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Amnesty Urges Azerbaijan To Respect Human Rights Ahead Of Eurovision Contest

A simulation of the Baku Crystal Hall, where the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be held.
Amnesty International has urged Azerbaijan to address what it called the “unsavory truth” of its record on human rights.

The human rights watchdog said in a press briefing that ahead of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku the country should release 16 prisoners held since April 2011 in the wake of government protests.

John Dalhuisen, director of Europe and Central Asia Program, said that “corruption and forced evictions, torture and ill-treatment” are widespread in the country.

On January 17, Human Rights Watch said the Eurovision contest in Azerbaijan in May is being overshadowed by what the group described as "the illegal evictions, expropriations, and demolitions for hundreds of local residents forced out from their homes."

Meanwhile, on February 20, a senior official at the presidential administration, Ali Hasanov, condemned what he called the "politicizing" of the Eurovision song contest.