitment in bringing out truth.
He was charged with defamation, libel, accused of terrorism, his newspaper was shut down, and he had to go through hell before being released. Surely, its all part of the greater struggle, and surely that struggle is ain't easy and there is a price to pay. But the news of his release today, probably caused many to celebrate in Azerbaijan. Indeed, this is a perfect cause for celebration.
Fatullayev's release came shortly after an online campaign was launched by Amnesty International ahead of its International Media Awards 2011. Of course, local frenzies of the government picked up on the action, and retaliated, or at least thought they did with silly tweets circulating around, trying to change the whole point of the campaign. According to this post on Global Voices some of the supporters and members from 'IRELI', an equivalent of Russia's pro- Putin 'Nashi' launched anti- Amnesty Twitter campaign trying to avert the attention with photoshopped images and slogans like "if you are that fair then start a campaign over occupied #Karabakh! #Azerbaijan' adding 'and it will be better if you stop blurring the image of #Azerbaijan' and etc.
What IRELI did, was a typical reaction- Azerbaijani authorities and its supporters hate it when something negative is said about the country and especially when it has to do with human rights, freedom of expression, arrested journalists, elections and what not. Of course no one wants to talk about it and keep is hush hush but every once in a while, we too get a piece of good news, just like we did today, hearing about Eynulla's release.
But this doesn't mean that the spot light on Azerbaijan should fade away, contrary, criticisms, reactions, statements must continue calling for release of other arrested bloggers, journalists, activists who too were charged with baseless accusations and put away in prisons.
Eynulla Fatullayev is FREE, lets hope he will not be the only one pardoned...