Azerbaijan: Amnesty issues warning to Rihanna and Shakira

Top-selling artists Rihanna and Shakira were told today in no uncertain terms to open their eyes to the plethora of human rights abuses inflicted on the people of Azerbaijan before they perform in the country’s capital later this month.

The strongly-worded advice is contained in a letter from Amnesty International and Sing for Democracy. The two singers are appearing in Baku during the current FIFA U-17 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's World Cup 2012.

In a joint letter, the two organisations draw attention to the current state of human rights and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.

It highlights the ban on anti-government protests in the centre of Baku, the unsolved killing of reporter Elmar Huseynov, who was murdered in 2005, and the multiple arrests and persecution of journalists, bloggers and political activists.

The letter says:

“Both singers should be aware of the situation in the country post-Eurovision.

“This includes the spurious criminal case against photo-journalist Mehman Huseynov on trumped up hooliganism charges.”

Huseynov had actively been involved in human rights campaign conducted ahead of the Eurovision 2012 Song Contest. If convicted Mehman faces five years in jail.

In a separate case, a singer arrested at a peaceful protest by young people on March 2012, had to leave the country because of ongoing harassment.

The letter concludes:

“Amnesty International believes that the Azerbaijani government should afford all artists, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens the right to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. We hope that you share our belief.”

  • Call on the Azerbaijan authorities to end the crackdown on free speech

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