Gunel Movlud, journalist, poet and translator from Azerbaijan, lived in exile in Germany and Georgia for three years before she came to Levanger as ICORN writer in residence in October 2016.
Gunel Movlud was born in 1981 in the Jabrail region of Azerbaijan. She was forced to flee her hometown in the Nagorny-Karabakh region in 1993 when war broke out with Armenia in a dispute over the ownership of the region. The conflict that has continued to this day. Movlud spent the next 5 years in a tent refugee camp in the Sabirabad region of Azerbaijan.
After losing her home and childhood because of the Karabakh conflict, she has worked actively to supports peace and human rights in Azerbaijan through her writings and journalism. This is not an easy task, however, in a country known to crack heavily down on freedom of speech and, according to Committee to Protect Journalists, had the biggest number of journalists imprisoned in Europe and Central Asia in 2015.
- In Azerbaijan, all mainstream media is controlled by the state, says Movlud, who has repeatedly experienced threats and persecution by the Azerbaijani Government because of her journalistic activities.
Democracy, minority rights and gender equality
The main topics of Gunel Movlud’s writings and articles are democracy, human rights, gender equality, rights of minorities, peacekeeping and human values. They include investigations into women’s issues, on the conflict with Armenia, the imprisonment of fellow journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, and refugees. Her articles on virginity tests and single motherhood in Azerbaijan are among those she has written for the BBC Azeri service. Her writings challenging Azerbaijan’s largely Muslim and patriarchal society, as well as her conciliatory approach toward Armenians in the context of the Nagorny-Karabakh war has brought her to the attention of the authorities as ‘an enemy of the people’.
A 2003 graduate in fine art from the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Theatre, Movlud started her career as a journalist in 2004, working for the cultural publication Kino from 2004-2006. She worked for the youth newspaper Alma from 2006-2010, and went on as arts critic for the simsar.az website from 2011-2013.
In 2012, she started contributing as a freelancer to Azadliq, the Azeri-language section of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and in 2013, she joined Meydan TV as editor and writer.
Meydan is an independent online publication, which was created by Azerbaijani journalists in exile. The service features investigations into human rights and corruption in Azerbaijan, and is now based in Germany after being forced to close its Baku offices in December 2013 after threats to its staff. Movlud still writes and blogs for Meydan.
Poet and translator
Also a highly regarded writer and poet, Movlud has published three books of poetry; Darkness and Us (2004), 5 XL (2011) and Response to the Late Afternoon (2013). Her poetry has been translated into English and published on-line. She has been interviewed on and spoken of her literary works including a TEDXBaku presentation in 2011.
As a translator, Movlud has published three books from Russian to Azeri: Viktor Pelevin’s Oman Ra, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Stendhal’s Red and Black.