Sweden’s ESC-singer visits Azerbaijan behind the glittery front

Loreen Foto Annika Aaschberg

Loreen Foto Annika Aaschberg

On her initiative, Loreen and Civil Rights Defenders will meet some of the brave people fighting for human rights in Azerbaijan on Monday, May 21. A reality differing substantially from the image the authorities wants to show of the country.

”The Azerbaijani regime uses the Eurovision to display the country’s best sides. We are proud that Loreen has chosen to highlight the human rights situation in the country during the day assigned for meetings with Swedish media in Baku”, says Robert Hårdh, Civil Rights Defenders Executive Director.

See pictures from Loreen’s meetings with human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. Visit Civil Rights Defenders on facebook!

In Azerbaijan violations of the right to freedom of association, freedom of expression and the principle of non-discrimination regurlarly take place. Civil Rights Defenders, together with Human Rights House Foundation, has arranged for Loreen, who sings Sweden’s contribution Euphoria in the ESC, to meet some of the people who are working with strengthening respect for human rights.

One of them is Emin Huseynov. He is chair of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), an organisation monitoring and reporting on violence against journalists and violations of press freedom in the country. Investigative journalists deal with threats and violence on an almost daily basis. Two prominent journalists have been murdered during the past two years. The perpetrators have still not been brought to justice.

In 2011, the IRFS reported that more than 50 journalists, national as well as foreign, had been harassed. Among these are the Swedish journalists Charlie Laprevote and Charlotta Wijkström, who were in Azerbaijan to make a movie about human rights. They were arrested in April 2011 and forced to leave the country despite having entered the country legally.

“I think it is very positive that Loreen shows such a strong commitment to human rights. She is a role model for her fans and I hope that her commitment will inspire young people in Sweden and Europe to take an interest in the work of brave human rights defenders all around the world”, says Robert Hårdh.

For more information, please contact Robert Hårdh (in Baku) by calling: 0709-14 63 14


Brief background Azerbaijan

The South Caucasus consists of three countries: Azerbaijan (capital: Baku), Armenia (Yerevan) and Georgia (Tbilisi). Azerbaijan declared their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but so far no democratic elections have been held. The country’s president, Mr. Ilham Alijev, inherited the post from his father when the latter passed away in 2003.

The country has a vast oil- and gas supply in which, among others, the Norwegian company Statoil has interests in. Azerbaijan joined the UN in 1992 and is also a member of the Council of Europe, since January 2001.

In the preparations before Eurovision more than 20,000 people have been illegally evicted from their homes or had their houses demolished. Several human rights organisations joined forces in the campaign Sing for Democracy to put pressure on the regime. The organisations call on the regime to strengthen the protection of property rights, to release political prisoners and to investigate cases of torture in prisons. Loreen will meet Rasul Jafarov, Sing for Democracy’s leader, as well as Maria Dahle, Executive Director of Human Rights House Foundation, and Shahla Isamailova, Chair of Woman’s Association for Rational Development and also Head of Human Rights House Foundation Azerbaijan.

Categories: Statements.
Tags: Eurovision song contest.
Regions: Azerbaijan and Sweden.