World Bulletin / News Desk
Amnesty International has said in a statement on Wednesday that the Azerbaijan government had banned it from visiting the capital Baku, where the group had organised to protest human rights violations ahead of the European Games. They were forced to cancel a visit after they were informed that they would be allowed to visit after the games.
Azerbaijan is seeing the games as a unique opportunity to build its international. According to official statistics, it has set aside $1.2 billion for infrastructure, and travel and accommodation expenses for some 6,000 sportspeople and their delegations from across Europe.
Underneath the glitz and glamour of the games, the stark reality shows repression and abuse of human rights.
The group intended to launch a briefing called "Azerbaijan: the Repression Games. The voices you won't hear at the first European Games" to highlight a crackdown on journalists, opposition members and activists ahead of the sport event.
"It is deeply ironic that the launch of a meeting outlining how critical voices in the country have been systematically silenced ahead of the European Games cannot be held," said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
"Rather than reitirate the spirit of the Olympic Games, the legacy of these games will only be to further encourage repressive authorities around the world to view major international sporting events as a ticket to international prestige and respectability."
Amnesty International has accused the Azerbaijan government of a "systematic dismantling of civil society" by harassing, jailing and torturing human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners.
According to an article in AFP, any critic of the government has been imprisoned ahead of the games, as well as prominent journalist Khadija Ismayilova in a bid to silence criticism, according to the rights group.
Another activist is Leyla Yunus who, along with her husband, was arrested in July after demanding a boycott of the games due to the government's human rights record. The 60-year-old is still under arrest.
Rasul Jafarov, founder of "Human Rights Club", is still under arrested and Amnesty has called for his release. Jafarov was arrested as he planned a campaign to show human rights abuses in the country and was then given a 6.5 year prison sentence.
Many of these and other activists have been charged with "bogus charges" in order for them to be arrested and imprisoned. There are at least 35 human rights defenders, activists, journalists and bloggers that have been detained over the past year, forcing dozens to flee the country or go into hiding.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also urged European leaders not to send high-level delegations to the opening ceremony of the Games unless the crackdown on dissent ends.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Haziran 2015, 09:22