Society 15:11 05/06/2015

Germany leadership not to attend European Games in Baku, and athletes call for Azerbaijani political prisoners’ release

Leadership of Germany and government members will not attend the opening ceremony of the European Games in Baku on June 12. The reason to cancel the visit is conditioned by the fact that there are over 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, including opposition activists, journalists and human rights defenders, writes Claudia von Salzen on the website of the German newspaper DerTagesspiegel.

According to the article, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not go to Baku and will stay in Berlin. The Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière who supervises sport has also turned down the trip. Joachim Gauck, the President of Germany, will also stay in Berlin on June 12.

DerTagesspiegel further writes that the ruling regime of Azerbaijan has recently intensified the crackdowns. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said that they are relentlessly prosecuted and repressed in Azerbaijan. “During President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Berlin in February, Merkel said that she disagreed with Ilham Aliyev regarding the realization of the human rights,” the author of the article notes.

She further writes that there are over 100 opposition activists, journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijani jail. Well-known activist Rasul Jafarov, who tried to draw attention to human rights situation his country ahead of the European Games, is among them.

The newspaper points that the Chancellor, the Minister of the Interior and the President normally attend events of such level. Last year Merkel did not go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi because of the Russian policy concerning Ukraine, however Maizière, the Interior Minister, was there.

According to Turan agency, another influential German outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that the German athletes called for the release of the political prisoners in Azerbaijan. By this, they endorsed the call of the Council of Europe Commissioner Nils Muižnieks, UN special rapporteur Michel Forst, and OSCE special representative Dunja Mijatović.

The author of the article, Christoph Becker, writes that Christian Schreiber from the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) told the newspaper that the respect for the fundamental human rights and the right for criticism is vital. “We join UN envoy’s call on all the countries to respect those rights,” he stressed.

According to the article, Michael Vesper from DOSB also endorsed UN rapporteur’s call. “Of course, we express our solidarity with those engaged in this problem in Azerbaijan. Turning to the official Baku, we claim that German Olympic Sports Confederation stands for human rights and press freedom,” he said.

In June, Azerbaijan will host the first ever European Games, and in 2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix. According to international rights groups, the Azerbaijani authorities have intensified the crackdowns against the dissidents so that nothing can overshadow the two huge sport events to be hosted. The European Games will cost several billion dollars. Demolition of a large number of houses started in 2014 in Baku in the framework of the preparatory works for the Games.

Related:

CNN: Human rights activists call Azerbaijan ‘Land of Repression’ on eve of European Games which cost 10bn to Azerbaijanis 

Heydar and Ilham Aliyevs’ portraits removed from underground crossings and bridges in Baku ahead of European Games 



Source Panorama.am
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