Local Authorities Shut Down Human Rights Film Festival in Azerbaijan

The Art for Democracy campaign condemns recent actions by local authorities to shut down a human rights film festival in Lankaran.

This incident constitutes a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and highlights local authorities’ disrespect for human rights. Art for Democracy views this move as part of a broader effort by the authorities to restrict critical art of all forms.

On 6 April, representatives of the local executive power in Lankaran shut down a human rights film festival organized as part of the CAUCADOC South Caucasus’ film festival. Although the first day of the film festival passed without incident – and was attended by a local public official – on the second day, the organizers were told they needed permission to hold the event, and that films should be approved in advance by the local executive authority. Despite the lack of a legal basis for such claims, the festival was shut down.

“We are seeing more and more examples of actions taken by the authorities to restrict critical art of all forms in Azerbaijan. These violations should be address by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during its upcoming review of Azerbaijan on 3 May,” said Human Rights Club Chairman and Art for Democracy Coordinator Rasul Jafarov.

Art for Democracy condemns the termination of the film festival and notes that such practices are a violation of Azerbaijan’s obligations to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Such moves serve to further damage Azerbaijan’s international reputation. Art for Democracy calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to cease such practices and to take steps to improve the situation of artistic freedom of expression in the country.

Art for Democracy is an initiative of the Human Rights Club and its partner organizations, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and the Center for National and International Studies. Building upon the previous Sing for Democracy Campaign, Art for Democracy seeks to use all forms of artistic expression to promote human rights and democratic reform in Azerbaijan.

For any enquiries, please send a message to artfordemocracy@gmail.com. For more information, follow Art for Democracy on Facebook and Twitter