Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Thursday 1st March 2012
On the day the UK's entry to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is announced, a leading Liberal MEP has launched his campaign to highlight the abuses of human rights by the host nation, Azerbaijan and is calling on national entries to do the same.
This years Eurovision song contest will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, and whilst entries from across Europe will be able to sing freely, viewers in the host country are not so privileged. Cases of intimidation, harassment and the arrest of opponents of the government are rife, with key opposition members imprisoned and Human Rights tracker Freedom House heavily criticising the lack of press and internet freedoms.
In the lead up to the contest, South West MEP and leader of the European Liberal Democrats Sir Graham Watson is seeking signatures for a petition calling on the immediate release of political prisoners and criticising the abhorrent human rights abuses and imprisonment of political opponents in the country. Sir Graham is also calling on all Twitter followers to use the #douzepointsforfreedom hashtag after they have signed it.
Sir Graham commented,
'Will anybody be singing Engelbert Humperdinck's Please release me? I think not. How can we celebrate the annual event where Europe comes together in the spirit of unity and freedom through music when just down the road people who have done nothing more than verbally criticise the government are locked up in appalling conditions with no right to a fair trial.'
'I call on everyone to sign our petition and for performers at this year's Eurovision to call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and to put pressure on the regime to end its campaign of harassment and terror on people who wish to do nothing more than exercise their free speech, a right that we all take for granted in the UK.'
Note to Editors
The petition and video Douze Points for Freedom can be found at http://www.douzepointsforfreedom.eu/