Human rights defenders call on «Okean Elzy» to remind Rasul Jafarov

Human Rights Campaign "The Art of Democracy" appealed to the head of the Ukrainian rock band "Okean Elzy", Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the forthcoming concert of the Baku at the end of this week. The appeal reads: “Dear Svyatoslav Vakarchuk:

Okean Elzy should bear in mind the human rights abuses being inflicted on the people of Azerbaijan before they perform in Baku later this week. The most severe crackdown on activists in the Former Soviet Union region is happening in Azerbaijan, where youth groups, academics, political activists and NGOs have become the targets of government repression. To highlight this crackdown, Rasul Jafarov, a 30 year old human rights activist, has been working around the clock to ensure better future for the country and its people.

In 2011, he launched a Sing for Democracy campaign to use 2012 Eurovision song contest—which was hosted in Baku—to showcase the country’s poor human rights record.

Rasul has coordinated two other highly successful advocacy campaigns—one of them on creating joint efforts among artists and democracy activists. In December 2013, he was on Maidan, in solidarity with the Ukraine. Back then, Okean performed in front of the jubilant crowd, dedicating the concert to all those who were detained and injured in the protests. Since then, Rasul has been is a fiercest fan of Okean Elzy.

Today, he is behind bars on bogus charges of illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. He is recognized as prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. The Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE have condemned  Rasul Jafarov’s arrest.

On the eve of his arrest Rasul was listening to “На Небі”. We urge you to speak up against Rasul’s arrest. The best way to do so is to dedicate the song “На Небі” to him while performing this song at your concert in Azerbaijan.

Rasul believes that the Azerbaijani government should afford all artists, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens the right to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. We hope that you share this believe.”—1606D--

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