Azerbaijanis are demanding that BP stop supporting repression in their country on the 20th anniversary of the Contract of the Century.
A letter has been sent to BP CEO Bob Dudley to coincide with today’s 20 year anniversary. On 20 September 1994 BP signed a contract with then president Heydar Aliyev to extract Azerbaijani oil. This initiated the oil company’s two-decade relationship with Azerbaijan, providing money and power to Aliyev, which the letter argues, has hindered democracy in the country.
Mirvari Gahramanli, The Oil Workers Right Protection Organisation Union says: “BP is where the president got his power from. What is he without the money? Where is his wealth, where are his police, without BP’s money? The Aliyevs have grown rich from BP and now as a result they have much more power.”
The letter is asking BP to call on the Aliyev government to release all 98 political prisoners currently being detained, and to especially raise the cases of the most recent arrests; Leyla and Arif Yunus, Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov – who has managed to sign the letter from prison. It also asks that BP remove its sponsorship from the 2015 Baku European Olympic games.
Protesters gathered outside the London headquarters of BP on Wednesday, ahead of today’s anniversary; Azerbaijanis are unable to protest at BP’s offices in Baku as the current level of repression means that taking part in a demonstration could lead to a jail sentence.
Emma Hughes, Platform London says: “We took action this week because Azerbaijani’s are unable to. I am free to stand outside BP – in Azerbaijan such an action would mean arrest. BP are propping up the Aliyev regime. If they are serious about supporting democracy in Azerbaijan they must talk about the country’s 98 political prisoners and end their sponsorship of the 2015 Baku Olympics.”