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Azerbaijan: Seven things you need to know ahead of the Baku European Games
How can journalists effectively cover the European Games given the full scope of social and political issues in Azerbaijan? An expert panel discusses.
29 Apr 15

Editorial cartoon on the Baku European Games From Meydan TV (Image: Meydan TV)

Editorial cartoon on the Baku European Games From Meydan TV (Image: Meydan TV)

Editorial cartoon on the Baku European Games From Meydan TV (Image: Meydan TV)

In six weeks, the inaugural European Olympic Committee (EOC)-backed European Games will start in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. Meanwhile, concerns about the human rights situation in the country are mounting. The latest chapter in the ongoing crackdown on government critics saw pro-democracy activist Rasul Jafarov and human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev sentenced to 6.5 and 7.5 years in prison, respectively.

Against this backdrop, Index on Censorship, Human Rights Watch and Article 19 on 28 April hosted Give Human Rights a Sporting Chance in Azerbaijan at the Frontline Club in London. The event addressed the question of how journalists can effectively cover the games given the full scope of social and political issues in Azerbaijan.

From left: Emin Milli, Rebecca Vincent and Georgi Gogia speaking at (Photo: Index on Censorship)

From left: Emin Milli, Rebecca Vincent and Giorgi Gogia speaking speaking on the crackdown on government critics in Azerbaijan ahead of this summer’s Baku European Games (Photo: Index on Censorship)

On the panel were Emin Milli, a former political prisoner in Azerbaijan, now director of Meydan TV; Rebecca Vincent, coordinator of the Sport for Rights campaign; and Giorgi Gogia, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher on Azerbaijan who was recently denied entry into the country. These were some of their key points:

1) Azerbaijan’s human rights community has been all but wiped out over the past year

2) In light of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the EOC is not free of responsibility…

3) …and neither are European states

4) The Azerbaijani government has invested in an international PR campaign — and it’s working

5) The games are not popular among ordinary Azerbaijanis

6) Sports journalists should report on more than just sports during the games

7) Despite Azerbaijan’s current climate, human rights activism remains important and worthwhile

This article was posted on 29 April 2015 at indexoncensorship.org

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