Baku 2012: Between Pop and Propaganda PDF Print E-mail

Before the Song Contest a debate on human rights and press freedom begins in Azerbaijan.


They sprayed bright green color of dried grass. They managed the homeless out of town and pulled up billion-dollar prestige. They put men in diapers, so that they did not during the hour-long opening ceremonies to the toilet. You could move a young girl about two billion television viewers to playback the mouth, because they are the real singer was not pretty enough. They made the biggest sporting event in the world a stunning propaganda show. Just four years ago was that - 2008 Olympics in Beijing.


Now, Europe is a similar media-political-cultural experiment in the house: In May, the iridescent lands Grand Prix spaceship in Azerbaijan, that forgotten country on the Caspian Sea. And for the government of authoritarian ruling head of state Ilham Aliyev the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 is the most important event in recent history.


For a few days the capital, Baku, the hub of European pop world will be. The German construction company Alpine Bau currently attracts up in just eight months a brand new arena in place of the flag square, funded with millions from the oil production. In the "Baku Crystal Hall" will find 23 000 spectators. Six days before the presidential couple visited the site with large vermilion. Mehriban Aliyeva, the president's wife ever painted anything offensively, was pleased. She is chair of the Organizing Committee. Around one billion euros will be cost the country the ESC.


There will be a balancing act: Gives the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and ESC-organizer of the autocrat Aliyev with colorful show in May, a welcome stage for the refurbishment of the image? Or it might even succeed the country through the show a little closer to Western political standards? The headlights of the media world now circling somewhere left of center on the world map, they are still looking. Western journalists are approaching the most mysterious country with a mixture of condescending indulgence, and helplessness. Thus writes the German Press Agency: "Many of the approximately nine million Azerbaijanis have maintained a certain rural innocence. Friend’s sumptuous meat dishes and excellent spirits fired will enjoy a trip into the country anyway. "What does that mean please? They're all a little weird, but it's neat to drink?


The problem is: The ESC gives himself apolitical, but this time it does not work. Aliyev and his clique are accused of serious human rights violations. The state controls the media, the opposition is suppressed. Only a handful of bloggers and journalists dared to oppose the regime, it is said Reporters without Borders. There prevails a "climate of fear". Azerbaijan leads the organization in its ranking of press freedom at number 152 - far behind Angola, Cambodia, Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2011, police beat the protesters, tried to demonstrate against the Aliyev regime.


"The host country of the ESC tries to bring to silence any critical voice," said Tim Schroeder of Amnesty International. Volker Beck, a human rights expert for the Greens in the Bundestag, called Azerbaijan "a dictatorship, be pursued relentlessly in the opposition and critical journalists, and suffer severe discrimination against homosexuals." Conclusion: "Baku is actually the wrong place for a carefree party."


Think something like that a lot of ESC fans. In the scene will violently wrestled to the pros and cons of a trip to Baku, says Klaus Woryna, president of OGAE Germany ESC fan. "It is an intense debate. Many do not want to drive in such a country, others say now even more so. "And Markus Loening, human rights commissioner of the Federal Government, says:" I can not imagine that you can sing songs, while a few miles away people are in jail for no reason." Although homosexuality is officially around since 2000, allows the social climate certainly looks different: zero tolerance. "It can not be excluded that the police sets a homosexual couple and only upon payment of a cash amount is re-released," the Foreign Office warns officially in Berlin.


What is the consequence? Absenteeism? To boycott thinks none of the 43 participants. Protest actions on stage? Not excluded. The governance of the EBU has assured that foreign media could report freely during the ESC in Baku. In general, the country sends signals of appeasement: How was the blogger Eynulla Fatullayev after four years in prison released. He was convicted in 2007 for "incitement to national hatred" and a half to eight years in prison.


The ESC is the only chance to make the country known, it said in the Azerbaijani Embassy in Berlin. And it goes for the country to more than the ESC: Baku bidding to host the Summer Olympic Games 2020th On 23 May, three days before the final ESC wants to tell the International Olympic Committee, if the city is officially inducted into the ranks of the candidate cities. Since you are happy times for a few days a little looser. "The real question is not: What happened during those two weeks," says ESC Fanpräsident Woryna. "The question is: What happens after that?"


The preparations have begun. Animal rights activists complain that currently shooting in Baku stray dogs and would be disposed of. Still four months. (in German language)