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Advocacy Groups Criticize Eurovision Sponsors for Ignoring Press Violations

Azerbaijan. Baku. President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of the Baku Crystal Hall, the venue of the Eurovision-2012 Song Contest
Several rights groups have joined in issuing a public letter accusing the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the sponsor of Eurovision, of closing its eyes to Azerbaijan's poor record on press freedom and failing to honor its commitments to uphold international media standards.

According to the authors, the letter was a response to a workshop they attended that was convened by the EBU in Geneva last week to address media freedom issues in Azerbaijan ahead of the contest.

The authors expressed dismay at what they characterized as "belligerent statements" and a "defiant" attitude on the part of the Azeri government's representative at the gathering.

They also noted that official media representatives from Azerbaijan far outnumbered representatives of independent media at the workshop, and expressed concern for the latter's well-being upon their return to their country.

The EBU comprises 85 national media organizations in 56 countries in and around Europe.

Signatories to the letter include the Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The full text of the letter is here.