Severe human rights violations in Azerbaijan ahead of Eurovision
Human rights are a sensible subject in Azerbaijan amid preparations for Eurovision Song Contest 2012 which is scheduled to take place in May in Baku.
According to an on-line petition, a group of Azeri citizens ask for solidarity and support to fight with the human rights violations.
“In the recent years there has been a spike in the violation of citizens’ property rights in the capital Baku as the authorities have been illegally evicting thousands of people and demolishing their private houses without any court decision in the name of “beautification” plans of the city,” shows the petition which was signed by 251 people so far.
Over 280 families have been evicted from the place where the scene for Eurovision is being erected.
“It happened at night. I was sleeping with my children and all of a sudden we felt the building shake. They used a bulldozer to break down the wall of the apartment next door,” said Arzu Adigozelova, a resident of the region, quoted the Human Rights Watch.
The Azeri authorities are trying to work on development projects and some people have to be forcibly evicted from their homes without fair compensation.
“For over three years the Government of Azerbaijan has been forcibly evicting people and demolishing their homes to make way for their development projects. In the course of these years we have seen several hundred families lose their homes,” said Jane Buchanan of the Human Rights Watch.
She added that the affected people are not able to find any protection from state authorities.
The local human rights activists say that more than 23 people are imprisoned for their political views in Azerbaijan. Journalists are harassed, as well. A recent development shows that two journalists were beaten up by policemen while trying to videotape illegal house demolitions on April 18. Both journalists have been hospitalized, Amnesty International informs.
OSCE urges the Azeri authorities to take resolute steps to end any form of violence and intimidation on journalists.
The “shocking incident is yet more evidence of the climate of violence in which members of the Azerbaijani media community have to perform their professional duties. The authorities must identify and duly prosecute those responsible for this and other attacks on journalists,” Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative of Freedom of Media said.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there are at least six journalists behind the bars at the moment, Azerbaijan entering the top 10 global jailers of the press. The crackdowns take place days ahead of the largest European song contest. Journalists from over 40 participant countries will be present at event to report live from the ground.
The former Soviet republic is a great oil producer and exporter. After 1998 their exports have significantly increased.