Please Release Me | Press release me, let me go | 2 Mar 2012 | Amnesty International UK

Please Release Me

Never in my life, did I ever think that I would utter the words: “Engelbert Humperdinck? Now that’s an inspired choice.”

But so it was this morning, when news filtered through that the UK has selected the 60s crooner as our choice to represent the nation at this year’s Eurovision song contest.

For those of you not musically minded, Mr Humperdinck is the voice behind the song that helped inspire the name of this very blog.

Where this all becomes relevant is that this year’s Eurovision song contest is in Azerbaijan, a country whose authorities have taken to locking up anyone who speaks out about the ruling regime. We were quick off the mark with a press release.

Freedom of speech, association and assembly are routinely restricted in Azerbaijan. Journalists have been beaten, ill-treated and abducted. Peaceful anti-government protests have effectively been criminalised. And new methods of exercising the right to freedom of expression, such as the internet and social media, are also under siege.

Last year Tural Abbasli, the 29-year-old leader of the youth wing of the opposition Musavat Party was arrested for taking part in a protest. He was sentenced to two and a half years for ‘participating in actions that disturbed the public order’.

Tural is one of 17 people that were jailed in connection to anti-government protests in Azerbaijan last spring. Two have since been released but Amnesty International consider the remaining 15 to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate release.

My challenge is to get Engelbert to adapt his song. Fancy a burst of “Please Release Them…”

Now where did I put my Little Black Book on 60s crooners?

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