BAKU TO SING FOR DEMOCRACY - DEUTSCHE WELLE
- While Baku is preparing to host the Eurovision Song Contest in late May, human-rights activists are hoping to point the spotlight at the state of human rights in the country, the German publication Deutsche Welle reported.
Germany's human rights commissioner, Markus Loning, is said to be outraged.
"The last really shocking case I experienced was a journalist I know personally, who was put under pressure," he was quoted as saying.
The journalist in question was Khadija Ismailova, received an anonymous letter containing explicit photos of her and her boyfriend that had apparently been shot with a hidden camera in her apartment. A week later, private videos were published on the Internet. The authorities refused to investigate the case. Löning calls this "unacceptable."
Human rights activists are reportedly pointing to cases like these ahead of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, one of Europe's major television events, which this year will be held in the Azerbaijan capital Baku on May 26. "This music festival should not just be about the culture and history of Azerbaijan, but also about human rights such as freedom of speech and assembly," Rasul Jafarov was quoted as telling a press conference for the journalists' human rights organization Reporters without Borders in Berlin on Tuesday. Together with other activists, Jafarov started a campaign called "Sing for Democracy" in 2011. Jafarov wants to draw Europe's attention to the situation in Azerbaijan using T-shirts and posters.
The case of journalist Ismailova is just the latest example, said Hugh Williamson, Director for Europe and Central Asia at rights organization Human Rights Watch. Some six journalists are said to be currently detained in Azerbaijan, and the number has increased in the course of the last year. Williamson describes how the Azerbaijan justice system intimidates journalists: "A journalist who works for Iranian media was invited to a police station to answer some questions. He was told to take off his jacket. He went to another room. When he returned, he discovered a small quantity of drugs in his jacket."
But it's not just the restrictions on press freedom that human rights defenders like Williamson criticize. Non-governmental organizations say dozens of people are held as political prisoners in Azerbaijan's prisons. Freedom of assembly has been severely restricted for many years, says Leyla Aliyeva, director of the Center for National and International Studies in Baku. "Any attempt at protest is suppressed by the government," she said.
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AZERBAIJAN CONTINUES ACQUIRING WEAPONRY, BUT HOPES FOR PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF KARABAKH CONFLICT - ALIYEV
- 1895 The ambassadors from England, France and Russia present a program of reforms (for the six Armenian provinces of Western Armenia), to the Ottoman Turkish government.
- 1920 At the meeting of the Entente States in San Remo (Italy) it was suggested to give a mandate over Armenia through the good offices of President Woodrow Wilson.
- 1932 The Ministries of Heavy and Light Industries, and of Forestry are created in Armenia.
- 1944 Creation of the Administration of Architectural Affairs in the Armenian SSR.
- 1958 Death of singer Haiganoosh Danielian. She was born in 1893.
- 1990 The Cypriot Parliament adopts a special motion condemning the Armenian Genocide.
- 2000 Death of painter Grigor Khanjyan. He was born in 1926 in Yerevan.