40 NGOs address sponsors of European Olympics in Baku

As the Azerbaijani regime steps up its repression of human rights defenders and independent NGOs, Western companies are entering into sponsorship agreements with the Baku authorities for Baku2015, the first ever European Olympic Games.

Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business decided to break the convenient silence and ask the Western companies with the status of Official Partner (BP, Nar Mobile, Tissot, Procter & Gamble) and Supporter (McDonald’s, Tickethour) to reconsider their involvement in the Baku 2015 games and support for the Azerbaijani regime, as well as to query what steps they have undertaken so far to assess, prevent and minimize the negative human rights impacts that their involvement might cause.

“We call on you to verify and reassess, taking into account the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to what extent your financial support for the European Olympic Games in Baku will white-wash human rights violations in Azerbaijan, and reconsider your sponsorship. Despite the official statement of the Organizing Committee, which attempts to ignore the political situation in Azerbaijan and ongoing human rights repressions, we believe that the activists’ arrests, in particular that of Rasul Jafarov, are related to the organization of the games. The activist was planning to launch a new campaign “Sport for democracy” during the 2015 European Games, engaging sportsman and sport teams to promote democratic values and draw the public attention to the degrading human rights situation in the country”, the letters to the companies go.

The initiative was supported by 40 NGOs. Texts of the letters are enclosed.