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

Resource Centre press release - Eurovision Song Contest: Are some company sponsors ignoring concerns about human rights in Azerbaijan?, 23 May 2012

Most recent media reports:
Eurovision spotlight promotes, exposes Azerbaijan, Elman Mamedov, AFP, 27 May 2012
[video] Azerbaijan's Eurovision preparations continue amid protests, Steve Rosenberg, BBC News,  24 May 2012
[video] Baku activists bemoan Eurovision impact 
, Sohail Rahman, Al Jazeera, 24 May 2012
Eurovision: The View From a Courtroom
, Giorgi Gogia, Wall Street Journal, 23 May 2012
Rights clamour drowns Eurovision harmony
, Courtney Weaver, Financial Times, 22 May 2012
International freedom of expression coalition launches website ahead of Eurovision
, Intl. Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, 21 May 2012
The Azerbaijanis Who Aren't Feeling the Eurovision Glow
, Hugh Williamson, Human Rights Watch, in Guardian [UK], 17 May 2012

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.  In recent months concerns have been raised about the alleged eviction of people to make way for a concert hall for the event and reported attempts to "silence dissent" before the contest is held.  In a recent briefing on Azerbaijan, Human Rights Watch detailed how journalists and human rights defenders are being harassed and subjected to violence.

Independent journalists have been secretly filmed in their hotel rooms in Azerbaijan having sex in an attempt to blackmail them and stop them from criticising the government.

Human Rights Watch has made the point that being a partner in events in a country where human rights abuses are widespread can be seen as endorsing the government.  The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide, in Principle 18: “In order to gauge human rights risks, business enterprises should identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved either through their own activities or as a result of their business relationships.”

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the following companies, in light of their status as sponsors and partners of the Eurovision Song Contest or of country entrants, to respond to human rights concerns that have been raised in relation to Azerbaijan and its hosting of Eurovision.

Official Eurovision sponsors
Azercell / TeliaSonera [DOC]
Gilan Holding: Has not responded
Schwarzkopf / Henkel
Silk Way Airlines: Has not responded
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) [DOC]

Sponsors & partners of Eurovision entrants
Metro Sweden / Metro Intl. [DOC] (media partner for Swedish contest)
MTN Cyprus / MTN Group [DOC] (sponsor of Cypriot entrant)

We will indicate in our next Weekly Update on 23 May which companies respond and which ones do not.

Human rights concerns raised about Azerbaijan and Eurovision 2012:

Eurovision 2012: What the hosts don’t want you to know, Article 19, 16 May 2012

Azerbaijan 'targets activists' as it prepares to host Eurovision, Daniel Sandford, BBC, 8 May 2012

[video] Eurovision 2012: Rights groups up pressure on Baku, Daniel Sandford, BBC, 8 May 2012

Azerbaijan accused of silencing dissent before Eurovision, AFP, 4 May 2012

[video] Azerbaijan and Eurovision: Behind the Propaganda, Human Rights Watch, May 2012

Azeri Police Probe Alleged Attack on Journalist by Socar Guards, Zulfugar Agayev, Bloomberg, 19 Apr 2012

Azerbaijan: Concerns regarding Freedom of the Media and Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Watch, 12 Apr 2012

Eurovision puts spotlight on Azerbaijan human rights, BBC, 23 Mar 2012

[PDF] The spring that never blossomed: Freedoms suppressed in Azerbaijan, Amnesty Intl., Nov 2011

'Evicted in Baku to make way for Eurovision', Damien McGuinness, BBC, 11 Dec 2011

Réponses de l'entreprise

Azercell (part of TeliaSonera) Voir la réponse
Gilan Holding

Aucune réponse

Metro International Voir la réponse
Schwarzkopf (part of Henkel) Voir la réponse
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) Voir la réponse

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