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Azerbaijan condemns Loreen's activist meeting

Azerbaijan condemns Loreen's activist meeting

Published: 24 May 2012 15:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 May 2012 15:08 GMT+02:00

Hosts of the Eurovision song contest, Azerbaijan, has condemned the alleged "politicisation" of the glitzy song contest after Swedish entrant Loreen - hotly tipped as a possible winner - met with human rights activists on Wednesday.

"These are people who have been through a lot and they should get to tell their stories. There will be press present and they will get to tell the truth. It will be the other side of the front that is being shown. It is a strong front, it is as beautiful as anything, but what happens in the cracks?" Loreen said to news agency TT at the time of the meeting.

According to daily Expressen, the meeting carried on without any problems but an article written by the Azerbaijani news agency APA claiming that Swedish ambassador Mikael Eriksson had told Loreen to make "political statements" from the Eurovison stage.

This has caused the senior presidential administration official Ali Hasanov to tell local media that the EBU should prevent such meetings with "anti-Azerbaijani" groups.

"The European Broadcasting Union must intervene in this issue and stop these politicised actions," Hasanov told Trend news agency.

However, the Swedish foreign ministry denies that the ambassador has told Loreen to make any statements.

"There is no substance to the rumour that the ambassador has asked Loreen to make any political statements," said Theo Zetterman at the ministry to Expressen.

The Azerbaijani authorities want to use Eurovision to win international acclaim for the energy-rich, mainly Muslim state of 9.2 million people.

But the pop contest has also drawn unprecedented attention to allegations that Aliyev's government jails opponents, persecutes journalists, cracks down on protests and suppresses free speech.

A small protest with around 100 opposition supporters in Baku was broken up by police Monday on the eve of the first Eurovision semi-final.

The second semi-final takes place later on Thursday, with the grand final on Saturday.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:38 May 24, 2012 by Orxan
first of all thanks for Loreen doing so.She is so brave.She is only participant who told true things about our country.Sweden people cant imagine human rights how are terrible in Azerbaijan
20:56 May 24, 2012 by Greysuede
Who's actually Loreen? Unknown singer of 3 hardly unknown songs.

I don't think that she's so genuinely concerned about human rights in Azerbaijan except promoting herself....

By the way, why she wouldn't care about human rights in her Morocco?
21:40 May 24, 2012 by Douglas Garner
@greysuede... why SHOULDN'T she be interested in human rights wherever she goes? Shouldn't we ALL be?
21:47 May 24, 2012 by Uncle
Actually she is extremely interested by the human rights in Morocco. Since she is a Berber that is. And Berbers are not having sweet times in peace loving - innocent defending - not interested in oil - highly moral islamic countries.

On the other hand, there is also the issue of pooping on the yard of a country that welcomes you. Like a football players would start negotiating with Basques in Spain or IRA in NI, just before a game in these countries. It is sort of weird and uncomfortable.

She does not agree with the human rights there? Totally correct. But visit the country outside the frame of Eurovision! That is MHO.
07:32 May 25, 2012 by RobinHood
Good job Loreen.

Human Rights Watch reports Azerbaijan to be a corrupt banana republic run by Ilham Aliyeva, a presidential despot similar in repulsiveness to Sasha Baron Cohen's fictional president. His police torture and imprison with impunity. Corruption, at every level of society, exists to funnel vast amounts of wealth to the President, and his reptilian family. Journalists and their families are particularly targeted and silenced with police beatings, murder and trumped up court cases, heard by corrupt judges.

The song contest was supposed to be an opportunity for President Aliyev to showcase what a good chap he is. In fact thousands of international journalists, sympathetic to their persecuted and silenced Azerbaijani colleagues, and some brave performers, like Loreen, have taken the opportunity to show the world how bad things actually are in Azerbaijan.

The President is angry and confused, poor chap. This was not how it was supposed to be at all. Enjoy the show everybody.
10:53 May 25, 2012 by comentatir
"the energy-rich, mainly Muslim state of 9.2 million people"

Thank you TheLocal for creating stereotypical images in our heads about Azerbaijan!
16:51 May 25, 2012 by james_g
Well, good for Loreen! Uncle - I think you've got one aspect wrong; she's not 'pooping' (unfortunate choice of word to my mind) on the country - she's 'pooping' (in a very restrained way) on the government of that country which is not, as I see it, representative of the people of that country! You can't simply switch off your critical facilities because of fear of hurting the feelings (or more) of some corrupt despotic government! If Aliyeva didn't want this sort of 'problem' all he had to do was refuse to hold the Eurobore Contest in Azerbaijan :) Simple! Most governments deserve all the criticism they can get!
17:48 May 25, 2012 by CanisTrigger
Regardless, her song is awful and she didn't even sing live. If you can actually call these lyrics:

"Euphoria

Forever, 'till the end of time

From now on, only you and I

We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up

Euphoria

An everlasting piece of art

A beating love within my heart

We're going up-up-up-up-up-up-up"

I think a four-year-old could have come up with something better than this crap.

Politics should stay out of this competition. She can campaign all she wants, but this is the Eurovision and frankly I find it annoying when some people mix the two things together.

Having said that, her "song" is so bad and she's so awful on stage that I am sure she will be the winner. Looks like Sweden is one of the few countries who could afford to host the Eurovision anyway.

Sorry folks, just my two cents.
17:49 May 25, 2012 by graceolsson
The photos of Azerbaijan were showed on tv are full of imagination but we know that 3 weeks before the Eurovision, President Aliyev closed all the schools in Baku...They want to hide the reality of Azerbaijan during Eurovision ...

I don´t feel that it can be good. But I think that Loreen should be more interested in Morocco, a complicated country for HUman Rights.
19:58 May 25, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
I think it shows absoultely NO CLASS for someone to criticize anything about a country that is hosting you for an international event. If Loreen is so offended at Azerbaijan then why not just stay home in Morocco....umm, I mean Sweden?!
13:12 May 30, 2012 by Alecx
Well, ESC has been held in Azerbaijan not in Morocco.. that's why all eyes were on the catastrophic Human rights situation in this banana republic. So why should Loreen talk about Morocco anyway? This country is actually don't pretend to be European, not a member of the Council of Europe, the Eastern Partnership and also does not expresses the desire to eventually become an EU member state.

The Azerbaijani president, I. Aliyev, treated the musical win like a military triumph, describing it as "a victory for the people of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani state."! Isn't this pardon, retarded? Should i mention that 4 years in a row they buy all songs from Swedish composers? Well, reaching high positions with Swedish production, (while their own song from 2008 ESC hardly got to the top 10) and then call it "one of the greatest achievement of Azerbaijani culture" is just not sick, seriously.

The Eurovision contest is somehow shed light on the darkness.. this, i guess was the main purpose of this very, very "apolitical" contest... will it help? Not sure.
22:35 August 25, 2012 by zizisabbag
So, Loreen met with human rights activists and the Azerbaijani government got upset. I wonder if it's because they're afraid of the spotlight. Fear usually means they're hiding something. The good news is that the private sector in Azerbaijan is implementing real reforms, pro-capitalist investments. One example is the Bank of Azerbaijan, led by a Mr. Jahangir Hajiyev. Hajiyev and the bank are investing in vital energy, growth and emerging markets. Hajiyev is leading the way to reform. The government should follow.
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