Jun 05 2012
Eurovision ‘Siren’ Song Contest
The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan was a siren song contest for all those human rights activists and protesters who have been abused or arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities.
Those authorities in Baku tried to use the televising of the contest across Europe to boost the country’s international image and portray itself as a modern European state.
However, critical journalists and human rights activists took advantage of this opportunity and created the Sing for Democracy online campaign. As a result knowledge of human rights violations in Azerbaijan are spreading across Europe and blanket news coverage. The Eurovision Song Contest was an opportunity for a protest song of human rights abuse. This Eurovision in Baku instead became a manifesto with the message ‘sing for democracy’.
I am proud to say that mu colleagues in the European Parliament are also singing from same song sheet in criticising the Azerbaijan authorities. The Parliament adopted a resolution criticising the political situation and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. On May 24, a few days ahead of the Eurovision final the European parliament adopted a critical Resolution.
This Resolution sent a strong message against political repression and that he glitz and pomp of Eurovision Song Contest should not be allowed to mask political repression. There is no doubt that Azerbaijan is a dangerous place for journalists and human rights activists, who are critical of the regime. Many people have been harassed or arrested and abused.
A few weeks before Eurovision a press conference was organised in the European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the position in Azerbaijan. Azeri journalists and human rights activists were invited. They highlighted the poor human rights record in their country.
They highlighted and criticised the non-transparent house demolitions, evictions and human rights violations in connection with the construction of the now famous Crystal Hall in the Bay of Baku – for the Eurovision Song Contest. But while the contest has brought Azerbaijan into the spotlight, it is important that attention does not wane after the glitz of the Song Contest has settled.
To achieve this European Parliament Resolution calls on the European Council to “consider the possibility of targeted sanctions against those responsible for the human rights violations, should these persist”. We will keep a close eye and continued pressure on Azerbaijan in the after the Eurovision and well into the future. We must sing the song of freedom!