Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 10:12 GMT

Azerbaijan: International freedom of expression coalition launches website ahead of Eurovision

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 21 May 2012
Cite as Article 19, Azerbaijan: International freedom of expression coalition launches website ahead of Eurovision, 21 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbcbc0a2.html [accessed 26 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Looking behind the glitz of Eurovision, the IPGA website examines the alarming freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan, where journalists and others face blackmail, intimidation, violence, and imprisonment for expressing critical views.

As the stage is set for the 57th Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place this week in Baku, the Azerbaijani authorities are working hard to promote a positive image abroad. But at home they are severely restricting the right to freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms.

"As Eurovision approaches, our new website shows that the freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan continues to worsen", said ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Agnès Callamard. "The broadcast media is completely dominated by the state, leaving no room for independent voices. The organiser of Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union, must end its policy of silence and hold the Azerbaijani authorities accountable for their freedom of expression violations."

"With seven journalists behind bars, Azerbaijan is among the top 10 global jailers of the press", said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "This crackdown comes in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest, which will gather journalists from more than 40 participating countries and fix the world's eyes on Azerbaijan. The significant resources official Baku has poured to polish the country's image abroad will be meaningless without implementing systematic reforms to improve press freedom conditions at home. The immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues would be a good start."

"In Azerbaijan, journalists become the targets of violence when they stand up in the face of pressure from the authorities", said Reporters Without Borders Director-General Olivier Basille. "These attacks have created a climate of intimidation that is all the more frightening because those responsible enjoy complete impunity. The murders of two journalists remain unsolved due to a lack of political will. The authorities must take action now to find their killers and bring them to justice". 

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