Sign a petition for a "guilt-free Eurovision" -- keep the pressure up on Azerbaijan

Robert sez, "Azerbaijan is hosting the final of this Saturday's Eurovision song contest. Amidst the absurdity and kitsch, human rights groups are worried that Azerbaijan's autocratic government will use the occasion to airbrush its appalling treatment of journalists and activists. Index on Censorship is asking Boing Boing readers to make the President of Azerbaijan face the music during #Eurovision, by signing a petition demanding he end the persecution of writers and artists who speak truth to power."

My father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan -- to Russian/Polish/Belarusian parents -- and I've always felt a distant kinship to the place, enough so that I take this sort of thing more personally than I would if it were in another post-Soviet Asian dictatorship. I signed.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a guilty pleasure for millions across Europe. But this year the competition has a dark side – it’s being hosted by Azerbaijan, a country whose people face violence, prison and persecution for exercising their right to free speech. On 18 April, Idrak Abbasov, an investigative reporter who won the Guardian/Index Award, was beaten unconscious by private security guards while the police looked on.

Other journalists have been attacked, abducted and tortured. In November 2011, writer Rafiq Tagi was attacked outside his home and later died. No one has been brought to justice for his murder. In fact, in the last seven years, there have been no arrests or prosecutions related to violence against journalists.

But it’s not just journalists – musicians, gay rights campaigners and political activists are also under attack.

Raise your voice for free speech in Azerbaijan (Thanks, Robert!)


  1. If this guy is as bad as you say he is, why would he be intimidated by an internet petition? 

  2. If you want to create a stir in Azerbaijan, yank any and all Eurovision tapings from the country, the kind of bread and circus that, when it goes away, can make a government feel a bit of a squeeze.  So if the Eurovision CEOs (or whatever they are) are tacit accomplices in a dictatorship, any and all boycott letters should be addressed to them.

    Because as things stand, this petition is toothless, I have no idea what it can accomplish.

    1. Rumor has it that Spain told their contestant not to win so that they don’t have to host it next time.

      1. Oh, so that’s how Eurovision works, the winner gets to host the following year’s contest.  I did not know that, my bad.

        But still, special circumstances, “After careful consideration, Eurovision executives have announced that, due to government policies which they believe do NOT reflect the values we strive for in a European community of nations, Azerbaijan will NOT host this year’s contest, and the event will instead be held in the second place country”.  Or something along those lines.

        1. It’s basically a contagious curse that Stephen King would use as the basis for one of his novels.

  3. thanks cory, i signed  and spread, it’s a shameful business, we serbs have a fair share of denial in that issue

  4. I signed too. Vote for Jamal Ali and his band:

    Oh, wait. He’s had to flee the country to avoid being murdered and one of his bandmates was impressed into the army where he’ll likely “accidentally” die in a live-fire exercise.

  5. I’m not sure that the people who care about this kind of entertainment would actually give a flying F about politics…

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