#douzepoints for freedom

Douze points for freedom

On 26 May 2012, the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

Unfortunately, not in all countries can you sing freely about what you want to say and Azerbaijan is one of those countries. The human rights situation in the country has been deteriorating over many years. Journalists, bloggers, political activists and ordinary citizens in Azerbaijan face harassment, attacks and imprisonment for voicing opinions critical of the authorities. You risk being jailed if you exercise your fundamental rights and freedom of expression. European Liberals are the guardians of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Liberals and Democrats call upon Europeans to remember the climate of fear in Azerbaijan while the world wants to celebrate an event full of joy.

How can we joyfully and light-heartedly sing about love and freedom while a few kilometers further people sit in prison because they exercised their right to demonstrate and speak in public?  President Ilham Aliyev would provide the best public relations to his country if he releases all political prisoners before Europe comes to Baku. European Liberals are particularly concerned about the fate of members of our member party Musavat and their political allies.  This includes Arif Hajili, deputy chairman of Musavat Party and Tural Abbasli, chairman of the Musavat Youth Organization Together with the following they were imprisoned on the basis of exercising their right to freedom of expression and are considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International:

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, former MP candidate; Ahad Mammadli, deputy chairman of Musavat youth; Rufat Hajibeyli, Musavat youth; Elshan Hasanov, Musavat; Fuad Gehremanli, Deputy chairman of Popular Front Party; Mahammad Majidli, Deputy chairman of Popular Front Party; Sahib Karimov, Popular Front Party; Babek Hasanov, Popular Front Party; Arif Alishli, Popular Front Party; Ulvu Guliyev, Musavat; Zulfugar Eyvazov, APFP; Movsun Samadov, Chairman of Islam Party.

European Liberals demand the the immediate and unconditional release of those currently imprisoned on politically motivated charges.  Every possible measure must be taken to ensure cooperation by the Azerbaijani authorities with the Special Rapporteur on Political Prisoners of the Council of Europe. Sign this letter! The prisoners need your support. Together we can tell the government of Azerbaijan that you cannot host Europe’s most watched cultural event while you suppress your own population by denying them their fundamental rights.

Sir Graham Watson MEP
ELDR Party President
on behalf of the ELDR Bureau.

This letter will be brought to the attention of Parliaments in Europe and all ambassadors of Azerbaijan in Europe.

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