May 25, 2012

Human rights simply not on song in Azerbaijan

The grand final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the Azerbaijan capital Baku this weekend amidst international turbulence and condemnation. Scott Barnes reports.

The grand final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the Azerbaijan capital Baku this weekend amidst international turbulence and condemnation.

President Ilham Aliyev’s authoritarian government has come under the international spotlight, accused by human rights organisations of violently oppressing its citizens. Amnesty reported this month that the Aliyev regime unleashed a violent crackdown on freedom of expression in the lead-up to Eurovision, which hasn’t abated.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

2 thoughts on “Human rights simply not on song in Azerbaijan

  1. Blair Martin

    It wouldn’t be Eurovision without at least one political spat! Last year the Belarus singer, Anastasiya Vinnikova (of the lovely schlager-pounding “I Love Belarus”) was pointedly asked in a post-rehearsal press conference about the dictatorial rule of President Aleksandr Lukashenko and her glare at the reporter could be felt back in Minsk!

    This year Armenia, who are still spatting with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, refused to sing from the same song sheet and pulled out (and incurred the wrath of the European Broadcasting Union who run Eurovision).

    During yesterday’s post 2nd semi-final presser, the Swedish entrant, Loreen, was asked about her reported visit to protest groups in Baku and her stated support for a more open society. The MC of the press conference (who is Mr Law and Order personified, last year the Germans had two people to run the press conferences, this year, just one will do thank you and he is in firm command) swiftly tried to shut down the question and responses, much to the howls of protest from everyone else in the packed room.

    It was always going to be risky staging a contest like this in a country like Azerbaijan (the questions fired at the hapless winners “Ell & Nikki” last year from journalists about LGBTQI rights in Azerbaijan set the scene particularly for an event which is definitely “gay heaven”), though no less risky than Moscow in 2009 or Belgrade the year before. And the way things are looking at the time of writing, it might be headed back there in 2013, which will be interesting in light of the election of Tomislav Nikolic a hard-right nationalist politician as the new Serbian President, though he apparently wants to shed his more reactionary past & image and be a “good European”, lead his nation and govern for “all the people” (and we know how well that works when politicians say they will govern “for all”, eh, CanDo Newman?).

    Eurovision – the event that is “…football for the people that don’t like football…” is just as political as everything else that involves countries competing against one another.

  2. AR

    A small point – only male-on-male sodomy per se is forbidden in Iran. The old Ayatollah, in his risible Green Book, gave it the OK if the anus was a, female, wife.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details