Thursday, 8 May 2008

Gay Azeri artist seeks asylum in the UK

*based on No Borders South Wales and International Campaign Against Honour Killings

Babakhan B, (Babi) is an openly gay, internationally renowned radical artist and poet from Azerbaijan. His art and poetry have been explicitly critical of the government and present/past presidents. These factors have led Babi to become a target of repression and persecution over many years.  These factors have led Babi to become a target of repression and persecution over many years. He has recently been described by the government and prominent public figures as being a traitor to Azerbaijan.
Because of his sexuality and the radical nature of his creative activities, he has endured government-led suppression together with physical and mental abuse from other sectors of society. All this has taken place in a Muslim country, where homosexuality remains an extremely taboo subject. This led one of Babi’s brothers to threaten to kill him because of the shame which he has brought on the family.
As a result of beatings and bullying over the years Babi has only eight teeth remaining and suffers from a number of mental health problems - such as anxiety and panic-attacks, suicidal tendencies, together with insomnia and a general feeling of depression.
Since arriving in Cardiff in December 2006, Babi has engaged fully with various parts of the local community and has made many friends in his new home. Babi's current art practice involves making dolls from discarded items (mainly clothes and plastic bags), which he collects from the streets of Cardiff. In so doing he provides both a public service and makes us think about our relationship with our environment and how we look after it. These dolls have been exhibited internationally, most recently in Thessaloniki Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007, one of four exhibitions of his own work, which he could not attend due to the restrictions placed upon him by the asylum process.
He is still producing poetry, is writing a book about his art/gay life experiences and is also working on a film addressing the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. This latter work, as well as many other aspects of his art, would of course be impossible in his country of origin.
For the first time in his life, Babi felt happy and safe in Cardiff. He felt able to openly express himself artistically, politically and with regard to his sexuality, without associated feelings of fear, shame and imminent repression.
Babi’s claim for asylum has recently been dismissed by the home office. If he is forced to return to Azerbaijan he faces an uncertain and unhappy future. He will undoubtedly face severe persecution, from the state, community and family.
Model letters and addresses available at No Borders Wales

1 comment:

artmika said...

Thanks to Onnik Krikorian, I found this Facebook group in support of Babi's case:


There is also petition set up online: