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 2015
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

14 responses to “Azerbaijan: Seven things you need to know ahead of the Baku European Games”

  1. These guys are not NGO people, they were doing illegal work in NGO sector.

  2. Subhi Zade says:

    Is this news?! Try to do something, please, at least non-bias!

  3. Postman says:

    Azerbaijan is a young state and the existance of some problems is inevitable. However this article is another unacceptable attempt to mix up the politics and the sport.

  4. Ismayil Karimov says:

    European Games is not political issue

  5. Aygun Memmedli says:

    emin milli’s campaign is to blemish Azerbaijan before European Games. he thinks only of the grants that he will get

  6. Ismayil Haciyev says:

    These people are imprisoned without any political reason. There are obvious evidences.. I wonder if in any country someone detained for tax evasion or another charge, is his\her arrest considered politically motivated too? this is the smearing campaign against Azerbaijan ahead of European Games.

  7. Gurban says:

    After reading this article I understand one thing you are jealous of our country.
    If once I will protect human rights then I can break the laws of the country to avoid the payment of taxes, to extort money from people by threatening them with Europe?

  8. Ramil says:

    We need a serious articles, not just a compilation of fictional tweets. This is really redicilous to see your approach of creating a news based on tweets:-)

  9. Nigar Iskandarova says:

    Why are you politicizing the sports events? Azerbaijan is a strong country able to host large international events. Stop blaming Azerbaijan for all the deadly sins.

  10. Lala says:

    European Games is not a politic issue it is a sport competition. This black mail campaign against Azerbaijan is still going on. In any case European games will be held in Azerbaijan but it is clear that such campaign was done for impair the image of Azerbaijan in the world. The people mentioned in the article were arrested for their illegal activities.

  11. Nargiz Khalaf says:

    People what about the human rights of the refugees and IDP’s which fired out from Karabakh. Lost their home, life, past and future. It seems you worry some 100 people which named “hero”. Who will think about more than 1000000 peoples’ rights?!

  12. Aliyar says:

    Blackmail of Azerbaijan is obvious. The “experts” who invited to the meeting is unknown. one-sided ones in Azerbaijan/Emin Milli was member of new Azerbaijani Party. When westerns organization paid much more money he moved to opposition side. The discussion is bias, because there was no progovernmental expert in order to make balance democratically. This event also is part of blackmail campaign towards Azerbaijan. So your lie will not go on, it will stop soon.Shame on You!

  13. Efsane says:

    Stop blackmail campaign against Azerbaijan. There are a lot of positive changes and developings in Azerbaijan after gaining its independence. Most media workers journalists from differenet countries see these positive changes in their own eyes and coverit. The Crackdown and pressure of some foreign media and NGO-s related with media and human rights to Azerbaijan is unacceptable in the eve of Baku 2015 European Games. Meydan tv wants to introduce itself like “independent” and “hero” media, but unsuccessfull. Meydan Tv and other “oppositional” azerbaijanis living abroad is as important tool for some antiAzerbaijan sources to damage Azerbaijan’s reputation. Dont be tool of them. Azerbaijan will host Baku 2015 succesfully. Why dont Human rights NGOs devote their time about human rights violations of Azerbaijani refugees who want to return to Karabakh? They lost their homes, relatives, there are 2 Azerbaijani civilians Dilgam Asgarov and Ырфрифя Йгдшнум are in captive by Armenia. Armenia rejeсt to return them. Rebecca Vincent and Humant Rights Watch and human rights NGOs should answer for it.

  14. Azer Hasret says:

    When you`ll stop targeting Azerbaijan? Azerbaijan is quite free and enough strong country to develop democracy without you! And European Games are very widely supported by the population! Youn need to know this!