Business & Human Rights Resource Centre press release: Some companies sponsoring Eurovision Song Contest refuse to respond to human rights concerns in Azerbaijan

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23 May 2012

[PDF] PRESS RELEASE (for immediate release) Eurovision Song Contest: Are some company sponsors ignoring concerns about human rights in Azerbaijan?

Author: Compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

As the Eurovision Song Contest gets underway...some companies sponsoring the event are refusing to respond to concerns raised about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted 7 companies that are official sponsors or partners of Eurovision 2012, or of national entrants. The Centre asked each to respond to concerns about human rights abuses in connection with the hosting of Eurovision in Azerbaijan...Three Azerbaijani companies sponsoring Eurovision 2012 have so far failed to respond to the human rights concerns:- Gilan Holding; - Silk Way Airlines; - State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR)...Four companies responded...- Azercell (Azerbaijan), part of TeliaSonera (Sweden)...- Schwarzkopf, part of Henkel (Germany)...- Metro Sweden, part of Metro Intl. (Sweden)...- MTN Cyprus (Cyprus), part of MTN Group (South Africa)...

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22 May 2012

Rights clamour drowns Eurovision harmony

Author: Courtney Weaver, Financial Times

...[T]he state is facing increased scrutiny of its human rights record, with a series of incidents threatening to cast a shadow over the event’s finale this weekend. Sharp criticism from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has put the president’s administration on the defensive. Local activists claim hundreds of Baku residents were removed from their homes illegally to make way for new construction projects, including the Eurovision concert hall...“When else can we make noise? Eurovision is it – at no other time would anyone pay attention to us,” says Nurija Halikova, who was kicked out of her home in downtown Baku and given compensation that she says was no more than two-thirds the market price.

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17 May 2012

The Azerbaijanis Who Aren't Feeling the Eurovision Glow

Author: Hugh Williamson, Human Rights Watch, in Guardian [UK]

This year, the EBU [European Broadcasting Union] has an extra challenge regarding Eurovision. It has to decide how it tackles the issue of Azerbaijan's awful human rights record – not because it necessarily wants to but because activists in Baku and elsewhere, plus media and some governments in Europe, have forced the issue into the spotlight. What has come to light? A terrible record on freedom of expression, with six journalists in prison on spurious charges...For a media alliance that lives off freedom of speech to ignore abuses of that freedom on the doorstep of the show's sparkling seafront venue undercuts the organisation's own credibility.

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1 May 2012

Human rights concerns related to May 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan

Author: compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Human rights groups and journalists have raised serious concerns about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan as it prepares to host the 26 May 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented widespread and systematic abuses of fundamental human rights in Azerbaijan over many years...Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited...[some] sponsors and partners of the Eurovision Song Contest...[and] country entrants, to respond to [these] human rights concerns...[Responses received from Azercell / TeliaSonera, Schwarzkopf / Henkel, Metro Sweden / Metro Intl, MTN Cyprus / MTN Group. State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) responded after the deadline. Gilan Holding & Silk Way Airlines did not respond]

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