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Liadh Ní Riada MEP raises human rights concerns ahead of inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan

10 June, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP


Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ní Riada called on the Parliament to condemn the ongoing human rights violations taking place in Azerbaijan as the country gears up to host the inaugural European Games in Baku. It was announced yesterday that Amnesty International had been banned from entering the country to monitor human rights compliance before and during the games.

Liadh Ní Riada said:

“what is happening in Azerbaijan is shameful and it is essential that is condemned.

With corporate support from the oil industry, and with impunity, the regime in Azerbaijan is continuing with its human rights violations.

“They imprison political activists and human rights activists, journalists and academics. It is clear that not only are they censoring freedom of speech, but also crushing any opposition.

“In the eyes of the regime, these games will give legitimacy for their actions and their anti-democratic sentiments. The silence from the European Olympic Committee is scandalous. We cannot accept this, and it is urgent that we address the deteriorating situation in Azerbaijan. These are the first European Games, and the failure to protect human rights and human dignity from the beginning does not bode well for the future of these games.

“International sport is in the midst of a crisis of ethics and it is not good that major international sporting events are both occasions of widespread human and workers’ rights abuses, and at the same time opportunities for governments to sanitise their international image.

“I wish to also condemn the recent decision by the Azerbaijani regime to ban Amnesty International from entering the country for the Baku games. It is important that games such as these take place with proper independent oversight, and I am deeply concerned that Amnesty will not now be in a position to observe the conduct of the Azerbaijani authorities.”

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