Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Important message from Eurovision to Baku: Azerbaijan must guarantee freedom of expression and sufficient visa entry [incl. for Armenians]

“In line with standard requirements that have to be fulfilled to host the Eurovision Song Contest, the government of Azerbaijan has been requested by the EBU to provide guarantees about security during the event, as well as freedom of expression, according to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, to all participants, fans, accredited journalists and the individual citizens of the country that access official Eurovision Song Contest premises. The EBU also requested that all accredited individuals and ticket holders shall receive sufficient entrance visa for the required duration. Such guarantees are expected to be given in the weeks to come.” - reads statement published on official Eurovision website.

As Escdaily rightly pointed out, “such words are more than likely to refer to the question of Armenia’s participation, VISA entry requirements, and questions about press freedom in the would-be host country.”

This is extremely important, as Azeri authorities continue discriminating against anyone with Armenian surname, whether Armenian or foreigner, by barring their entrance to the country. Only yesterday, journalist of Armenian origin with Bloomberg was refused entry to Azerbaijan: Bloomberg Photojournalist Diana Markosian Deported from Baku to Istanbul
Photojournalist Diana Markosian on assignment for Bloomberg agency, arrived at Baku airport on Monday night, was detained and then deported to Istanbul on Tuesday evening. According to the Director of the Institute of Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) Emin Huseynov, Markosian said that all her documents are in order, but she has been detained because of her Armenian surname. [...]
This is unacceptable in general, and even more so for a country that aims at hosting Eurovision song contest. Not to mention extremely poor record of human rights and gay rights. [more detailed post re latter will follow]

Here is what I tweeted yesterday:
#Eurovision must seriously reconsider #Azerbaijan suitability for hosting the contest unless they guarantee entry & safety of Armenian fans
To host #Eurovision, #Azerbaijan should be scrutinised & pressured to improve #gay rights #humanrights & ensure free entry of #Armenia fans
Read also: Azerbaijan to host Eurovision 2012. Intrigue of the moment: Will Armenia go to Baku?


Ani said...

What needs to happen is for Eurovision to explicitly state its cultural policy regarding the rights of the performers, press, and the fans to participate, cover, and attend the event. I don’t know whether or not their policy is written down, but it really should be, and Eurovision should not waver from any policies it has already articulated.

A decision regarding Armenia’s participation in the event should not be made--nor should it have to be made--before a clear understanding is reached on whether or not Armenian fans (whether from the country itself or of Armenian ethnicity) will be able to attend. If there is not a policy in place for the rights of fans to attend from all participating Eurovision countries, then Azerbaijan has the right to stage the event, with or without Armenia’s participation, as long as the Armenian participants are allowed. If, however, Eurovision’s policy is that all fans must have the right to visit the host country, Azerbaijan must either make proper arrangements for allowing Armenian fans to attend or forfeit its rights as host. Azerbaijan would then need to decide which is more important for it as a country: its policy of exclusion toward Armenians, or the benefits of hosting Eurovision.

Eurovision having a clear and articulated cultural policy takes away the uncertainty and unpleasant possibilities of deceit or of wheedling compromises, as well as the danger of falling prey to “facts on the ground exception” arguments that could undercut Eurovision’s authority and human and civil rights advocacy. It is Eurovision’s event, so it has the right and the obligation to stage it according to its rules. If the rules are contrary to the wishes of its fans, then those fans have the right to lobby for future rule changes and to boycott the event, whether in Baku, Yerevan, Minsk, or wherever it takes place in the future.

artmika said...

Ani, your comment is like a petition/manifesto I could sign in to. Very good points, indeed.

artmika said...

‘Two alternatives’ for Armenia re Eurovision in Baku? I don’t think so. No ‘music wars’, please